German-Jewish history and identity: exploring the Ehrenberg-Elton Papers at The Keep

24 September 2018

by Anika Wagner

Alles Erleben ist eine Episode. Auch Hitler war eine Episode. Daß er nur eine Episode bleibt, liegt an Euch.’

‘Every experience is an episode. Even Hitler was an episode. That he remains just an episode is up to you.’

Eva Ehrenberg, Sehnsucht – mein geliebtes Kind, p67

I’m a Librarian Master’s student from Berlin/Leipzig, Germany and, earlier this year, I joined The Keep for a nearly nine-week internship. This is not my first time abroad; during my apprenticeship as Library Assistant and my Bachelor study I’ve already been in London, Baltimore and Vienna to work in different libraries. So the procedure in preparation for this internship was nothing new to me. In November 2017, I started to write to lots of different libraries in the UK, asking for the possibility to intern with them. Luckily, I got a positive reply from the University of Sussex Special Collections at The Keep. After this, I applied for financial support from ERASMUS+ and my University’s Friends’ association (both of which I got, hooray), booked my accommodation and finally the flight as well.

Still, it was exciting: a new house, a new city, a new workplace and new colleagues. Everyone was really welcoming and tried their best to make me feel comfortable! During the first few days, I was introduced to all the staff here (unfortunately I’m not good at remembering names), had a tour of the building and got familiar with the collection I was going to work with over the next few weeks.

Rewrapping the archive material to ensure it is protected

Rewrapping the archive material to ensure it is protected

My work here focused on the Ehrenberg-Elton Papers. I checked the collection box by box, folder by folder. In six weeks, I got through the first 33 boxes, which contain a lot of different materials, from letters, photographs, passports and medals to newspaper cuttings and even hair. With each folder, I compared the catalogue entry with the real material. Was everything in the folder? Was the number of pages identical? Did the description match? Sometimes I had to give the material a new title to make it more meaningful. Last but not least, I tried to fit the material into a new, revised classification. Some objects needed new packaging, so I got new folders for them or wrapped them in tissue paper and made a label with their reference number and title on it. It felt a bit like wrapping Christmas presents.

While doing this, I had the chance to read the odd letter or literary manuscript. This was really fascinating and I had to watch out to not just read all day long. With every folder and box, I got deeper into the Ehrenberg family. When I reached the boxes with the family’s photo albums and loose photographs, I already knew so much about the people, what their past had been and what become of them in the future. It’s saddening when you read next to a portrait the simple caption ‘Hans im Konzentrationslager’ (Hans in concentration camp), although you already know he survived. I got most emotional about the photos of Eva Ehrenberg in her later years, as she reminded me of my grandmother.

My attempt to get an overview of the Ehrenberg family and their relatives

My attempt to get an overview of the Ehrenberg family and their relatives

I was told me on one of my first days that I may need to write a family tree while working on that collection. First this advice puzzled me a bit, but soon I did so. In the end I had at least five family trees interweaving different strands of the Ehrenberg family.

The Ehrenbergs, especially Eva, were in contact with so many different people that I easily got lost. Even if it turned out that they were related, I still had to work out which side (Eva or Victor) they belonged to. Luckily there is already material about that in the collection itself. One of my most exciting objects in this collection was a book about an old German legend (I had never heard of before) which was dedicated by the late Kaiser Wilhelm II to Eva Ehrenberg’s father Siegfried Sommer.

In my last two weeks, I did some research in preparation for a collaboration with the Leo Baeck Institute in New York. They also hold material by and about the Ehrenberg family, which they have already digitised. I checked their digital archive to see if what they hold is also in the Ehrenberg/Elton Papers collection at The Keep, so it can be later linked into the catalogue.

As The Keep is a partnership of different institutions, I was  introduced to their staff, their work and their different kinds of materials. I also had the opportunity to join a lot of sessions and events of different kinds. These included a workshop called ‘Refugees in Times of Crisis, 1938-2018’, which reminded me that history sometimes repeats itself, and the 12 May Day Diary, with fun activities like badge-making. I didn’t know that so much could be done for outreach in an archive. Most of the sessions were for students to show them what an archive is and the kinds of materials are held here. It was really impressive to see how enthusiastically the colleagues spoke about their work and collections!

