Alix Preece: personal account

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection consists of the personal account of Alix Preece, a German Jewish refugee who had been living in France since 1927 and spent most of the duration of the Second World War there. She was interned for several months at Gurs before moving on to Marseilles where she was hoping to get a Brazilian visa to join her family. As her visa extension was refused she eventually managed to go to Portugal and from there to Algiers where she met her future husband. In her eyewitness account she provides a detailed description of the conditions at the camps in Gurs and Pompart, Marseille. Also included is a press cutting relating to her life story.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alix Preece (née Stiel, c1896-1987) was born in Hamburg into a well-to-do Liberal Jewish family. She went to Paris to study in 1927 and decided to stay in France. With the outbreak of the Second World War all residents of German origin were interned. She was taken to Gurs internment camp in May 1940. Shortly before the armistice between the French and German governments, she and other Jewish inmates were released. Alix went to Marseilles to renew her Brazilian visa as her mother and elder brother had already fled to Brazil. Her father had committed suicide before the Second World War. Her other brother had gone to live in Sweden. She was refused a visa and sent to camp Pompart, a private institution of the Marseilles police, whilst her situation was examined. She stayed there for four months. Alix managed to contact the Swedish ambassador who helped her to be released. She then travelled to Portugal and offered her services to the French Army based in Algiers. However, they thought they had hired a man because of her name. When she arrived they left her stranded because they were only looking for men to fight in the forces. She met her future husband, Leslie Preece (died c2002), in Algiers who had been serving in the RAF since 1940. On his return to England he managed to get her a visa to enter the UK. Leslie was not Jewish and from a more humble family background. They got married and settled down in Edgware.

Conditions Governing Access

Acquisition Information

Donated by Helen Lewin

Note

2010/46

Corporate Names