After the War: Life in England

 under construction …

Postwar: Leaving the British Army

Info_War Office Leaving Service Booklet_Cover page

Info_War Office Leaving Service Booklet_page 1 and 2

Info_War Office Leaving Service Booklet_page 3 and 4

Info_War Office Leaving Service Booklet_page 5 and 6

Info_War Office Leaving Service Booklet_page 7 and 8

Info_War Office Leaving Service Booklet_page 9 and 10


Postwar – how to contact family members

When the war ended, Jewish survivors faced the awful problem of trying to find out whether anyone from their families had survived, and of how to contact any survivors.

From the two letters below, we can see that Werner is trying to make contact with Margot: her letters also state that she has been struggling to contact him from the French zone of Berlin.


Letter: nd, American Joint Distribution Committee

American Joint_postwar nd
American Joint – postwar search for family
Bloomsbury House_postwar_search
Bloomsbury House, postwar search

Leopold’s gold watch

One of the many ways in which Fraulein Hoffmeister was a very good friend to Else was in keeping safe Werner’s father’s gold watch. Sadly, Werner and his mother’s old friend never met – she died soon after the end of the war. However, a cousin, Frau Dora Raimer, was in contact with Werner, and she and Johanne Denkler (a niece of Fraulein Hoffmeister) went to some trouble to help in the arrangements for the return of the family letters and for the more complicated return of Leopold‘s watch to his son – the only items that were ever returned to Werner from all those old family homes and businesses.

1948_10-21

202:Z_Notes on Gold Watch_001202:Z_Notes on Gold Watch_002


Dr Max Heyn, Berlin

Dr Max Heyn (born in Breslau, 5 Oct 1899) was employed to help Werner in his task of discovering the fate of his family after the war.

Many of the letters we now hold are those sent to and from my father and Dr Heyn – who was himself a forced labourer during the war.


Letter: 18 August 1958

18th August 1958

W. Weissenberg

Elland, Yorks.

England.

 

To the Judiciary

Berlin- Schoeneberg

With ref: Transaction 72 11 308/58.

In reply to your letter of 5th August 1958.

The information regarding the deportation of my grandmother Frau Hermine Bloch geb. Kohn in May 1942 is described in letters from my mother, without any doubt, who lived with my grandmother for many years, addressed to her late friend Fraulein W. Hoffmeister, at that time resident in Hameln (Weser) Baecker Strasse 34. Fraulein Hoffmeister collected these letters and, after her death, the letters were forwarded to me by her niece, Fraulein J. Denkler, Altenau, Bergstrasse 114, immediately at the first opportunity after the end of the war.

From these letters it was evident that my mother and grandmother were requested on the 14th May 1942 to appear before the police station in Gleiwitz, on the following Sunday, and to prepare for deportation to Poland. They were forbidden to take more than 20 pounds of luggage each and to take enough food for two days in their rucksacks. From the letters, more details can be ascertained about the situation. The last letter received by Fraulein Hoffmeister is dated 25th May 1942, in which my mother, aware of the fate in store for her and other members of the family, knew they were to be deported. Neither Fraulein Hoffmeister nor any other person following that date heard any more from my mother or grandmother. It was impossible to find out any more about their fate at the end of the war. As Gleiwitz was part of Poland after the war, it was not possible to find out anything further about the whereabouts of the family property other than the documents relating to my parents or grandparents.

As I recognise the handwriting of my mother in the above mentioned letter, I consider the contents authentic. That my mother and grandmother lost their lives in the camp at Auschwitz, which is not far from Gleiwitz, is to me a very likely assumption, in the absence of documentary evidence from the inmates of others in similar circumstances in the camp. Obviously I cannot supply evidence.

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


Letter: 21 September 1958

21 September 1958, page one
21 September 1958, page two

Extracts from letters sent on 21st September 1958 to Miss Hoffmeister

(1) Date: 14.5.42

Today we received the demand to appear at the Police Headquarters on Sunday morning and assume with certainty that our deportation is imminent. If you have God on your side my dear, he has forgotten us.

