Senta Hirtz: personal papers

Scope and Content

This collection contains the personal papers of Senta Hirtz, Medau technique teacher and physiotherapist, who emigrated to London as a refugee in 1936. She was involved in the work of the Jewish Relief Unit and supported displaced people in Germany after the Second World War.

The papers include school and professional training certificates; papers relating to her work as a physiotherapist; report on her Jewish Relief Unit work at the welfare centre near the former concentration camp Bergen-Belsen, Lower Saxony, in 1945 (1705/1/9) describing the conditions at the hospital, search office and activities of the social club; unpublished memoirs; extracts from diaries, poetry and personal notes; travel journals of holidays in Greece and the USA in the 1970s; report on a trip to her former home in Germany in 1992 (1705/1); and personal correspondence with family and friends (1705/2). Also included are passports and identity cards of her and her mother Martha Hirtz (1705/5-6), drawings and poetry by her brother Herbert Hirtz (1705/7), and three photo albums (see photo archive).

Administrative / Biographical History

Senta Ruth Augusta Hirtz was born in London on 12 March 1908, where her German father worked as a chemist. In 1910 the family returned to Germany and moved several times due to her father's work commitments. When she left school she initially trained as a nursery nurse. Between 1930-1933 she retrained as a teacher in the Medau technique at the Medau School of Eurythmics and Gymnastics in Berlin.

Being part-Jewish, Senta Hirtz emigrated to London as a refugee to avoid Nazi persecutions in 1936. She taught Medau to women and children across North London but as the war approached it became increasingly difficult to obtain such work. In the Iate 1930s she was accepted at St Thomas's Hospital to retrain as a physiotherapist.

At the end of the Second World War she applied to work for the Jewish Relief Unit. She was sent to Germany and worked in one of the first relief teams in the former concentration camp Bergen-Belsen, Lower Saxony. During that time she was also reunited with her mother.

She returned to the UK in 1946 and continued to live in London for the rest of her life. Her mother moved to England to live with her in 1957. Senta Hirtz became a registered physiotherapist and specialised in the treatment of children with cerebral palsy and other special needs. She retired from physiotherapy in 1977 having been appointed at Greenwich District Hospital to work with older people in the early 1970s. In her later years she continued the study of different world religions. She also painted in the anthroposophical style of Rudolf Steiner. Senta Hirtz passed away in 1998.


Chronological and by subject

Access Information

See Wiener Library access conditions at:

Acquisition Information

Donated by Helen Bourne.


2005/46 and 2006/39

Related Material

See also Photo Archive 2005/46; and WL1407/11 and WL1232/3 Jewish Relief Unit papers.