Werner Weissenberg

Werner Weissenberg: 7th November 1911 to 3rd December 1990

Werner Weissenberg - University of Breslau, 1930-1936

Werner Weissenberg – University of Breslau, 1930-1936

Scans of records and documents found in the ITS database during this research have been uploaded here.

Please follow these links to pages on Werner’s war years and his life in postwar Britain.

Lebenslauf: Werner’s life in pre-War Germany, 1911 to 1939

Werner Weissenberg was born to Else and Leopold in Pless on 7 November 1911.

Werner's birth certificate, Pless, 1911
Werner Weissenberg, German birth certificate

Werner’s birth certificate from Pless, showing Leopold’s signature, 1911 (translation follows).


Nr. 130

Pless 10 Nov 1911

At the registry office named below, merchant Leopold Weissenberg, resident of Pless, of the Jewish Religion, announced the birth of a son, Werner, to his wife Elsbeth Weissenberg geb. Bloch, also of Jewish religion, living with him in the same residence in Pless, on the 7th November 1911

Read, registered, and signed

Leopold Weissenberg

The Officer


(Translation by Helga Brown BA Dip. Ed. née Steinhardt)

At the time, Pless was part of the region of Oberschlesien (O/s), or Upper Silesia; since the end of World War II, this area has been part of Poland and is now called Górny Śląsk; the town in which my father was born is now Pszczyna.

Please just click on any picture to enlarge it.

Pszczyna, June 2015

At school in Tost: Katholische Schule

From six to nine years of age, from 1st April 1918 to 10 March 1921, Werner attended the local Catholic primary school in Tost (now Toszeg).

Tost Katholische schule, 1918-1921
Tost Katholische schule, 1918-1921

We found the certificate shown above in Katowice archives in May 2016; these would have been given out when the children left school: it is titled ‘Dismissal certificate’

At school in Beuthen/ Bytom

Hindenburg Gymnasium
Hindenburg Gymnasium: then …
... and now - Hindenburg Gymnasium, May 2016
… and now – Hindenburg Gymnasium, May 2016

From 1921, Werner attended the Staatliches Hindenburg Gymnasium (in English, the Royal Hindenburg School) – a humanities grammar school – which had opened in 1906.

Hindenburg Gymnasium, May 2016
Hindenburg Gymnasium, May 2016 – the doors my father entered to go to school

The school director at the time was Dr May.

Beuthen Gymnasium director: Dr May, 1929
Beuthen Gymnasium director: Dr May, 1929

The school had a rigorous academic focus and specialised in Latin and Greek (hence the ‘humanities’ appellation). Physical education was compulsory and taken seriously, as was religious education. The few Jewish students took religious education separate from the majority Catholic pupils; two hours a day were given over to religious teaching (as can be seen in school reports and witness testimony from the era). The children studied two modern languages – English and French – as well as Greek, sciences, mathematics, music, and of course German studies.

Beuthen Gymnasium records
Beuthen Gymnasium records
Beuthen Hindenburg Gymnasium: school report, form
Beuthen Hindenburg Gymnasium: school report, form

In Katowice archives, on a visit in May 2016, we found these documents, giving Werner’s results for every year in which he attended school here.

Beuthen Hindenburg Gymnasium: school report, page 1
Beuthen Hindenburg Gymnasium: school report, page 1
Beuthen Hindenburg Gymnasium: school report, page 2
Beuthen Hindenburg Gymnasium: school report, page 2

As the school was in Beuthen (O/schl.), so Werner became a boarder from the age of nine. It was to be an unpleasant experience, I believe; he insisted that neither of his own children would be sent away to school.

Beuthen grammar school, February 1927
Staatliches Hindenburg Gymnasium, Beuthen, February 1927. Werner is third from the left at the back; you can only see the top half of his face

Werner sat for his final school examinations at Hindenburg Gymnasium and was awarded the above certificate, dated 13 March 1930.

The University of Breslau

University of Breslau, May 2016
University of Breslau, May 2016

At the beginning of the summer semester of 1930, Werner began to read mathematics and natural sciences at the University of Breslau.

breslau university book
Application book: University of Breslau, 1930
University of Breslau, 1930
Studienbuch, University of Breslau, 1930s
1930_04_30 Breslau
Medical examination form for new students – 30th April 1930

I am still looking for information on Dr von Falkenhausen, whose stamp is on the form above.

Growing up, I only heard about how difficult it was for Werner to finish his studies at university – as a Jew in Germany in the 1930s. However, the family photograph collection also tells another side to the story, before this time became coloured by subsequent events.

Party scene 1930/31
Party – 1930/31

Dance students - 7th February 1931
Dance students – 7th February 1931

On moving to Breslau, Werner had to register with the police, as can be seen from the form below.

