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Jewish migration to London on the eve of war

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posted on 2024-06-05, 20:09 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

The contributor shared the stories of her paternal and maternal families, which intersect with the marriage of her parents.

Paternal side:
The contributor's grandmother, Eva Weigert (maiden name), was born in 1885 in Breslau, Germany. Eva grew up in Breslau and met her husband, Julius Bār from Bruchsal, at 19 in Switzerland at the opening of a railway. Julius was 11 years older than Eva.

They set up their home in Bruchsal together and hired a woman called Stephanie Weindil to help them in the house; Stephanie became a lifelong friend. Julius Bār gave as much of the land as possible to Stephanie when he knew the Nazi's would confiscate it.

Stephanie and Eva worked as close friends. Stephanie's husband worked with Julius at a Bank that Julius had started in Bruchsal. The bank gave interest on current accounts.

As a young man, Julius did national service and life was good until at age 57, in 1918, he had to enlist in the cavalry. Eva, the contributor's grandmother, felt that he came home an old man; he had shellshock, which the contributor recognised as PTSD. Julius was given treatment but it didn't work and he stayed in agony for the rest of his life. Julius Bār died in 1938.

Eva Bār kept him alive through memory. The contributor never met Julius, but felt she knew him. At the point of Julius' death, it is likely that Eva had already lost the house. There was a funeral for Julius, however, the contributor was unsure whether Eva could attend because the Gestapo were spying around the area. Eva was likely hiding while watching the funeral, as the contributor recalled that the Rabbi's reading included almost nothing and described Eva's secret attendance as an act of bravery.

The contributor's father, Peter, had left for Nice already, though his work as an Engineer brought him to London. Peter brought the contributor's mother to London as he had established himself somewhat. After living in London from 1935, they married on 3rd February 1936.

Peter was anxious to get Eva out of Germany but, while Julius was dying, Eva refused to leave and only came after his death. She left in 1938. The contributor explained that the letters exchanged between Peter and Eva spoke of their worries at this time. Eva escaped Germany through Switzerland and came to London, where she lived with the contributor's family.

The contributor, then, described Eva's life in Germany, and treatment since the rise of the Weimar Republic in 1918 and control of the Nazis from 1933. Eva had a very nice house in Germany which, at some point, she would have lost, but the contributor was not sure when. Eva and Julius owned a field, which was passed on as well. The contributor recalled that, when Julius was still alive but very frail, Eva and Julius were summoned by the Gestapo. Eva had shared that they made her wait behind a door while she pleaded for her husband's life. Once, Eva was summoned to the Gestapo's office alone. When she arrived, she noticed that somebody had written 'Hitler is a fool' on the wall. The Gestapo accused Eva of writing it, which she denied. They told her to write the phrase down with her pen but she refused, thinking it was a trap. A Gestapo member stamped on her pen and she got away; Eva had described it as the most terrifying moment of her life and described herself as inches away from her joy being taken away.

Eva mourned her husband's death each year with candles. As the contributor became older, she asked a lot of questions and became very close with Eva, who became like a mother to her. The contributor believed that Eva died on 7th February 1971, although she was unsure of the exact date. In 1946, Peter changed the family's last name to Barr to make it more British.

During the war, Peter was stationed in Liverpool. Julius Bār died thinking that his son didn't want to enlist as no one had told him. Peter refused to have German spoken in his house because he wanted his family to assimilate. The contributor was born in 1949. The contributor's sibling was born in 1945.

Maternal side:
The contributor's maternal great-grandfather - Jakob Dannenbaum - was the head of the Prussian Pfandbrief Bank in Berlin. Jakob and his wife had one son by the name of Fritz - the contributor's grandfather. The family was very upper middle class and had lots of staff. They lived in the Tiergarten district in Berlin and had a boat in Weissensee. However, the great depression unravelled this lifestyle. When the depression hit, they lost a lot of grandeur and the contributor's mother was told to learn a profession so that she was always able to make money. Peter and the contributor's mother (Ingrid) were basically arranged in marriage. Peter called it a 'coupe de foudre' but her mother was slightly less sure. However, Peter was persistent and, erratically, they married on the condition that Ingrid would be taken out of Germany.

Fritz and his wife were able to come to England as well around 1937 and had a flat in Twickenham. Ingrid's sister Ruth pretended to be Ingrid's maid to be able to send luggage from Germany. Ruth had hand sewn rings into the shoulder pads of a riding jacket to protect the valuables.
Ingrid's sister Ruth Donnen worked for the German service of the BBC and broadcasted a coded narrative during the war in German. Ruth changed her last name from Dannenbaum to Donnen to make it easier to live in England.

Ingrid was one of three siblings; she had a sister (Ruth) and a brother (Frederich). In 1939, Fredrich was sent to America at the age of 21, and he worried greatly about his family. He was a good linguist and went to Harvard to study Chinese. During the war, he was sent to command Chinese troops as part of the US army. The contributor shared that a lot of letters had been kept from his time in service.

History

Item list and details

None.

Person the story/items relate to

1. Julius and Eva Bār 2. Peter and Ingrid Barr 3. Jakob Dannenbaum 4. Fritz Dannenbaum 5. Frederich Dannenbaum 6. Ruth Donnen

Person who shared the story/items

Vivien Barr

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

1. Contributor's paternal grandparents; 2. Contributor's parents; 3. Contributor's maternal great-grandfather; 4. Contributor's maternal grandfather; 5. Contributors maternal uncle; 6. Contributor's maternal aunt

Type of submission

Shared at the Wiener Holocaust Library, London on 10 November 2023.

Record ID

117945 | WIE007