Kurt Strauss: family papers

Scope and Content

This collection contains the family papers of the Jewish family of Victor and Marianne Strauss and their sons Helmut and Kurt. The family emigrated from Germany in 1939 to excape Nazi persecution. Included are correspondence and papers relating to Helmut's school education in England and internment in the UK and Australia and Kurt's education in England after emigration (1697/1; Victor and Marianne's correspondence re emigration (1697/2); Victor's employment and business papers (1697/3) war compensation claims (1697/4), inheritance, the sale of a property in Stuttgart as well as financial and business papers (1697/5). Also included is a video interview with Kurt Strauss, recorded as part of a project entitled 'Four decades of refugees in Northern England, 1919-1959' carried out by the University of Leeds in April 2011.

Administrative / Biographical History

Victor Strauss, born on 5 July 1894 and Marianne Strauss (née Melzer), born on 16 November 1899, both lived and got married in Prague. They had two sons: Helmut, born on 28 January 1923 in Cannstatt and Kurt, born on 11 July 1930 in Stuttgart. The family was living in Stuttgart in the 1930s.

With the passing of new racial legislation Kurt and Helmut had to leave their schools. Whilst Kurt was transferred to a Jewish school in Stuttgart, Helmut was sent to Great Britain in 1937. Helmut first went to Dunnmow Hall in Lancashire and in 1938 to a Quaker-run boarding school in Sidcup, Somerset. He was the first refugee at the school. In 1939, aged 16, he left the school to move to Bournemouth where he worked as laboratory assistant at Technical College and continued his studies at Municipal College. Helmut Strauss was interned as an enemy alien between 1940 and 1942, later also in Australia. He worked as a chemist in St Albans from 1942 to 1943, and with Bayer Products from 1944 to 1946. He graduated from Birkbeck College in 1946 but died later that year from insulin shock.

In 1938, Kurt and his mother Marianne emigrated to Czechoslovakia. Victor stayed behind to look after his mother. He was later held at a concentration camp in Germany (Dachau?) for a short period of time before emigrating to England in 1939. Marianne and Kurt followed him in May 1939. Marianne took on a job as domestic assistant. They initially lived at a Quaker hostel for refugees but were later evacuated with other refugee families to Andridge Farm, Radnage, near High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Kurt's education was initially very disrupted due to several moves by the family but from 1941 to 1948 Kurt stayed at Sidcot Boarding School, Winscombe, Somerset.


Chronological and by subject.

Conditions Governing Access

See Wiener Library access conditions at: http://www.wienerlibrary.co.uk/usinglibrary/usingthelibrary.aspx

Acquisition Information

Donated by Kurt Strauss.



Alternative Form Available

Includes transcripts and translations of a selection of Helmut Strauss's letters.

Related Material

See also digital recordings and Photo Archive 2005/30. Further information regarding the recorded interview can be found in the donor file.

Family Names