This registration form includes name, address, place of birth, religion, and so forth; it serves as proof of residency. The second image shows the reverse side of the form.

16th April 1932 Breslau Police registration form, page one

16th April 1932 Breslau Police registration form, reverse

In 1933, Werner’s studies were interrupted (translation problem to be resolved here) partly due to the confusion/uncertainty which in those times had regard to the future approval and life – the safety of Jewish students at German universities was, on the other hand, according to the greatly reduced income of his father, after the beginning of the National Socialist government – was chosen with reference to the Geneva Convention for Upper Silesia. After an interruption of one year – he was able to continue his studies and finish.

While at university, Werner lived at least some of the time at the house of Herr Wiener at Höfchenstraße 78, Breslau.

Breslau envelope address
Breslau envelope address

The house is no longer there, as the whole area was bombed during the war, but the pictures here show what is left in the approximate location of this house.

Höfchenstraße 1945: source fotopolska.eu
Höfchenstraße 1945: source fotopolska.eu

Another image, below, shows a ticket stub from a passbook for insurance of some kind while Werner was at Breslau:


Keep separate from the passbook!

Submit for each lift-off!

Municipal Savings Bank of Breslau

A day out at Zobten / Ślęża

Zobten lies about 45km from Breslau. Presumably a couple of the students had (or borrowed) cars, because we couldn’t see any sign of a train line. Even today this is a beautiful and very peaceful place – a long way from the noise (and  hostility) of Breslau in the 1930s.

A day out at Zobten with fellow students - 26 July 1931
A day out at Zobten with fellow students – 26 July 1931

1935: University of Breslau

Application for Examination – English translation below

Application for Examination, University of Breslau, 15th February 1935, page one
Application for Examination, University of Breslau, 15th February 1935, page two

Page 1

Application for Examination

To the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Breslau for a subsidy towards study.

I have completed the 8th term of study in the subject which I wish to be examined in this term with Professor Dr Fues.

A recitation, practical application, seminar and coursework.

The theme of my submission consists of Philosophy and Statistics. I have completed 4 hours and would like to be examined by this lecturer.

Breslau 15.2.35

Fore- and surname: Werner Weissenberg

Subject: Phil

Residence: Höfchenstrasse 78

Landlord: Wiener


Breslau 15.2.1935

Professor Dr Fues will examine the applicant

Signed by the Dean:


Turn over!

Page 2

Report on the achievement during examination.

Underline the relevant mark.

Very good

Test was oral, not written. A comment is urgently required. In case the applicant is known to the examiner outside the examination during attendance at a seminar or practical work, a judgement on the achievement and efficiency would be much appreciated.

Comment: The applicant is known to me from practice sessions and presentations. He has shown

independent opinions of excellent maturity.

Breslau 16 February 1935

Karl Seiler

Signature of the (Assistant) Examiner

(Translation by Helga Brown BA Dip. Ed. née Steinhardt)

University of Breslau – testimony

[English translation below]



29th May 1936


Report on the scientific examination for High Schools teaching

Mr Werner Weissenberg, born on 7th November 1911 in Pless, O.S., of the Jewish faith, passed the Matriculation examination at the High School in Beuthen, O.S. on the 12th March 1930, and studied Mathematics and Physical Science from Easter 1930 to Christmas 1933 and from Easter 1934 to Christmas 1935 in Breslau. He was on leave during the summer terms 1933 and 1935. During the winter term 1933 he was a part-time student at the University in Breslau.

For his Science examination to qualify as a teacher according to the ministerial orders qualifying for Higher School employment from the 7th December 1933, he had to write on:

  1. The theory of volumetric problems by Lagrange unconditionally and with two variable end points.
  2. Contributions to the meaning of Schaefer Bergmann’s research

He was tested orally on the 27th, 28th and 29th May 1936.

Mr Werner Weissenberg passed the exam for teachers at the High Schools. He was awarded the grade ‘Good’ for Mathematics as a major subject and ‘Satisfactory’ in Physics as a major subject, and ‘Good’ in Chemistry as a subsidiary subject.

As a result of the written and oral examination he was awarded a good pass.

Breslau, 29th May 1936, Science Examination Office Breslau

Also for Baur, Radon, Fues, Manfred Dittrich

(Translation by Helga Brown BA Dip. Ed. née Steinhardt)

Certificate: 29 May 1939

Old photocopies are black, as you can see from the image below, which is a copy of a Breslau university certificate, dated May 1936. Note, the Breslau stamp contains two images of swastikas.

