Weissenborn, Hellmuth (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 3771
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 120, Number Of Items 4
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

German private served as machine gunner with German Army in France and Russia, 1916-1918; student and academic with Leipzig Academy, Leipzig, Germany, 1919-1937; refugee in Denmark and GB, 1937-1940; internee in Warff Mills Internment Camp, Bury and Hutchinson Internment Camp, Douglas, Isle of Man, GB, 1940; fireman served with Auxiliary Fire Service in London, GB, 1941

Content description

REEL 1 Aspects of period as machine gunner with German Army in France and Russia, 1916-1918: enlistment at age of sixteen; pattern of First World War service; sketching battlefield at Arras, France. Background in Leipzig, Germany, 1898-1914: father’s career; early interest in art. Recollections of period as student and academic at Leipzig Academy, Leipzig, Germany, 1919-1937: subjects studied as student; joining academy staff; impact of Nazis coming to power; reasons for reluctance to give Nazi salute; admiration for director of academy; memories of Nazi deputy director; decision to leave academy, 1937; emigration to GB via Denmark, 12/1938; opinion of source of anti-Semitism in Germany; Jewish community in Leipzig; question of employment; tells joke about people claiming to be Nazis; threat of servant to denounce him to Gestapo. REEL 2 Continues: enquires made at academy by Gestapo; attitude towards politics and art; arrangements for immigration to GB; attitude towards GB and military service in First World War; attitude towards father’s socialist views. Aspects of period as refugee in GB, 1938-1940: difficulties obtaining work; attending tribunal and categorisation; arrest as Enemy Alien, 6/1940. Recollections of period as internee at Warth Mills, Internment Camp in Bury and Hutchinson Internment Camp, Douglas, Isle of Man, GB, 1940: attitude towards internment in Warth Mills Internment Camp; improvement in conditions at Hutchinson Internment Camp; volunteering to cook for fellow internees; separation from wife prior to internment; opinion of camp guards. REEL 3 Continues: desire for release in order to work for war effort; description of accommodation; organisation of camp life; artistic and cultural activities; opinion of camp staff; psychological state during internment; languages spoken in camp; means of payment in camp; materials used for art work; character of internees. REEL 4 Continues: listening to radio broadcasts; release from camp, 12/1940. Aspects of period as fireman with Auxiliary Fire Service in London, GB, 1941: joining Auxiliary Fire Service in London; opinion of resilience of British population during German air offensive; rations; continuing art work; prior recollections of psychological effects of internment and relations with ex-internees. Lack of desire to return to Leipzig in Soviet Zone of Germany, post 1945.

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