Having fun at the 12 May Day Diary event at The Keep

Having fun at the 12 May Day Diary event at The Keep

I’m really sad that my time in Brighton and The Keep ended so quickly. I would have liked to spend more time here and finish my work on the Ehrenberg-Elton Papers. Whilst working here I learnt a lot: about archives in general and The Keep’s collections in particular, about British life, emigration and identity, and about German-Jewish history. Of course, in school we often talked about this dark episode in German history but my own country’s history became more graspable to me, working with all these authentic and personal materials. Especially at a time when right-wing populists are regaining power in so many countries, it is important to know the history and prevent repeating it.

I would recommend to anyone who is interested in the work of archives to join The Keep for an internship or work experience. It was my most enjoyable internship, and I’ve done eight so far!




Meet the Volunteers: Diana Hansen, Secretary and Trustee of the Friends of The Keep Archives (FoTKA)

1 June 2018

‘Volunteering at The Keep is completely different from what I normally do. It’s intellectually challenging, absorbing, personally rewarding – and very worthwhile as well.’

‘I completed a History degree at Sussex University in the 1960s and went on to work for the Civil Service in the Treasury and then the Ministry of Defence. After retirement, we came back to Brighton and I decided to do an MA in History. This included a course on palaeography taught by Christopher Whittick, now County Archivist at East Sussex Record Office (ESRO), which is based at The Keep. Naturally I became interested in archives, and Christopher, well, he’s a very persuasive man! Before long I became one of his volunteers at ESRO in Lewes. I’m currently working on the archives of the Ashburnham Estate. I especially enjoyed cataloguing sketchbooks of a Grand Tour to Italy, Greece and the Middle East, with fine portraits of exotic warriors and elders enjoying a shisha. Before that, I worked on letters from Louisa, a daughter of the Elphinstone family of Ore Place, and her quarrelsome husband Robert, finding out much about the family in the process – how their fortunes went up and down and how they ended up living cheaply in Europe like many poverty-stricken aristocrats of the time. It was entertaining stuff!

‘I joined the Friends of East Sussex Record Office as a trustee ten years ago. Now my roles at FoTKA have changed slightly. I’m Secretary and Trustee – it sounds onerous but it isn’t. I inherited from the late Pam Combes the editorship of the six-monthly newsletter, which is something I can do from home, while being a Trustee involves attending four meetings a year, ensuring agendas are relevant and that minutes are written up.

‘Friends of The Keep pay a moderate membership fee and this goes towards financing new acquisitions for the archive – they might be postcards, documents, letters, maps – costing anything from £10 to £1,000. Recently, the unique collection of lantern slides detailing the construction of Beachy Head lighthouse between 1900 and 1902 was purchased with funding from the Friends, together with contributions from other grant-giving bodies and residents of Eastbourne – it was a good example of a community working together. If you’re interested in East Sussex and its historic buildings, becoming a Friend brings excellent benefits. We organise privileged visits to houses and places of interest which are often not open to the general public, accompanied by speakers with unrivalled knowledge of the area.

‘Much of my volunteering is done in the autumn and winter; I try to come to The Keep every other week for a morning or so. I also love sailing so I’m usually doing that for six weeks in the summer – my FoTKA colleagues have been known to panic when I haven’t answered an email for several days! When I was at the Treasury and MOD, I loved working with the army and meeting all sorts of different people and this happens here, too. Friends of The Keep come from many different backgrounds but we all share a love of the history and buildings of East Sussex. I hope more people join us!’

Interview by Lindsey Tydeman

For more information about the Friends of The Keep Archives, including details of how to join, please visit the FoTKA website.

Cataloguing Social Services records – putting archive principles into practice

2 May 2018

By Rosemary Lynch

I completed my master’s degree in archives and records management at the University of Liverpool in September 2017. Before that, I had gained experience in the sector by volunteering at The Keep on a variety of small cataloguing projects. I also volunteered as an archives assistant at the Brighton College Archive and in a records management project at the National Maritime Museum. I was delighted to be able to come back to work at The Keep last October for a six-month project arranging and listing a complex collection of modern East Sussex County Council records. The files had been selected for permanent preservation in the archives between 1977 and 2004 but never fully catalogued. Some had been listed over the years, but the 1,500-box-strong collection had never been tackled in a comprehensive fashion.