1936_05_29_black copy

Congratulations from home

Meanwhile, at home in Tost, on hearing of their son’s hard-won success at the University of Breslau, at a time when many Jews were no longer allowed to read for university degrees, Else and Leopold wrote to Werner on 30th May 1936; at the end is a letter from Werner’s grandmother, Hermine.

[The original letters in German can be viewed here.]

                                                      Tost, 30th May 1936

Dear Werner,

Hurrah! I just found your lovely letter in the box. Thank God you have survived it and done so well. I am happy and congratulate you from the bottom of my heart. I prayed in the Temple on both days, in spite of the fact that I didn’t know you were having such a strenuous time. It really worked out so well for you. There was only one sentence in your last card that made me think this was what will be, will be. It will be weakened by the reference to the month of June. After the event I am still agitated, so much so that my hands are trembling. If dear God has helped up till now then he will carry on helping you. Now you can sleep during the Whitsun holidays and carry on relaxing when you get home. I am anxious to know details, of course. As for the goods you can’t get into your suitcases – get a large box and send it by train. That will be the cheapest method of transport.

Now hearty congratulations,

From your Mother

Heartiest congratulations from me also, and I am glad that at last you have got it over with. In spite of my retirement I was nevertheless worried. You can tell us all the details when you get home. Your winter sweater, you can place into the box, that way you will have less to carry. A healthy au revoir.

Lots of love, Father

Dear Werner,

Many congratulations from me too. With God’s help you have got through. I hope you will find some employment soon with a good salary. Do you not want to say goodbye to Uncle Martin? He would be very pleased with a visit from you. He will have written to you. Margot is celebrating her 21st birthday with Heinz. Looking forward to seeing you.

Lots of love, Grandma

You will have written, hopefully, to the aunts and Uncle Kurt. You will have to pay a farewell visit by Saturday 6th, won’t you? I tried to recover my strength as a 45-year old, but in vain, unfortunately. Did you like the lady? Grandma would like you to visit Uncle Martin Bloch, on Gartenstrasse, because he is very fond of you and very kind to us.

Greetings, from Mother

(Translation by Helga Brown BA Dip. Ed. née Steinhardt)

Certificate: 29 May 1936

29 May 1936, Certificate, University of Breslau

Envelope: 21 October 1936

While it might seem odd to include an image of an envelope, this one gives us a number of pieces of information, including two addresses – one in Tost, and one in Frankfurt am Main.

21 October 1936, envelope front
21 October 1936, envelope front
21 October 1936, envelope reverse
21 October 1936, envelope reverse

Document: 13 November 1936

The following is a Polish version of Werner’s birth certificate, stamped from Pszczyna (note the Polish spelling of Pless at this point). He presumably needed copies of such documents for his teaching post in Frankfurt am Main.

13 November 1936
13 November 1936

Teaching at Philanthropin school, Frankfurt am Main

Thus, by the end of May 1936, Werner had passed the state examination for science teaching in High Schools.

At that time, with the immanent end of the Geneva Convention for Upper Silesia, he was not prepared for admission to public service [trans? query]. For a small, nominal salary, Werner finally gained a teaching position at a Jewish High School (Philanthropin) in Frankfurt au Main. He was both a busy teacher at the school, and also had to take in some private pupils in order to earn enough money to get by.

In this extract from a letter, below, uncle Kurt is teasing Werner for complaining about having to give private lessons.

Letter from Kurt to Werner: Myslowice, 7th October 1936

I am sorry the private lessons are so awful, but because you are so short of money, they will help. It must be difficult to learn English and Hebrew and then to give lessons in order to earn some money; it is probably too late. It is more financially rewarding to find a wealthy daughter after diligent searching. It will be terrible otherwise.

Letter: 4 September 1938

English translation to follow

4th September 1938
4th September 1938

Accommodation in Frankfurt am Main

Werner was living a few miles outside Frankfurt at the time, presumably commuting into the city for work. We have the following information, given in a small printed book, titled K.-C.-AdreBbuch 1937 Mitgliederverzeichnis des Jüdischen K. – C.

K. C. Address Book, 1937

His listing reads: Weissenberg, Werner – Studienreferendar (Th) Fichardstrasse/Fichardstraße 9 bei Sturmfeld.

Fichard Strasse 9 is visible at the following link to Google Street View, here: https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Fichardstraße+9,+60322+Frankfurt+am+Main,+Germany/@50.1226281,8.678198,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x47bd0eb6dac8bf87:0x491c020d6cede64a!8m2!3d50.1226281!4d8.6803867

Number 9 is to the right of the blue block of flats. It looks as though number 9 is a new block that has replaced something older, however. I have not yet been able to ascertain what bei Strumfeld refers to/ means.


