Simonson and Schreiber families: family histories

Scope and Content

This collection contains autobiographical accounts of Alfred Simms and the family histories of the Simonson and Schreiber families and their ancestors. They were Jewish families from Berlin and Leipzig, most of whom were murdered in concentration camps in the Holocaust. Alfred Simms was amongst the few refugee survivors who emigrated to the UK. His sister and parents perished. Also included are the funeral address and biography of Hans Schreiber, Alfred Simms uncle, who did not return from a temporary visit to Switzerland in 1938 and survived by getting married to Swiss national in 1942.

Administrative / Biographical History

Siegfried Simonson (1880-c1944) grew up in a bourgeois family in Berlin. He was educated at home by a governess. At the age of ten he went to the College Royal Francais. He spent two years in London for his training in banking. He travelled widely, collected antiquities and participated in various sports. He joined his father's bank as a partner in 1910. He and his brother Felix were the owners of the bank when his father died in 1913. He served in the army in the First World War. In 1919 he got married to Ilse Schreiber (1890-c1944) from Leipzig. The couple enjoyed the cultural activities Berlin had to offer in the 1920s. They went on holidays abroad and Siegfried continued to accumulate new pieces for his large collection of antiquities. They had two children: Alfred (born in 1921) and Marie Amalie ('Mara') (1923-c1943). The children were brought up by an English speaking nanny.

Despite the economic difficulties in the Weimar Republic the bank continued doing business. However, with the rise of the Nazis the business declined. The bank closed down in 1937. The family could soon not afford their servants and large apartment any longer. Alfred Simonson emigrated to England in March 1939. His sister also had a permit to travel to England but she did not want to leave her mother behind. She attempted to flee to Switzerland in 1942 but was caught and deported to a concentration camp in Poland. Siegfried was forced to work in a factory during the war. In 1942 both Siegfried and Ilse were transported to Theresienstadt concentration camp. Many of their friends and relatives were there at the same time. They were taken to Auschwitz concentration camp in October 1944 where they were gassed soon after arrival.

Conditions Governing Access

Acquisition Information

Donated by Alfred G Simms