Israel, Wilfrid (1899-1943): Correspondence

Scope and Content

Papers of Wilfrid Israel, 1937-1943, comprise correspondence from Wilfrid Israel to Diana Hopkinson. The last letter in this collection makes reference to the immanent ill-fated trip to Lisbon, where the Jewish Agency had asked him to assist with refugee work.

Administrative / Biographical History

Wilfrid Israel, born in London in 1899 to an English Jewess and a German Jew, enjoyed a very privileged existence growing up in Berlin, where he inherited the family business, the famous N Israel department store, with its 2000 employees. Whilst conforming to family expectations, he entertained interests in socialist Zionism, pacifism and internationalism.

During the war years he became a secret intermediary, the confidant of such major figures as Chaim Weizmann and Albert Einstein, as well as hundreds of others, for whom he was able to arrange escapes, on account of his dual nationality and familiarity with Gestapo extortion techniques.

On a return flight from Portugal in 1943, where he was effecting the rescue of more Jewish refugees, he died when his plane was shot down by German fighters.


Arranged in chronological order.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Deposited by Diana Hopkinson.

Other Finding Aids

Description exists to this archive on the Wiener Library's online catalogue

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

WL 548

Personal Names

Geographical Names