One of the laws passed by the National Socialists in 1933 prevented Jews from participating in state teacher training programs, and neither could Jews take up teaching places in state schools. Thus, despite his qualification (above), by the time Werner was seeking employment after his years at Breslau – in a country that largely would not employ Jews in any sphere – Philanthropin was one of the few places he was able to find a post. Indeed, from around 1937 onwards, Philanthropin was one of the few institutions where Jewish cultural life could be maintained. It was a haven for children from all over Germany who could no longer attend school elsewhere. Throughout the state they were constantly assaulted on the way to school, at school by pupils and teachers alike, or expelled.

Werner with his pupils at Philanthropin school, Frankfurt am Main
Werner with his pupils at Philanthropin school, Frankfurt am Main

There was an English teacher at Philanthropin around this time, Henry Philipp, who would not survive incarceration in Buchenwald after the 1938 November pogroms; the other staff member who died was Ernst Marbach. Many of the staff were to carry permanent scars of one kind of another after their imprisonment, and some of the older members did not live many years after that experience. Nevertheless, the school stayed open until 1941, when the remaining teachers were deported and then imprisoned in concentration camps.

According to Werner’s notes, in November 1938, he was – together with the entire teaching community, if they were of the male gender – taken to a concentration camp (Dachau, in Werner’s case; as far as I have been able to ascertain the others all ended up in Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald), where he remained until February 1939.

After his release was recorded, on 6 February 1939, Werner had to report to the police office until he was able to emigrate to England, where he was placed in a refugee camp (with limited freedom of movement).

November 1938

One of many puzzles I hope to solve in the course of this research is why and how my father ended up in Dachau, when his colleagues at Philanthropin, as I understand it, were sent to Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen. It might have been because he lived outside the city (see section above). The pogroms started at first light, so he would probably have been in his lodgings, which were a few miles outside Frankfurt city centre, when the round ups were taking place.

As yet, this is a mystery I haven’t managed to solve, but so far Werner is the only member of Philanthropin staff that I have found to have been sent to Dachau.

The image that follows is from the Dachau entry book – Werner’s name is towards the end of the page – five names up – on the left. According to the ITS, in which this document was found, he entered Dachau on 14th November 1938.

Dachau entry book 1938
Dachau entry book 1938

For information on the November pogroms and on Dachau prison camp, please click on the links in the text above. I can’t add anything of our own information to this section, as my father didn’t ever mentioned he had been imprisoned here; we did not know until after he died.

Werner was given Haftling (prisoner) number 24231.

When Werner was imprisoned in Dachau, the family would have had to scramble to obtain all kinds of documents and bribes to try and get their son out of the prison camp. The date of this Polish version of Werner’s birth certificate shows this to be one such instance; it must have been obtained by the family to this end. On the reverse side of the document it states ‘Original photocopy, from Wiest und Sohn, 30 Goethestrasse, Ffm.’ – so it was copied in Frankfurt am Main, where Werner had been living before his arrest. Today, Goethestrasse is an upmarket street in the business district; it was constructed between 1892 and 1984. From Google Streeview, it looks as though the road may have had war damage – it all looks new now, in any case, and number 30 is now a medical practice.

Leaving Germany

Obviously, this section is taking some research, but in the meantime I am uploading the documents and letters that we have here, which illuminate the process.

Philanthropin school, Frankfurt am Main
Letter from Philanthropin school, Frankfurt am Main; March 1939. Translation follows

Frankfurt am Main 3rd March, 1939

School Council, Frankfurt, Nr 5085

Mr Werner Weissenberg

On behalf of Director Dr Hirsch


The Jewish Community has informed us regarding your emigration that the advice centre of Jewish Aid in Germany in Gleiwitz considers that in regard to your preparations, the matter will be dealt with in Frankfurt by the Aid authorities there as that is your present place of residence.

The School Council

J. A. Felix Israel Meyering

(Translation by Helga Brown BA Dip. Ed. née Steinhardt)

Letter: 3rd March 1939

3rd March 1939 – Copy of letter


Representation for Jews in Germany

Berlin Charlottenburg 2 Kaiserstrasse 158, Tel: 91, 9141

3rd March 1939

Ⅲ Fst/Val.

Werner W.

c/o Philanthropin

Frankfurt  a. M,

Hebelstrasse 15.

As a result of our conversation I report that with regard to the obligation of the representation of the Jewish Cultural Community for the Education of Jewish Children, there is no case for the National Ministry of Education in conjunction with the Secret Service Police in Berlin, to help teachers who have been freed from concentration camps to assist with emigration.

As regards a possible scholarship from Cambridge, we advise you to send your CV and reports to Dr Adolf Leschnitz, 9, The Green, Cambridge, England.

