Irene White: papers relating to Eli Elkana and the Holocaust in Luckenwalde

Scope and Content

This collection consists of material relating to Eli Elkana (Georg Michelsohn), a Jewish poet and dentist from Dessau (now Saxony Anhalt), who was persecuted by the Nazis as early as 1932/33 for his opposing ideas and writings. He, his wife and his daughter managed to emigrate whilst other family members perished in the Holocaust. Included are Eli Elkana's manuscripts of 'Die Ritter von der weichen Birne' (1952) (1761/2) and 'Die Militär-Parade' (written as part of a letter to his daughter) (1761/1) as well as draft version of 'Eli Elkana - Dr Georg Michelsohn - Versuch einer Biographie' by Werner Grossert (1761/3). Also included are Irene White's (his daughter) post-war papers and correspondence regarding Stephanie Seckelson, a friend from Luckenwalde, and commemorative events relating to the Holocaust.

The collection also contains Detlev Riemer's accompanying reader to an exhibition at St Johanniskirche Luckenwalde 'Jüdische Mitbürger in Luckenwalde' (1988) (1761/7) and typescript of 'Erinnerungen an Luckenwalde' (1991) (1761/8) as well as information leaflets on the resistance movement during the Second World War by Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand.

Administrative / Biographical History

Georg Michelsohn (1876-1968) was a Jewish poet and dentist from Dessau. His literary pseudonym was Eli Elkana. He was a socialist who wrote lyric poems and published them in Dessau and later in Tel Aviv. He got married to Margarete Sittenfeld (1888-1981) in 1912 with whom he had two sons and one daughter, Ilse-Edna (later Irene White, born in 1917). In his works he opposed National Socialism even before the Nazis took over power in Germany and was attacked by party members several times in 1932/33. He emigrated to Palestine in 1933 where he lived until his death in 1968. His wife followed him in the same year.

In 1934, his daughter also fled Nazi persecution and emigrated to Israel. She initially worked on a kibbutz and later trained to become a nurse. In 1938, she moved to England and got a post as a trainee nurse at St Mary's Hospital in London where she was working during the Blitz. Irene got married to Allan White in 1943 with whom she had two children. Allan was a refugee himself whose family perished at Auschwitz concentration camp. Irene's mother moved to London in 1945 where she stayed until her death in 1981. After Allan White's death in 1982 Irene dedicated herself to her work for the Association of Jewish Refugees. She was particularly involved in caring for elderly Jewish survivors.


Chronological and by subject

Conditions Governing Access

See Wiener Library access conditions at:

Acquisition Information

Donated by Irene White



Related Material

See also: Photo Archive 2008/13; Irene White, 'So shall we gather' (S3b Whi): Irene White, 'I came as a stranger' (S3b Whi). The majority of his work was deposited with the National Library of Israel, Jerusalem. Material can also be found at the Leo Baeck Institute and Anhaltische Landesbücherei Dessau.