Bergmann family: internment letters and memoirs

Scope and Content

This collection contains letters sent by Jewish refugee Dr Walter Manfred ('Fred') Bergmann, a medical surgeon, to his wife Ruth Bergmann, first from an internment camp in Huyton, Liverpool and then, after transfer of the camp, from Douglas on the Isle of Man (1687/1-41). (See also transcripts and translations of letters 1687/14-41 (1687/2).) There is only one letter written by Ruth Bergmann to her husband. She and her children found refuge in a hostel in Cheshire with the help of the Quakers. The letters document the family's efforts to obtain Fred's release and his life at the internment camps. Also included are the memoirs of their daughter Renée (1687/3) writing about the lives of their parents before the Second World War, the house arrest at the Jewish hospital in Leipzig in 1938/1939, the family's escape from Germany, their time as refugees in England, and new beginnings in the East End of London after the war.

Administrative / Biographical History

Ruth was born in Leipzig, Germany, in 1905. She initially worked as a shop assistant in a department store but after she met 'Fred' (Walter Bergmann) in 1926, she became a medical laboratory assistant but was made redundant and returned to the department store where she worked until she married Fred in 1933. Ruth and Fred had two children, Renée and Tommy. Fred was born in 1907 and studied medicine at Vienna and Freiburg University.

After the November Pogroms in 1938 he operated as a surgeon under house arrest in the Jewish hospital (Israelisches Krankenhaus) in Leipzig up to the end of August 1939. Since Fred's theatre sister had fled and there was a shortage of staff, Ruth became the new assistant. In September 1939, two days before the outbreak of the war, the family emigrated to England. Ruth and her children lived in a hostel with other female refugees in Cheshire whilst Fred was held at Huyten and Douglas internment camps until 1941. Upon release Fred was offered a position in Emergency Medical Services in Macclesfield.

Ruth's parents perished at Auschwitz concentration camp during the war. From 1947 Fred worked at a general practitioner in a surgery in Leytonstone and the family moved to Wanstead.



Conditions Governing Access

See Wiener Library access conditions at:

Acquisition Information

Donated by Renée Tyack.



Alternative Form Available

Includes transcrips and translations for the majority of letters.

Related Material

See also Tyack, Renée, They Called Her Cassandra: a Story of Survival, Brighton 2008