(2) Date:  22.5.42

On the 27th or the 28th we are once again to be deported with the transport. We can only take a rucksack, which my mother can hardly carry, which will contain everything we need for summer and winter; no bedding, no sheets, only the barest necessities for two people. It must not weigh more than 20 pounds. I couldn’t carry more anyway. Anyone who packs more is forced to leave everything and will have to leave with nothing. There is two days’ supply of bread, sliced pieces, and a flask of cold coffee. They are talking about a meeting up in Poland. We might even be going to Russia. They even took an 89 year old woman: many are over 80. They are all transported in the Police Vehicle and spend the night in the Police Chief’s air-raid shelter.

(3) Date:  25.5.42

And when I re-read your golden words I cry many tears. I try not to become so stressed. What do you know with your cultured outlook towards everything you experience? What do you know of the wickedness and meanness of humanity; it is probably better that you don’t know because knowledge will lead to doubts about humanity.

I can only write via Frau B, if that is possible, and please do not reply because I have no confirmation that it will not fall into the wrong hands. I do not want my landlady to see it. I hope you will retain your faith and stay in good health, my dear source of comfort. If I don’t write, you will know that there is no opportunity to do so. My sisters-in-law are no longer in B.; they wrote very sad letters. A final goodbye.

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


1959

As a new decade approached, Werner’s search continued – both for news of his family and for some form of restitution.


Letter: 27 February 1959

27 February 1959, page one
27 February 1959, page two
27 February 1959, page three

 

27th February 1959

Copy

Ref. 90/1959

No Tax payable

Dealt with by the German Consul in Liverpool

27th February 1959

Consulate of the Federal Republic of Germany

The Consul Dr W. H. van Almsick, who is entitled to deal with all authorised documents at the office of German representation in Liverpool today, forwarded the following details:

Werner Weissenberg – Teacher,

Born 7.11.1911 in Pless,

Resident: 16 Hammerstones Rd, Elland, Yorks.

Evidence: by presentation of his British Passport nr. L0 349 322, issued by the Foreign Office on 31st March 1955,

Declared:

My (maternal) grandmother Frau Hermine Bloch geb. Kohn born on 2.8.1854 in Schwieben, Kreis Gleiwitz, Upper Silesia, was declared dead from the 31.12.1945 by the judicial authorities in Cologne on 14.1.1959 –Akt.Z. 4-II-148/58.

As far as I know, the deceased did not leave any instructions about the death. She was married only once to Joseph Bloch, I do not know his date of birth, who died in 1916 in Tost, Upper Silesia.

From this marriage there were four children, namely:

1) Else Weissenberg geb. Bloch, mother of the applicant, born on the 8.1.1882 in Raschau, Upper Silesia, deported in May 1942 to the East.

Until May 1942, resident in Gleiwitz,

Married 30 October 1910

to Leopold Weissenberg, born 24 February 1881, who died in Gleiwitz in 1941.

2) Fedor Bloch, born 1884, deported 1941 or 1942.

He had a daughter Betty Bloch, born around 1913, from whom I did not receive any news during the war. Her last place of residence was Mönchen Gladbach.

3) Kurt Bloch, born 1886, murdered end of 1942.

He had 2 daughters, namely:

a) Ruth Bloch, born around 1927 and

b) Ilse Bloch, born around 1929.

4) Rosa Grushka geb. Bloch, born 1895, died 1933.

She had one daughter Margot Kornfeld geb. Gruschka

Born 1916, now living in New York (NY) USA.

My grandparents and my parents were German until 1939 when I left. What nationality they had at the time I cannot ascertain.

All my efforts to find information about the fate of the following after the war proved fruitless:

My mother Else Weissenberg

My Uncle Fedor Bloch, his daughter Betty Bloch

My Uncle Kurt Bloch, his two daughters Ruth and Ilse Bloch.

