Elise Steiner: personal papers and correspondence

Scope and Content

This collection contains the personal papers of Elise Steiner, a former Jewish refugee from Vienna who arrived in England on a Kindertransport in 1938. Her parents and younger brother were murdered at Kowno concentration camp in 1941.

Includes family correspondence (together with typescripts) documenting the day to day activities and aspirations of a Jewish family in Vienna. Reoccurring themes include their gratitude that at least one child was able to escape and continue with her education, efforts to find a place on the Kindertransport for Elise's brother Leo Steiner, news of the fate of other family members who had managed to emigrate to various countries, the takeover of the family business, celebration of Jewish festivals and training for new occupations.

Also included are the personal papers of Elise Steiner such as birth and death certificates, qualifications and references, medical and police clearance certificates, naturalisation certificate, CVs, war compensation claim papers, obituary as well as a copy of the family tree, notes on the Steiner family history and photographs.

Administrative / Biographical History

Elise ('Lisl') Steiner was born in Vienna in 1923. She was the daughter of Johanna (1890-1941, née Neuspiel) and Hermann Steiner (1883-1941) from Moravia, Austro-Hungarian Empire. They got married in 1920. Elise had one brother Leopold (1926-1941). Hermann Steiner served in the Austrian Army during the First World War. Hermann and Johanna worked in the family's stationery shop until it was expropriated by the Nazis in 1938. After the Anschluss of Austria to Nazi Germany, Elise's uncle Rudolf Neuspiel and his family emigrated to the USA. En route they stopped in London where he made enquiries as to how to help the rest of the family to emigrate. He paid the Refugee Committee for one year's schooling and living expenses in advance for his niece Elise. Lisl travelled alone to UK by means of a private arrangement, made by her Uncle Rudolph ‘for her education’. It is thought that she left Austria a few days before the first bulk Kindertransport. After spending a few days with cousins in Golders Green she travelled to the boarding school of Granville College in Southampton. She spent her first Christmas holidays with the Holland family, a host family keen to help Jewish refugee children as Elise's cousins had gone abroad.

Elise’s parents and brother were deported to Kowno concentration camp in 1941 where they all perished shortly after arrival. Many of Elise's closest relatives were killed in the Holocaust.

In 1940, Elise Steiner was employed at a residential nursery for evacuated London children. After the war, she qualified in child development at the University of London and in 1954 was appointed warden of the newly established Children's Centre at the University of Leeds Institute of Education. She worked at the Education Department at Goldsmiths University of London from 1961 to 1984. With her leadership and experience she contributed significantly to the establishment of the distinguished Department of Early Childhood Education in the late 1960s and early 1970s.



Conditions Governing Access

Acquisition Information

Donated by Elise Steiner via Pamela Evans (Executor)



Alternative Form Available

Use photocopies of correspondence in 1146/1-113

Related Material

For photograph see photo archive.