Representative of the School Department for Jews in Germany.

Signed Fürst

(Translation by Helga Brown BA Dip. Ed. née Steinhardt)

Letter: 10th March 1939

10_03_1939_001 10_03_1939_002

Frankfurt, 10th March 1939

Hebelstrasse 13

Dr Adolf Leschnitzer, Cambridge

Dear Doctor,

Two weeks ago I talked to the school department (in Berlin) of the state authority to find out the possibility of my emigrating and, above all, to establish if there are any job openings abroad. Mrs Furst promised that she would get in touch with you on my behalf and in a letter gave me your address with the advice that I should submit to you, Sir, a CV with copies of my reports with a view to obtaining a scholarship in Cambridge.

I am following the advice from Mrs Furst and am sending you, Sir, the papers requested. At the same time, I beg you to pave the way for me to obtain the above-mentioned scholarship. Of course I would be happy with any other appointment available towards which you can steer me and help of any kind would be most gratefully appreciated.

I am assuming that you are familiar with my lengthy correspondence with the school department and the state authority, and the exchange of correspondence I had with you last year, and you will recollect my efforts to get away. I am eternally grateful for your future assistance in this respect and your help so far. In expectation of a positive outcome in this affair

I am with greatest respect

Yours most sincerely

Werner Weissenberg

A report from Dr Hirsch from the school will follow in the next week.

(Translation by Helga Brown BA Dip. Ed. née Steinhardt)

Certificate: 10 March 1939

Stamped: 10th March 1939, page one; certificate dated 29th May 1936
Stamped: 10th March 1939, page one; certificate dated 29th May 1936
Stamped: 10th March 1939, page two; certificate dated 29th May 1936
Stamped: 10th March 1939, page two; certificate dated 29th May 1936


Regarding the scientific assessment for the teaching degree for higher schools

Mr Werner Weissenberg, born 7th November 1911 in Pless O.S., of Jewish religion, passed his A-levels at the Gymnasium in Beuthen O.S on March 12th 1930 and studied Mathematics and Natural Sciences from Easter 1930 until Michaelmas 1933 and from Easter 1934 until Michaelmas 1935 in Breslau.

In the summer terms 1933 and 1935 he was granted leave (note: beurlauben in German can also mean to suspend).

In the winter term 1933/34 he was a visiting student at the university of Breslau.

Given the notice from 20th May 1935 according to the ministerial accord from 7.12.1933, and being eligible for the examination for teaching in higher schools, he received the following exercises for written examination:

  1. Theory of the spatial problem of Lagrange (without side conditions) with two variable end points
  2. Contributions to the explanation of Schaefer Bergmann’schen interference experiments

He passed the oral examination on the 27th, 28th and 29th May 1936.

Herr Werner Weissenberg passed the exam for teaching in higher schools.

He received in Mathematics, his major, grade ‘Good’

W.Nr. 756.

EVIIa 564 38

In Physics, his second major, he received the grade ‘sufficient’ and in his minor course Chemistry, grade ‘Good’.

Given his performance in the written and oral examination the grade

‘Well passed’

Is awarded to him

Breslau, 29th May 1936

Ministry for scientific examination

Kölling for Baur, Radon, Fues, Schaefer, Dittrich

The Director of Philanthropin, Frankfurt am Main, on 10.03.1939, Albert Hirsch

Letter: 13 March 1939

Recommendation from Albert Hirsch: Philanthropin, 13 March 1939

Philanthropin Tgb.4338/8

Frankfurt am Main

Hebelstrasse 15

Fernruf: 51494

13th March 1939

Herr Werner Weissenberg was on the staff of Philanthropin from 17.8.36 until now. He gave lessons in several classes and recently taught his subjects Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics. Herr Weissenberg is extremely well educated and he takes every opportunity to impart it. He prepared his experiments with the greatest care, especially in the study of natural science and has often found new ways of conducting experiments. Thus he has shown, during his lessons, to pupils of different classes successful teaching. He dedicated his time to teaching interested pupils beyond his lesson time and has achieved much towards school development.

He has also taken part in the formulation of the school timetable for this large institution. He has also been involved in all theoretical organisations of seminars with great insight. He has also been involved enthusiastically in all sporting activities of the school and was leader of a group of gymnastic members of a school sports association.

Herr Weissenberg is a polite, helpful person, and very popular with his colleagues.

I very much hope that he will be able to use his abilities in the subjects in which he shows talent in the future.

