Freddie Knoller: personal papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection contains the personal papers of Freddie Knoller, an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor from Vienna. His parents, David and Marja Knoller, insisted that he and his two brothers, Erich and Otto, emigrated to avoid increasing anti-Semitism and Nazi persecutions after the annexation of Austria. Freddie's parents were murdered at Auschwitz concentration camp whilst his two brothers survived in England and the United States respectively.

Included are letters (with translations) from Freddie Knoller's parents, mainly addressed to his brother Erich, giving an insight into their fear for their future and worries about their children. Also included are some photocopies of papers regarding David Knoller's employment and assets, the emigration of the children and the deportation of David and Marja Knoller; papers, correspondence and press cuttings relating to research and arrangements for the publication of Freddie Knoller's autobiography 'Desperate journey'; arrangements for his talks and lectures; details of forced labour during the Nazi regime as well as his application for compensation to the Claims Conference Programme for Former Slave and Forced Labourers and other litigation claims. In addition, there are letters from readers of Freddie Knoller's memoirs and from school children attending his talks.

Administrative / Biographical History

Freddie Knoller was born into a middle-class Jewish family in Vienna in 1921. His parents David (1882-1944) and Marja Knoller (1885-1944) had three sons: Otto, Erich and Freddie. His father worked as an accountant. The brothers were very musical and performed on stage and at various charity functions. From early childhood, Freddie and his family was subjected to anti-Semitism. After the annexation of Austria these attacks increased. Following the November pogroms Frieddie's parents insisted that their children should emigrate. Freddie was the first to leave, going illegally to Belgium. His brother Erich left for Florida, having been supplied with an affidavit by a family friend. Otto went illegally to Holland and from there to England. David and Marja Knoller stayed behind. They were deported to Theresienstadt in October 1942 and were killed at Auschwitz concentration camp two years later.

When Nazi-Germany invaded Belgium in 1940 Freddie Knoller fled to France. He initially stayed with relatives but later travelled to Paris where he joined the Maquis in May 1943. He was eventually arrested and taken to Drancy concentration camp. In October 1943 he was deported to Auschwitz concentration camp. Being housed at Buna-Monowitz (Auschwitz III) he was forced to work for IG Farben at the Buna Werke. As the Russians approached Auschwitz on 18 January 1945 the camp was evacuated. After a 24 hour walk and a seven-day train journey the prisoners arrived at Dora-Nordhausen concentration camp where Freddie was set to work helping to manufacture V1 and V2 rockets. As the American troops were drawing near he was evacuated to Bergen-Belsen. Many inmates starved to death before the camp was liberated by British troops on 15 April 1945. Freddie was later reunited with his brothers. He moved to the United States in 1947 where he met his future wife Freda. They returned to her hometown London in 1952. The couple set up a successful fashion retail business and had two daughters.

Freddie Knoller spent his later years giving lectures and talks to children at schools and at other events describing his experiences during the Holocaust. As chairman of the Friends of the Holocaust Survivor Centre Committee he successfully led the fundraising activities for the Centre. He published his autobiographical accounts 'Desperate journey: Vienna-Paris-Auschwitz' in 2002 and 'Living with the enemy - my secret life on the run from the Nazis' in 2005.

Arrangement

Chronological and by subject

Conditions Governing Access

Acquisition Information

Donated by Freddie Knoller

Related Material

See also Knoller's memoirs: 'Desperate journey: Vienna, Paris, Auschwitz', 2002 (K4b(1) Kno); and 'Living with the enemy : my secret life on the run from the Nazis', 2005 (K4b(1) A Kno)