Eva Mills: family papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection contains the personal papers of Eva Mills and her mother Gertrude Najmann. Eva was sent to England on a Kindertransport in 1938 whilst her parents fled Germany separately aiming to reach Palestine. Eva's father, Jankiel Najmann, managed to get to Haifa in 1944 after spending several months at Ferramonti di Tarsia internment camp in Italy. Her mother, Gertrude Najmann, became a prisoner at Semlin concentration camp in Yugoslavia. She survived and was released in May 1942. Gertrude was unable to leave Yugoslavia until the end of the Second World War when she joined her husband in Haifa.

Included are different versions of Gertrude Najmann's memoirs entitled 'Journey to Palestine' ('Reise nach Palästina'); semi-biographical account of the life, escape and misery of a Yugoslavian Jewish boy during the Nazi regime entitled 'Lost youth' ('Verlorene Jugend') by Gertrude Najmann; correspondence with Jewish writer Otto Zarek regarding the publication of 'Lost youth'; family correspondence; restitution claim paper and exhibition catalogues relating to the work of Eva Mills; recording of an interview with Eva Mills and report regarding a project about Jews in Berlin-Treptow which includes the story of Eva Mills. Also included are photographs; obituaries and press cuttings concerning Otto Zarek (1898-1958); press cuttings regarding Nazi atrocities and a handbill.

Administrative / Biographical History

Gertrude Mills (née Linde) was born in Danzig in 1884. She married Jankiel Najman, a Polish Jew (born in Pultusk in 1894) in 1915. They had one daughter, Eva, who was born in 1924. The family moved into their newly built property in Bohnsdorf near Berlin in 1933. Jankiel was expelled to Warsaw in October 1938 as all Polish people were ordered to leave Germany. Gertrude Mills arranged for their daughter to go to England on a Kindertransport in December 1938. In September 1939, Jankiel who in the meantime had been allowed to return as his wife was unable to run the household on her own due to an injury, was arrested and taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Gertrude was forced to sell her house as Jews were not entitled to own property.

In January 1940, Jankiel Najmann was released and the couple tried to arrange for their emigration to Palestine. Only Jankiel managed to obtain permission to emigrate in May 1940. Gertrude tried to flee to Yugoslavia via Austria in July 1940 but was arrested. She finally made it to Zagreb and from there to the Serbian Jewish reception camp in Kladovo where she waited to be smuggled on board the ships that stopped on their way to Italy. Other refugees grew impatient and a mutiny broke out, which led to the refugees being moved to Sabac. She became a prisoner when the camp was turned into a concentration camp with the occupation of the area by Nazi soldiers in April 1941. In January 1942, she and the other inmates were transferred to Semlin concentration camp. She was able to leave the camp in May 1942. Gertrude went to Belgrad where she eventually found work as domestic servant for a family. She worked without a salary until they moved away because of the bombings on Belgrad. Gertrude remained in Belgrad until the end of the war. In July 1945, she obtained permission to fly to Italy to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration camp at Bari. There she discovered that her husband had stayed at an internment camp in Ferramonti di Tarsia, Italy, until he was able to travel to Haifa in 1944. Gertrude arrived in Haifa in November 1945. The couple appear to have returned to Berlin by the 1950s.

Eva served in the British Auxiliary Territorial Service. After the Second World War she became naturalised and worked as an artist in London. She got married to Henry Mills. Gertrude's mother, Berta Linde (née Gronert) died in 1946 in Berlin.

Arrangement

Chronological and by subject

Conditions Governing Access

Acquisition Information

Donated by Larcomes Solicitors

Note

2010/56

Related Material

See photo archive for photographs. See Photoserver for digital video interview

Family Names