Dr Albert Israel Hirsch

Director of Philanthropin

Letter: 17 March 1939

Letter: Reichsvertretung der Juden in Deutschland
Letter: Reichsvertretung der Juden in Deutschland

When Werner was incarcerated in Dachau, his family would have been frantically trying to get him out, as all such families would have been for the 30,000 men imprisoned during the November 1938 pogroms. In part, Jewish families had to pay to get their men out of the prisons, and in part it became clear that if the men undertook to leave Germany, they would be released from the camps.

For some reason, Werner obtained a rare and much-coveted place at Kitchener Camp on the English south coast, which is mentioned in the confirmation letter above from Reichsvertretung der Juden in Deutschland, which  translates as follows:

Reichsvertretung der Juden in Deutschland / Representative of the Jews in Germany

Department of Emigration

Berlin-Charlottenburg 2,

Kantstrasse 158

17 March 1939

Re: Transit Camp in Richborough England

Ref: C7/B Gleiwitz 47

Herrn Werner Israel Weissenberg

Frankfurt Am Main

15 Hebelstrasse Philanthropin

With reference to our discussion I am informing you that your acceptance by the Transit Camp Richborough has been confirmed.

There will be an interlude of 14 days before the English Consul is empowered to issue the visa. However, we request that you make all your preparations for your travel and complete all formalities so that you are ready to commence your journey as soon as you receive your visa.

You will receive further details about all your particulars forthwith.

Yours faithfully

Reichsvertretung der Juden in Deutschland

Department of Emigration (C 7)

Dr Paul Israel Eppstein                                   Günter Israel Friedlander

If you have any queries please quote your reference number

Nr. 525

Document: 12 May 1939

12th May 1939, Antrag
12th May 1939, Antrag

Application – Resolution

Articles to accompany your journey, including hand luggage, for

Teacher Werner Israel Weissenberg, born 7.11.1911 in Pless O/S

Destination: England

Time: as soon as possible

Your application for air transfer has not been requested



Clearance Certificate for tax purposes for luggage for the appropriate Finance Office

Same certificate for the Accounts Office

Declaration of Wealth with endorsement of appropriate Finance Office according to the situation on 1.1.1935 and today’s present situation

Declaration on Oath that no outstanding debts exist

Declaration on Oath that no State Bank is in the position of owner’s requests by foreign demands

Declaration on Oath that there is no overseas deposit of valuable documents

Travel and hand luggage. List I + List II

Frankfurt am Main, 12th May 1939

Hebelstrasse 13

Werner Israel Weissenberg

Document: May 1939 – Instruction sheet / Merkblatt, Foreign Exchange Bureau, Frankfurt am Main

Merkblatt, page one
Merkblatt, page one
Merkblatt, page two
Merkblatt, page two

Instruction Sheet

For removal of goods

For a decision on the application of transferring property on removal the following papers are required:

1) 2 copies are required by the issuer of visas.

  1. Occupation
  2. Country of destination
  3. Time of packing and loading
  4. Shipping agent

The following questions to be answered:

Where are the goods?

Has an application for transfer been placed and in what form?

The application is to be signed by the applicant or by an empowered representative with place and date duly signed

2) Two copies of declaration of clearance for the Finance Office responsible with regard to the transfer of possessions

3) Two copies of declaration of clearance to the Accounts Offices, City Treasurer’s Office or Mayor’s Offices

4) Two copies of declaration of clearance with endorsement by the Finance Office according to the regulations of 1.1.35 and todays

5) Two copies of Declaration under Oath that there are no outstanding debts

6) Two copies that no demands for payment have been made for outstanding debts by banks abroad

7) Two copies of Declaration under Oath that no documents of value have been deposited abroad

8) Four copies of lists of goods to be transported for removal to a place abroad

List 1: Contents which have been acquired before 1.1.1933

List 2: Contents which have been acquired from 1.1.33 to 31.12.37

List 3: Contents of goods acquire between the period of 1.1.38 and the time of emigration with details of purchase prices and receipts. If these are not available a value of the goods to be given (an estimate)

  1. If new purchases have been made the necessity for their purchase is to be given
  2. Art objects must be accurately described
  3. Collections of items such as “laundry, clothing, kitchen utensils” are not permitted
  4. Planned purchases for the removal are to be itemised with their costs. If parts of goods have been sent by freight information must be provided clearly

9) Four copies – travel packing list – items must be listed separately as

  1. a) Hand luggage
  2. b) Passenger luggage

All objects for packing must already be included in the household effects list.

10) The inclusion of jewellery and valuables is strictly prohibited.

