Wolff, Helga Jenni (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 27093
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 125, Number Of Items 5
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

German Jewish civilian in Frankfurt, Germany, 1933-1938; emigrated to France and GB, 1938-1939; civilian in London and Keswick, GB, 1939-1945

Content description

REEL 1 Aspects of background in Frankfurt, Germany, and Paris, France, 1923-1939: details of Frankfurt; family including father's reaction to later loss of business; division of western and eastern European Jews in Frankfurt including integration of western Jews in society and religion of family; details of reunion of Frankfurt's Jews and further details of division among Jews; awareness of Jewishness; story of talk from teacher about differences between Jews and Aryans; subsequent segregation within school; events leading to loss of father's business; changes to family lifestyle; details of father's business. REEL 2 Continues: awareness of book burning; parents' awareness of dangers in Germany; discussion of problems faced by non-Jewish civilians in being able to choose how to act toward Jews; anti-Semitism in France; continued relationships with non-Jewish friends; family home; education; expulsion and its effects on brother, Kurt Cohn; later selection of brother for work in Bolivia; reasons for move to Paris; departure for Paris, 8/1938; details of dress business owned by relatives in Paris; further details of reasons for move to Paris; knowledge of events in Germany; activities and life in Paris; problems with visa and visits to immigration officials. REEL 3 Continues: offers of places in orphanages; preparations for journey to GB, 5/1939; scenes on leaving Paris with transport of children; details of journey to London. Aspects of period as civilian in GB, 1939-1945: selection on arrival; activities during period at Bedford College accommodation in Maida Vale; problems with life at Bedford College; further details of leisure activities; details of transport Wolff travelled on; tribunal and classification as enemy alien in Watford; gaining of civilian work with John Lewis; accommodation in brothel; contact with family from Paris and London; story of beating received by father; education including story of gaining work with Eleanor Rathbone MP and memories of colleagues at John Lewis; civilian work undertaken for Eleanor Rathbone including with internees; education. REEL 4 Continues: story of gaining place and funding for teacher training in Catholic college; details of training undertaken in Keswick including accommodation; memories of Eleanor Rathbone including story of final meeting; further details of teacher training including attempt to gain more time-off for kitchen staff; VE Day celebrations. Aspects of period as civilian in GB from 1945: learning of family's fate and reaction; civilian work as teacher. REEL 5 Continues: talking about experiences in GB and Germany including at Imperial War Museum; attitudes of different generations toward Holocaust in Germany; discussion of teaching of Holocaust and effects on subsequent generations of survivors; effects of Holocaust on brother, Kurt Cohn; daughter's searches for Wolff's family and friends.

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