Günther Wittenberg: personal papers and correspondence

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection contains the personal papers and correspondence of Günther Wittenberg who was sent to England on a Kindertransport in 1939. It includes a list of belongings taken to England (1722/1), cv and job applications, notices by the Ministry of Labour and National Service local appeal board, correspondence with family and friends (1722/3) and family trees (1722/5). Also included are letters from the Committee of the Landsberg Jewish Center and Jewish Committee of DP Center 7 Deggendorf regarding the fate of his parents (1722/4).

Administrative / Biographical History

Günther Wittenberg was born into the Jewish merchant family of Martin and Käthe Wittenberg in Berlin in 1925. He had a very patchy early education as he was unable to transfer to secondary school due to the racial restrictions that were in place. He missed his first year but was able to go to a newly founded Jewish school in Berlin-Moabit where he made good progress. Early in 1939, due to the rapidly deteriorating conditions for Jews in Germany, his parents were compelled to arrange for his emigration. Aged 14, he went on a Kindertransport to England. His parents were unable to emigrate as they were responsible for Günther's grandmother (mother's side) and because Nazi persecution had reduced their financial resources.

Günther was placed in a children's hostel at Westgate-on-Sea, Kent where he remained until the outbreak of the war in September 1939. He did not attend school during that time. He was moved to a hostel in Croydon, Surrey and in 1940 to a hostel in Forest Gate, London where he obtained his first job as an unskilled sheet metal worker for household goods. The living conditions at the hostel were very poor and he was moved to a larger boys' hostel in Kensington. He got a job in a commercial arts studio and later became a trainee with an engineering firm.

Günther corresponded with his parents regularly until the outbreak of the war, from which point on they communicated via Red Cross messages. In 1942, his parents wrote that they would have to leave Berlin. They were deported on the 21st Osttransport and did not survive the Holocaust.

Due to the patchy nature of Günther's earlier education and the need to support himself financially his part-time studies were not very successful. Over the next ten years he changed his employment several times but remained in the engineering industry.

Arrangement

Chronological and by subject.

Conditions Governing Access

See Wiener Library access conditions at: http://www.wienerlibrary.co.uk/usinglibrary/usingthelibrary.aspx

Acquisition Information

Donated by E Wittenberg.

Note

NB129

Related Material

See also: WL Doc 1519 - Gunter Wittenberg: copy personal papers, (1940s-1950s); Unpublished Memoir 4185 - My Seven Years' War - account by his wife, Eva Wittenberg, of her life as a refugee.