With the exception of:

  1. Wedding ring of the emigrant
  2. Pocket watch or wrist watch valued up to 100 RM
  3. Used cutlery – silver 1 set per person for a family of 3, 1 extra set for family of 5 and additional items like carvers. Each piece total weight 40 gm and total no more than 200 gm

Proof of remaining jewellery is to be handed over to the tax offices in Frankfurt

  1. Further lists and applications not included will not be considered or returned

Foreign Exchange bureau

Frankfurt am Main

Document: May 1939 – Nachtrag


Nachtrag / [Appendage]

Application for sending goods upon removal to another country

Article 10 of the notification for sending goods has been changed in the following manner:

The taking of jewellery and articles of value is strongly forbidden with the exception of

a) The wedding ring of the person emigrating and his/her deceased spouse

b) A silver bracelet or pocket watch

c) Silver cutlery old- 2 sets of 4 items of cutlery consisting of knives, forks spoons and teaspoons (small spoons) per person

d) Silver articles weighing 40 grams per item and a total of 200gm per person

e) Dental plates made of precious metal if in use by the emigrant.

Letter: 2 June 1939

2nd June 1939, page one
2nd June 1939, page two


                                   Help Association for Jews in Germany

Emigration Department

Berlin W35,

Ludendorffstrasse 20

                                                                                    2nd June 1939


Herrn Werner Weissenberg

Frankfurt am Main,

Hebelstrasse 13

Transit Camp Richborough/Kent

Personal Reply

Tel 25 06 33

You have been allocated a place on the transport to the transit camp in England on the 5th June 1939.

We assume that you have meanwhile obtained a through ticket

Cologne, Aachen, Ostend, Dover, Deal to the station at Sandwich

and we would ask you to send your luggage on this ticket to Dover. You must arrange your departure to arrive in Cologne on

Monday 5th June 39 at nine o’clock in the evening.

You will see from the enclosed plan how you can contact our advice centre. In Cologne you will be put in touch with the help of the advice centre with the participants from the country and above all with the organisers of the transport.

You will continue the journey from Cologne at 1 o’clock at night in the direction of Ostend Dover. You have to hand over tickets, passports and certificates to the organisers.

We would urgently request you to obey all instructions given by the Cologne advisors and to support the organisers by behaving respectfully at all times during your journey and give them your support.

Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland / The Association for Jews in Germany

Emigration Department

Dr Hubert Israel Pollard

Notification Cologne 215574

For travellers out of the country who are joining the transport in Cologne.

Travellers out of the country to the camp who are joining the group in Cologne on the appointed day must meet at the latest at 21.00 hours in the evening.

In case you arrive in Cologne in the afternoon before 18.00 hours you can announce your arrival at our advice office in Cologne until 18.30. Mauitiussteinweg 11. If you arrive in the Community Centre Cacilienstreet 18/22 from 19 hours, where the advisors will meet you.

(Translation by Helga Brown BA Dip. Ed. née Steinhardt)

You have to leave in three days’ time: what do you take with you?

On the whole, we don’t know what Werner carried out of Germany with him, and I also recall a story from childhood that the British Army rifled through the contents of the refugees’ suitcases and bags (see also Ungerson, p. 173-174), when they were in enforced storage at Kitchener Camp, but we do still have some of the items he brought out of Germany in 1939, and some these can be seen in the gallery below. I hope to upload more images shortly.

A passport out of Germany


1939 Reichpass
Note the pink ‘J’ for Juden stamped on the passport , and the middle name ‘Israel’, which all Jewish men were obliged to add if their name was not deemed Jewish enough’ for easy identification
Werner Weissenberg – Reichpass description
The text here reads: At home and abroad; the pass is invalid on 02 April 1940
Reichpass 1939
Frankfurt issuing authority
Reichpass 1939
Visa for United Kingdom Note: “Good for single journey only”
Reichpass 1939
Transit visa stamps

The outbreak of war

I doubt there would have been a single man in Kitchener Camp who did not have someone they had assumed they would have been able to get out of Germany when they left there in 1939. When war broke out on 3rd September, the Kitchener men must have known with heavy hearts that any possible hope of exit for their families had now ended.

I know from family letters and documents that Werner was trying to get his uncle’s daughter out, to the USA, which is where he was attempting to get to himself. His mother Else had said that she couldn’t leave – that she was too old to learn a new language and start again in a new country – and that anyway, she couldn’t leave her very elderly mother, who wouldn’t have been able to travel.

There was also a financial issue by this stage. Families had had to pay huge sums of money to get their husbands and sons out of the camps after the incarcerations that followed the November 1938 pogroms, and most Jewish families would have been losing their businesses and jobs over the preceding six years since the National Socialists came to power in 1933. Jews had even been forced to pay for the repairs required to towns and cities after the pogroms…

So, I suppose our family will have done what many would have done – what many did do, in fact – which was to get their youngsters out. The focus would have been on finding a means to pay for the exit of those young enough to work and to start again. Most countries that agreed to take in Jews in the 1930s (and many had strict limits on numbers), would only take those who could work to support themselves. So, children and elderly parents and grandparents stayed behind, while their young men and to some extent young women were sent away to what they hoped was safety. There would have been some remaining hope that eventually these youngsters would become settled enough, and have earned enough, to be able to bring their families over to join them.

