Johnson, Peter: Records of The Hyphen Social Club and other papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Papers of Peter Johnson, 1940-1987, comprising records of 'The Hyphen' social club including constitution, management committee minutes and agendas, accounts; lecture texts; newsletters; programmes of events; play scripts and correspondence and papers relating to Hildesheim, Lower Saxony including typescript list of Jews in the area, 1945; de-nazification questionnaire; list of former Nazis and papers regarding the use of German airmen in Britain.

Administrative / Biographical History

Wolfgang Josephs, a German Jew from Berlin, came to Great Britain sometime in the mid 1930s. He was interned as an enemy alien at the outbreak of war and later transported on the 'Dunera' to Hay Internment Camp, Australia. On his return to Great Britain in 1941 he enlisted in the Pioneer Corps, later changing his name to Peter Johnson. He was a military interpreter for the British occupying forces in Germany at Hildesheim, Lower Saxony, May 1945-Oct 1946 where he was involved with the denazification process. Whilst there he also took an interest in the returnees from concentration camps, arranging correspondence between them and their families all over the world. The Wiener Library has a copy of a tape recorded interview with him, the original being produced for the Imperial War Museum, which details his life as an internee in Great Britain and Australia.

'The Hyphen' was founded in 1948 by a group of younger continental Jewish refugees (between the ages of 20 and 35), many of whom were the children of members of the Association of Jewish Refugees, who having settled in Great Britain, found that owing to their similar background and experiences they had interests and problems in common. The group was to have no particular religious or political bias. The intention was to provide cultural, social and welfare activities in a way that would enable them to feel at home in their newly adopted country. The name 'The Hyphen' was chosen because it symbolized the gap between the older generation of refugees who had no intention or desire to integrate into British society, and the ideal of seamless integration which the younger generation aspired to but could not immediately realise.

One of the group's first activities was the setting up of a study and discussion group, which covered topics such as immigration in general, as well as German-Jewish immigration into Britain; German-Jewish history, and British cultural and political topics. Its most popular functions became the social gatherings, dances, and rambles in the Home Counties. 'The Hyphen' never had more than 100 members at any one time but there were between 400 and 500 names on its mailing lists. The activities eventually petered out and the group was wound up in 1968. Compared with other German-Jewish institutions it was rather marginal, but for the members it fulfilled a very important function by giving them a sense of belonging during a difficult period of settling in to a new society.

Arrangement

The papers have been arranged chronologically into the following categories-Records of 'The Hyphen'; material relating to Peter Johnson's time spent in Hildesheim, Lower Saxony, in the immediate postwar years; material relating to Peter Johnson's involvement with the issue of Britain's admission of German airmen for technical training.

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Acquisition Information

Peter Johnson

Other Finding Aids

Description exists to this archive on the Wiener Library's online catalogue www.wienerlibrary.co.uk

Archivist's Note

Entry compiled by Howard Falksohn.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Related Material

Johnson, Peter (1916-): Personal papers (ref: 1329)

Corporate Names

Geographical Names