Johnson, Peter: Personal papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Papers of Peter Johnson, 1885-1973, documenting his life until the immediate post-war period. It includes school reports, family correspondence, documents relating to naturalisation, papers relating to his service in military intelligence, and papers relating to the former Jewish population in Hildesheim, where he was stationed at the end of the war.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born 1916, Wolfgang Josephs, a German Jew from Berlin, came to Great Britain sometime in the mid 1930s. He was interned as an enemy alien at the outbreak of war and later transported on the 'Dunera' to Hay Internment Camp, Australia. On his return to Great Britain in 1941 he enlisted in the Pioneer Corps, later changing his name to Peter Johnson. He was a military interpreter for the British occupying forces in Germany at Hildesheim, Lower Saxony, May 1945-Oct 1946 where he was involved with the denazification process. Whilst there he also took an interest in the returnees from concentration camps, arranging correspondence between them and their families all over the world. The Wiener Library has a copy of a tape recorded interview with him, the original being produced for the Imperial War Museum, which details his life as an internee in Great Britain and Australia.

'The Hyphen' was founded in 1948 by a group of younger continental Jewish refugees (between the ages of 20 and 35), many of whom were the children of members of the Association of Jewish Refugees, who having settled in Great Britain, found that owing to their similar background and experiences they had interests and problems in common. The group was to have no particular religious or political bias. The intention was to provide cultural, social and welfare activities in a way that would enable them to feel at home in their newly adopted country. The name 'The Hyphen' was chosen because it symbolized the gap between the older generation of refugees who had no intention or desire to integrate into British society, and the ideal of seamless integration which the younger generation aspired to but could not immediately realise.

One of the group's first activities was the setting up of a study and discussion group, which covered topics such as immigration in general, as well as German-Jewish immigration into Britain; German-Jewish history, and British cultural and political topics. Its most popular functions became the social gatherings, dances, and rambles in the Home Counties. 'The Hyphen' never had more than 100 members at one time but there were between 400 and 500 names on its mailing lists. The activities eventually petered out and the group was wound up in 1968. Compared with other German-Jewish institutions it was rather marginal, but for the members it fulfilled a very important function by giving them a sense of belonging during a difficult period of settling in to a new society.

Arrangement

Chronological by subject matter.

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Acquisition Information

Peter Johnson

Other Finding Aids

Description exists to this archive on the Wiener Library's online catalogue www.wienerlibrary.co.uk.

Archivist's Note

Entry compiled by Howard Falksohn.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies can be made for personal use. Permission must be sought for publication.

Related Material

Johnson, Peter: Records of The Hyphen Social Club and other papers (ref: 1159)

Personal Names

Geographical Names