The Biography of an Archive

THE BIOGRAPHY OF AN ARCHIVE  MY father, Friedel Jaffé,  was a refugee from Germany, arriving in London in March 1939. Some years after he died in 1990, I discovered numerous files of his correspondence between 1937 and 1946. Although he told me some details of the desperation of this period of his life, it was nothing in comparison to what I have discovered in this correspondence.  It reveals the bleakness of his life trying to ‘get out’,  believing he had no future, his arrival in London and not being allowed to work, learning a new language, the outbreak of war,  his internment and as a soldier in the Pioneer Corps of the British Army. This archive has taken on its own biography as I make further discoveries and links based on the revelations  within it.

WARTH MILLS   Friedel was interned in dreadful conditions at Warth Mills in Bury, Lancashire.  I am delighted that Richard Shaw has initiated this important project to trace the descendants of those interned there and in so doing tell the stories of the internees. This is an important piece of social  history and still relevant today. See more here

KRISTALLNACHT To mark the 80th anniversary of the dreadful events of Kristallnacht in November 1938, the Wiener Library has included a photograph of Friedel in Berlin and two letters between him and his sister, in their exhibition, SHATTERED: Pogrom, November 1938. This is all further evidence that ‘family’ papers are testament to historical events.

I was pleased to talk about the archive , especially the pieces in it that relate to Kristallnacht,  at the Wiener Library.