He was born Karl Heinz Oberweger in Vienna, the younger child of Berta and Joseph Oberweger. Ashkenazy Jews, the family lived on Flossgasse in the Jewish (second) district of Vienna. He remembered the build-up to the Anschluss of Austria by Germany in 1938, the anti-Semitic bullying on the way home from school and his mother and sister being made to scrub the streets by the Nazis. Fortunately his mother realised the approaching danger and applied for him, aged 13, to travel to England on one of the Kindertransports in January, 1939. His mother and sister followed shortly afterwards and went into service. His father stayed in Vienna, somehow avoiding deportation, and died there peacefully in 1942.