Those who were financially able to leave for the USA or the UK, for Shanghai, Latin America or Australia, will often have survived the War; those who left for other European countries, of course, will have been less fortunate. Hindsight is a wonderful gift …

Survival for German Jews, then, will often have been an issue of class, in the end – of whether a family had enough money and the global connections to be able to leave. And it would also have been a gender issue: young men were far more likely to be able to show that they could work to support themselves in this era than young women. It would also have been more acceptable to the society of the time for young men to travel great distances alone than it would have been for women.

At Kitchener Camp, Phineas May, one of the brothers who helped organise the camp, wrote his last diary entry on 30th August 1939. Despite everyone’s best efforts, morale in the camp had been deteriorating along with the political situation. When war broke out, the international borders with Germany closed, of course, and although a final contingent of refugees arrived on 24 August, the men must have realised that this was likely to be the end of any more fellow German and Austrian Jews making it to Kent. It is believed that there were around 3,500 men in the camp when war broke out (see Ungerson, p. 141).

One change at Kitchener was that from 5th September there were some 200 women in the camp – all of whom were wives of some of the men. Although this had long been requested, most women that had obtained leave to come to England had had to do so as domestic servants. With the outbreak of war, however, British children had been evacuated out of the cities in large numbers, and these Jewish wives who had been living in and around Sandwich had to make way for the children. A few were able to bring their own children with them to the camp – a situation that was regarded by everyone as temporary (see Ungerson, pp. 141-142).

Another change brought about by the outbreak of war was that the men were finally allowed to work. They had been refused permission to take up paid employment when they had first arrived, in part so that there would be no local resentment of a ‘foreigners-taking-our-jobs’ kind. From September 1939, however, they were allowed to help famers with the harvest and to help with the building of coastal defences.

Before they were to be allowed to undertake any work, however (and remember, by the nature of the difficulties and expense involved in leaving Germany in the 1930s, many of these were highly educated people), the Kitchener Camp men had to undergo security checks. Solicitors were sent to decide who was a ‘friendly’ and who was an ‘enemy alien’. Interviews were held, and it was clear that the solicitors already had extensive background information on the men. For the first time, many told their horrific narratives of the removal of their livelihoods and confiscation of property; of being tortured, beaten, and starved; of the loss of family and friends (Ungerson, p. 154).

The vast majority of the men were declared to be ‘friendly aliens’, and ‘A victim of Nazi oppression’ was stamped in many passports, according to Ungerson (154). In my father’s case, he was given an Aliens Order, 1920 Certificate of Registration, number 711651, in which ‘Refugee from Nazi Oppression’ has been stamped (see images below).

Aliens Order, 1920 _ Certificate of Registration, front cover
Aliens Order, 1920 _ Certificate of Registration, front cover
Aliens Order, 1920 _ Certificate of Registration, pages 1 and 2
Aliens Order, 1920 _ Certificate of Registration, pages 1 and 2
Aliens Order, 1920 _ Certificate of Registration, pages 3 and 4
Aliens Order, 1920 _ Certificate of Registration, pages 3 and 4
Aliens Order, 1920 _ Certificate of Registration, pages 7 and 8
Aliens Order, 1920 _ Certificate of Registration, pages 7 and 8
Aliens Order, 1920 _ Certificate of Registration, back cover
Aliens Order, 1920 _ Certificate of Registration, back cover

Within weeks of the end of this process, the German and Austrian Jewish men of Kitchener Camp were enlisting in the British Army.

We have an image of Werner’s ‘Male Enemy Alien – Exemption from Internment’ – Refugee’ card, but are not allowed to post it because of copyright restrictions and costs imposed by the National Archives. However, we are allowed to transcribe the information on it, which is as follows:

Surname: Weissenberg

Forenames: Werner, Israel

Alias: ---

Nationality: German

Police Regn. Cert. No. 711651

Home Office ref no: C 50

Address: Kitchener Camp, Richborough, Sandwich, Kent

Normal occupation: Teacher

Present occupation: ---

Name and address of employer: ---

Decision of tribunal: Exempted "C" & 9a      Date: 13.10.1939

Whether exempted from Article 6(A): Yes

Whether desires to be repatriated: No


Please see the next page for Werner’s war years: The Second World War, or turn to his Postwar Years in England.