It is therefore likely that they were killed on the orders of the National Socialist Persecution Policy. I therefore request death certificates for the time of their death, according to legal requirements, which are, to my knowledge, 31.12.1945.

The deceased have no heirs in England. The only claims to the heirlooms and property are in Germany. They consist of claims for compensation, which have been submitted to the relevant authorities.

The legal heirs to the deceased are therefore:

  • I myself, and
  • Margot Kornfeld

Each ½ of the heritage. I do not know of a document regarding the death of my parents.

Legal heirs to my father Leopold Weissenberg were therefore:

Else Weissenberg ¼

I, Werner Weissenberg ¾

According to law I am the sole heir. I am assuming that at the time of death my parents and grandmother had German nationality. If this assumption is incorrect then they were stateless and the situation would be the same.

I am therefore claiming heritage for all three deceased.

As far as I know there was no official will made by the three during their lifetime. There is no-one contesting the heritage. There are no other claimants. I am applying for compensation and because of this, no fees will be incurred. I can see no-one objecting to my claims and I am aware of the fines for making false claims.

I request as a result of the above details of my family a document for my inheritance.

I request a signed original and two authenticated confirmations to be sent to the applicant. The applicant has approved the negotiation and signed.

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


Mr and Mrs Werner Weissenberg: Wedding day, February 1960

Mr and Mrs Weissenberg - wedding, 1960


Lebenslauf / CV

Lebenslauf: Werner Weissenberg, page one
Lebenslauf: Werner Weissenberg, page one
Lebenslauf: Werner Weissenberg, page two
Lebenslauf: Werner Weissenberg, page two
Lebenslauf: Werner Weissenberg, page three
Lebenslauf: Werner Weissenberg, page three

Lebenslauf / CV

I was born in Pless in November 1911. In 1921, I was accepted by the classical grammar school in Beuthen (Upper Silesia) and in 1930 I passed the School Leaving Certificate at the same school.

At the start of the summer term in 1930 I started to study Maths and Natural Sciences at Breslau University. In 1933 my studies were interrupted, partly because of the uncertainty which was due to lack of any future career prospects for Jewish Students at German universities, and partly due to my father’s dwindling income at the beginning of the National Socialist government, until, under the Geneva Convention, it was decided that after one year I could pursue my studies and complete them.

In May 1936 I passed the state’s exams for science in the teaching profession in higher schools – report ‘good’ in Maths, Physics and Chemistry.

Even under the existing measures according to the Geneva Convention, I was not admitted to  public preparation for service (in teaching). Eventually, at a very small salary, I was employed by a Jewish High School, the Philanthropin, in Frankfurt, partly as a temporary assistant and partly to complete my qualifications privately.

In November 1938, with all the male teachers in the school, I was taken to the concentration camp where I remained until February 1939. After my release I had to report regularly to the police until I was successful in arranging my emigration to England, where I entered a refugee camp with restricted liberty.

I had to do physically hard labour in the following years, and then I was accepted by the Medical Services, which I carried on with until the end of the war. In the meantime, I learned to speak English competently, so that I was able to obtain short-term appointments to assistant teaching jobs in secondary schools in England. In 1948 after Naturalisation and an acknowledgement of my teaching qualifications obtained in Germany by the British education authorities, I was appointed to a permanent teaching post at a secondary school.

In my present post I am the Head of Department responsible to the principle and the governors of the upper school in maths.

The grounds for my claim for compensation for educational interruption are as follows:

  1. Interruption of my studies in 1933 for a year
  2. The denial of a place in the public preparation of a good qualification in the state exam
  3. The time in the concentration camp and the time spent in preparation for emigration to England
  4. The time spent in England from 1939–1948, when I couldn’t pursue my career, or during the last two years when I had to accept short-term contracts, which were badly paid and not commensurate with my qualifications
  5. Under ordinary political circumstances I would have continued at university and taken the exams recognised by the state. In view of this I would have obtained a position of head of school, not an unimportant achievement in the past or present, which logically, without a PhD (doctorate) is hardly achievable in my present position.

