Ilse Majer-Williams: family papers

Scope and Content

This collection contains the family papers of Ilse Majer-Williams, a former Jewish refugee from Vienna who escaped the Holocaust by being sent on a Kindertransport to wealthy sponsors in the UK in 1939. Included are Ilse Majer-Williams' personal account and her biography; correspondence with family and friends; list of Ilse's belongings taken to the UK; papers documenting her parents' efforts to emigrate such as tax returns, insurance papers, tax and police clearance certificates, correspondence with the American Embassy in Vienna (1781/1); Ilse's passports and UK naturalisation certificate; and papers relating to her parents' estate and her claim for war compensation. Also included are photographs, recipes, press cuttings, video and audio recordings of a reunion in Jerusalem in 1994. In addition, there is a copy of a report by the University of Vienna entitled 'Jewish clients in the Vienna Postsparkassenamt - Nazi loot 1938-1945' (1998). This is now in the books catalogue.

Administrative / Biographical History

Ilse Pauline Majer (1928-2003) was born in Vienna, the only child of a wealthy Jewish banker, Berthold Majer (born 1883 in Lutonina, Czechoslovakia) and his wife Lilly, née Werber (born 1899 in Bielitz, Poland), who got married in 1926. After the "Anschluss" Ilse was no longer able to attend her school. In July 1939 Ilse was sent to an aunt, her father's sister Sidi in Czechoslovakia, hoping to avoid Nazi persecutions. After the invasion of Czechoslovakia she had to return to Vienna. Her mother Lilli managed to find sponsors for her in England. Lady Howard-Stepney and her daughter and son-in-law, Mr and Mrs Welch, offered to take care of her. Ilse was sent on a Kindertransport from Vienna to England in 1938. She started at Hampden House boarding school, Buckinghamshire, the following year. Between 1942 and 1944 she went to a Quaker school in Sidcot, Somerset.

Ilse stayed in touch with some family members, particularly her mother's sister, Hertha, who had escaped to Israel with her husband. Despite numerous efforts to obtain an exit visa to the United States, Ilse's parents did not manage to emigrate. In June 1942 they were deported to the transit concentration camp Izbica in Poland. They were later transferred to an extermination camp where they perished.

Ilse trained at a domestic science college and later as a secretary. In 1948 she got married to Owen Meredith Williams (1918-2008). They moved to Chedworth in 1955 where Ilse had her own secretarial college in Cirencester.


Chronological and by subject

Access Information

Acquisition Information

Donated by Midwinters Solicitors



Related Material

See photo server for video and audio recordings (Doc 1781)