Israel, Wilfred (1899-1943): papers (microfilm)

Scope and Content

Copies of original essays, memoranda and private papers, 1936-1943, covering such subjects as the Weimar Republic, the rise of National Socialism, German Communist and Socialist parties and trade unions, and the Jewish refugee problem. Also a fairly comprehensive collection of the 'Political Group Papers' (1941-1943) from the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Committee on Reconstruction.

Administrative / Biographical History

Wilfrid Israel, born in London in 1899 to an English Jewess and a German Jew, enjoyed a very privileged existence growing up in Berlin, where he inherited the family business, the famous N. Israel department store, with its 2000 employees. Whilst conforming to family expectations, he entertained interests in socialist Zionism, pacifism and internationalism. During the war years he became a secret intermediary, the confidant of such major figures as Chaim Weizmann and Albert Einstein, as well as hundreds of others, for whom he was able to arrange escapes, on account of his dual nationality and familiarity with Gestapo extortion techniques. On a return flight from Portugal in 1943, where he was effecting the rescue of more Jewish refugees, he died when his plane was shot down by German fighter aircraft.



Conditions Governing Access


Acquisition Information

Israel family

Other Finding Aids

Description exists to this archive on the Wiener Library's online catalogue

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements


Archivist's Note

Entry compiled by Howard Falksohn.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Custodial History

The papers in this collection relate to Wilfred Israel's activities as a confidential adviser on Jewish affairs at the Chatham House war-time research unit in Oxford.

Location of Originals

Wiener Collection, Tel Aviv University, Israel


Shepherd, Naomi, Wilfred Israel: German Jewry's Secret Ambassador , (Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1984).

Personal Names