It is practically unnecessary to add that in the teaching profession in England, to get a promotion from the position I had reached in Germany is not possible. The difficulties are insurmountable and arise from my lack of idiomatic English and my incomplete mastery of the language. The difference in school organisation, school exams, the way of life in so many ways is most remarkable. Entry for university differs from one to the next, especially in my subject. I have managed to overcome this by attending evening classes and researching the ways and means of continuing my studies during school holidays. The complete change of the education system from one to the other has not been an easy one for me, which you can easily perceive from my necessarily brief remarks.

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


Document: Affidavit / Eidesstattliche

English translation to follow

Eidesstattliche version two _001
Eidesstattliche, page one
Eidesstattliche version two _002
Eidesstattliche, page two

Eidesstattliche, page three

Eidesstattliche, page three


Scunthorpe Grammar School

Unknown start date to 1953

Under construction

Elland Grammar School

1953 to 1960s (?)

It is difficult to know what to write about Elland in this context. For most of the years he taught here, I believe my father very much enjoyed his work with the staff and students; but a change at the top was also what I believe pushed him over the edge into a depression from which he never recovered in work terms, when he encountered a shocking level of discrimination that he likened in letters to the abuse he received in Germany in the 1930s. As my dad was not one generally to exaggerate, as far as I recall, I was deeply shocked to see him draw this comparison when I recently started to read through his letters from this era.

I don’t know and – as the perpetrator of his harassment will be dead and unable to answer for his actions – I don’t wish to speculate about what happened to end Werner’s teaching career so early, and will instead focus on the positive years he spent here, before things changed for him to such an extraordinary extent.

Werner teaching in England

One of the many fascinating aspects of the research for this project has been the  number of emails I have received from former pupils at Elland Grammar School, with their memories of my dad. Of all the people I thought might get in touch, this group never occurred to me, yet it has been delightful to hear from quite a number of his one-time students.

Recommendation: 1962_04_03

I want to apologise here for not writing back individually to those who have written to me, but I have not felt it was appropriate in this context, not least because no-one has asked me to do so.

However, I do treasure the memories you have shared with me, and wish to reproduce some of them here, anonymously. If anyone wants their comments taken down, please just get in touch and of course I will remove them at once. Otherwise, I hope it is ok to reproduce a few of these memories here, as they help to round out the picture of Werner in his post-War years in England. I have removed any identifying information such as names and specific dates.

Hello! I have stumbled across your site, and thought my few memories of Werner Weissenberg may be of interest. I attended Elland Grammar School [in the 1950s], and for the middle 3 years was taught by Mr. W. I seem to think that we knew him as "Willi" Weissenberg, why, I do not know, hence Werner was something of a revelation ...  I did find him a fair teacher in that on one occasion when he caught me running along a corridor, he made me go back and walk it - other teachers would have sent for the detention book. Ten or 15 years ago, I was talking to *, whose husband also taught at Elland ... She knew Mr. Weissenburg and told me a little bit about his history, some of which I had an idea about (school boy rumours) and some I had no idea of at all. All in all, I have found your website interesting. Thank you.
The teaching work load …
I found this site last year whilst putting into Google the names of old staff members from Elland Grammar School. I attended EGS [in the 1960s] and was Head Boy ... Your father taught me maths for 4 years, 2 years for the old 'O' level and 2 years for 'A' level. As he says in my reports which I have just re-read I struggled a bit at A level but managed to scrape through and go on to study electronic engineering at * University. My friend ... got an A grade at maths, very rare in the '60's, and went on to study maths at * University ...  Only years later, probably after watching documentaries on TV etc. did I realise that this was his background and that he had probably escaped pre-war Europe. His nick-name was 'Vuzz' (rhyming with Buzz), passed down through generations of school pupils. He also manned one of the stop-watches on the annual school sports day in June, timing the races for the school record books.
Hope you don't mind me sharing these memories.
Happy Christmas message