Sophie Friedländer: personal papers and interviews

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection contains the personal papers of Sophie Friedländer, who was a teacher at the Jewish boarding school in Caputh, near Potsdam and later emigrated to the UK as a German Jewish refugee. It includes personal correspondence, photographs, papers and press cuttings relating to the former Jewish school in Caputh; correspondence with German broadcasting companies regarding the production of a TV documentary on Kindertransporte and the former school in Caputh 'Als ob man nur ein bischen wegfährt' (1990); draft autobiography of Hilde Jarecki and correspondence regarding a joint autobiography ('Sofie & Hilde: Life together in friendship and in work') and Hilde's book on playgroups in London; Hans Christian Andersens' fairy tale book which she received for her performance at school in 1913; and obituaries. Also included are taped recordings of interviews and TV documentaries.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sophie Friedländer (1905-2006) was the only daughter of five children of a Jewish family of teachers in Hamburg. When she was one year old the family moved to Berlin. She studied at the University of Berlin and did her teacher training at her father's school, the Karl Marx Schule in Neuköln, a progressive reform education school. She qualified as a teacher in 1933. As she was not allowed to teach at state schools for being Jewish she started working at the Jewish 'Kinder- und Landschulheim' in Caputh near Potsdam in the same year. The county boarding school was originally founded as a children's holiday home by Gertrude Feiertag and had developed into a school for Jewish and non-Aryan children excluded from state schools. One of her colleagues was Hilde Jarecki, then working as a housemother who was going to become a lifelong friend. Sophie taught primary and secondary classes and gave English lessons to her colleagues in the evenings. (The school was raided during the November pogroms in 1938. The children of the home managed to escape. After the Second World War it was used as a children's home in the former GDR and re-opened as youth centre 'Anne Frank' in 1998.) Sophie Friedländer transferred to Wilznacher Jewish secondary school in the Moabit district of Berlin in 1937.

She emigrated as a refugee to the UK in September 1938. Sophie initially stayed with relatives and later moved to Liverpool to work in the household of the Palmer family. Sophie's parents were killed in the Holocaust but her brothers managed to emigrate to Palestine. Sophie offered her services to the Kindertransporte and became second in command at the reception camp at Dovercourt Bay, near Harwich.

In 1942, a member of the Birmingham Jewish Refugee Committee recommended Sophie and Hilde Jarecki to run a hostel for 14- to 18-year-old refugee girls. The hostel was run like a family home and skills such as housework, cooking, gardening, arts and crafts were taught. This work was continued at a hostel for five to 16-year-olds in Reading between 1943 and 1955. When the hostel closed Sophie started teaching English as a foreign language to adults and worked at Orange Hill girls' grammar school in London from 1956 to 1970.

In her retirement she stayed active and developed her painting and sculpture and studied Hebrew. She also wrote her memoirs 'Am meisten habe ich von meinen Schülern gelernt: Erinnerungen einer Jüdischen Lehrerin in Berlin und im Exil' ('Memories of a Jewish teacher in Berlin and Exile') and her autobiography 'Sophie und Hilde: Ein Zwillingsbuch' ('Sophie and Hilde: A twinbook'). She gave interviews for German TV and radio, wrote articles on her educational experiences and translated her friend Hilde Jerecki's book 'Playgroup' into English. She stayed in touch with many of the people she had taught in Nazi Germany.

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 Peter Lewinson

Note

2007/3

Related Material

Contains video and audio recordings 2007/3