Herbert Löwit Papers

Scope and Content

The archive consists of a relatively small amount of material (less than half a box) created by German-Czech exile Karl Löwit and his son Herbert Löwit, which includes personal correspondence and research notes and copies of published articles by HL. The majority of the collection consists of the papers accumulated by Josef Schneider, an official of the Internationaler Metallarbeiterverband from the German-Czech borderlands, who came to the UK as a political exile. His papers include correspondence with Josef Ladig, Josef Lenk, Josef Zinner, Wenzel Jaksch, Karl Werner and Fanni Blatny, all of whom had originally been involved in the German-Czech trade union movement and/or the Deutsche Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei in der Tschechoslowakischen Republik (DSAP) prior to going into exile. As well as the correspondence there are memoranda, declarations and resolutions passed by the successor parties to the DSAP (the Treuegemeinschaft and the Auslandsgruppe) and the trade unions in exile. The main subject matter of these papers is the split of the so-called Zinnergruppe from the Treuegemeinschaft Sudetendeutscher Sozialdemokraten in 1940 in the UK and in 1942 in Sweden, and the related issue of the fate of the Sudeten Germans after the Second World War.

Administrative / Biographical History

Herbert Löwit was born in Teplitz (now Teplice) in north-western Bohemia (Czechoslovakia), and spent his formative years in Reichenberg (now Liberec). He was a member of the socialist youth group, the 'Rote Falken' and his family were active members of the Deutsche Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei in der Tschechoslowakischen Republik (DSAP). They were also Jewish. When German troops occupied the Czechoslovakian borderlands in 1938, the family fled to England as political refugees, where they joined the Treuegemeinschaft Sudetendeutscher Sozialdemokraten, the exile social democratic successor organisation of the DSAP founded by Wenzel Jaksch. HL spent 1939 in Brook Lodge refugee camp in Surrey and later completed his education at Kingston Day Commercial school. His father, Karl Löwit, found work in Mirfield, Yorkshire, and the family moved there for the duration of the war, but in 1941 HL joined the Czechoslovak Independent Brigade in 1941 and remained with it until he was de-mobbed in 1945. In May 1945 he played a key role in the surrender of Dunkirk, which had been besieged since August 1944 by the Czech Independent Brigade. HL's fluency in German, Czech and English allowed him to act as the telephone link between the headquarters of the Germans and the Czechs. HL worked briefly in Czechoslovakia after the war but, after marrying another Czech-German refugee, Theresie Schneider, he settled in England. He worked as German teacher in adult education and also for a number of commercial firms run by exiles.

Born on 31 October 1900 in Drahovice, Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but from 1919 part of the Czechoslovakian Republic. Later lived in Chomutov (German: Komotau), where he was a member of the Deutscher Sozialistischer Arbeiterpartei (DSAP) [of Czechoslovakia] and General Secretary of the Internationaler Metallarbeiterverband der CSR (International Metalworkers' Union of the Czechoslovakian Republic) until 1938. After the German annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938 he emigrated to the United Kingdom, where he lived first at Brook Lodge , Albury Heath, Surrey, and in the summer of 1940 he got a job in a glass factory and moved to Mirfield, Yorkshire. He joined the Treugemeinschaft sudetendeutscher Sozialdemokraten (TG) established by DSAP leader Wenzel Jaksch (WJ) in London as a successor organisation to the DSAP. He was a member of and signatory to the founding declaration of the Auslandsgruppe der DSAP of 18 October 1940, which broke away from (TG) in protest at the political direction the TG was being taken in by WJ. Was elected as a member of the Sudetendeutscher Ausschuss, Vertretung der demokratischen Deutschen aus der CSR (Sudeten German Committee, Delegation of the Democratic Germans from the Czechoslovakian Republic) at the Landeskonferenz der deutschen Antifaschisten aus der Tschekoslowakischen Republic in October 1943. Remained in the UK after the Second World War. His daughter, Theresie, married Herbert Löwit. Was living in Woodford Green in Essex in 1977. See the 'Biographisches Handbuch der deutschen Emigration nach 1933', ed. by Herbert A. Strauss and Werner Röder (Munich: K.G. Saur, 1980).


Original order (at least as found by archivist in 2014) was largely preserved. The material in HL 1, HL 2 and HL 3 relates to Herbert Löwit and his father Karl Löwit. This was all previously in Box 1. The material in HL 4, designated as Josef Schneider's papers, was all previously in boxes 6 and 7.

Access Information

Open. At least 48 hours' notice is required for research visits.

Acquisition Information

Following his interview by Dr Anthony Grenville of the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies in 1998, Herbert Löwit agreed to donate his archive to the Institute of Germanic Studies at some future date. The donation was eventually made to the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies in 2009.


This archive forms one of the Exile Studies collections acquired through the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies at the Institute for Modern Languages Research.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued online (click on the "contains" icon below).

A pdf copy is attached to this description.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made subject to an assessment by conservation staff of the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Special Collections Reading Room staff, who will need a minimum of 48 hours to process requests.

Appraisal Information

Some of the material originally in this collection has been moved to the Germanic Studies Library. This includes the pamphlets and offprints originally listed in boxes 2-5.

Some of the material originally in this collection has been identified as photocopies of records held at The National Archives (TNA) and was therefore disposed of. This includes a govenment report entitled 'Transfer of German Population from Poland, Czechoslvakia and Hungary' (HL Box 7), (reference at TNA: FO 371/46810); a memorandum signed by Wenzel Jaksch (FO 471/46814); correspondence from the British Embassy to the Czechoslovak Republic (FO371/47085 and FO 371/47154); a report entitled 'Czechoslovaki' (FO 371/46810); and a letter from the Czechoslovkian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (FO 371/46811). Previously in HL Box 7.

A number of ephemeral items of low evidential or informational value or of have bee disposed of, including a circular letter from 1989 from Verlag Freiburg, advertising a book by Wolfgang Leonhard on the Hitler-Stalin pact (HL Box 1); a file of newspaper cuttings, found in Herbert Löwit's books, dating mostly from the 1960s to the 1990s, of articles on German and Austrian politics, history and culture (HL Box 1); correspondence, invoices and advertisements relating to newspaper and magazine subscriptions and book purchases (HL Box 1); and miscellaneous items found in copies of KL's copies of 'Freundschaft' (transferred to the German Studies Library), including two business cards and newspaper cuttings (HL Box 1).

Custodial History

A small amount (3 files and 3 books) of the material in this archive was created by Karl Löwit and his son Herbert Löwit. The rest probably came into HL's possession from his father-in-law, Josef Schneider.

Related Material

A number of exile-related collections have been deposited with the archive of the Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London. The Ron Heisler collection (MS1186) at Senate House Library contains some newsletters of Czech and German youth groups in exile, c1940s. The archives of a number of political refugees who went into exile in Sweden are deposited at the Labour Movement Archives and Library (ARAB) in Sweden.