Christopher and Margaret Whittick sorting County Council files at The Maltings in Lewes, c1985

Christopher and Margaret Whittick sorting County Council files at The Maltings in Lewes, c1985

Some urgency had been lent to the project by concerns about various ongoing national inquiries and investigations which require the use of Social Services records. We needed to make such material accessible to the relevant parties through sorting, identification and cataloguing.

My first task was to work my way through various existing lists and spreadsheets to identify which boxes might contain Social Services material. I also found some clues in the notes of previous managers and archivists, which were written on the physical boxes in the repository. I then began systematically listing the Social Services records, adding the title, covering dates and a brief description to the catalogue. In the end, I catalogued records from 238 boxes, totalling around 1,800 files. The mass of files covered a wide variety of topics, but I was able to make sense of the information by following the archival principle of provenance, always referring back to the individual or organisation which created the items. I traced reference numbers and old handwritten lists to understand the complex and varied administrative history of the Social Services Department and its seemingly endless restructurings and reorganisations, so that I could pinpoint from which person or department the files had originated and categorise them accordingly.

Some of the social services publications that have now been catalogued

Some of the social services publications that have now been catalogued (R/S 123)

Once listed, some documents that were in particularly damaged file folders were packaged in acid-free cardboard, and the collection was packed into 285 new archives boxes, filling almost a whole row of shelves in the repository.

As was expected, many of the files related to children’s homes, residential and day care establishments, mental health and adoption. The majority of these which mentioned individual clients will remain under data protection rules: their most important function at the moment will be to aid the County Council with investigations and subject access requests from the individuals themselves.

The files also contained a great deal of material relating to the social history of Brighton and East Sussex. The Social Services Department interacted with several voluntary organisations across this period, including the Brighton Rights Centre, Women’s Aid Brighton, Age Concern, playgroups, housing trusts, and helped to organise summer and community projects in Brunswick, Hangleton and Portslade. There are also files on the production of Access Guides for disabled people across East Sussex, which was part of a larger initiative to coincide with the International Year of the Disabled in 1981 (see R/S 114/6/55-56 and R/S 104/2/17-25).

One of the more unusual and interesting series in the collection was the files of ESCATA (the East Sussex Consultancy and Training Agency). ESCATA began as an extension of the Media Unit of the Social Services Department, producing low-budget training videos and resources for internal use. It was incorporated as a private company in 1986 but lost £250,000 in only a few years. The operation was scaled back, the company was reabsorbed back into the County Council, and the Director of Social Services was forced to resign. The ESCATA files were transferred to the East Sussex Record Office at a later point.

Adopting a Kirkian attitude to management training, R/S 58/2/14

Adopting a Kirkian attitude to management training (R/S 58/2/14)

There were evidently some keen sci-fi fans in the company in the 1980s; one Star Trek-themed management development video was titled ‘Managing Into The Future: a space opera in five parts.’ Sadly, the video itself has not survived, but the production files can be found at R/S 58/5/12 and R/S 58/5/15. Another video set on a space station, which aimed to teach staff about ‘Unique Selling Propositions’ and change management is at R/S 58/6/18.

The project has been successful in making the records of the Social Services Department more accessible to members of staff and the public. The rest of the County Council boxes have also been categorised by the department from which they originated. This will make approaching any future cataloguing easier.

I have enjoyed the opportunity to work on my own substantial project at The Keep. It has allowed me to employ principles which I studied on my archives course and apply them in a practical setting, including data protection rules, provenance and project management, and has increased my confidence in my knowledge and skills as an archives professional. My next role will be in records management, giving me a wider view of the sector as a whole and an opportunity to expand my skills even further.






The Desmond Clarke Collection

11 January 2018

By Karen Watson

We were fortunate enough to have three boxes of correspondence, poems and literary documents given to the University of Sussex Special Collections by Desmond Clarke. Desmond worked in book marketing and was the sales and marketing director at Faber & Faber during the 1980s. This meant he was in charge of promoting the famous Faber poetry list under Poetry Editor Craig Raine that included Wendy Cope, Douglas Dunn and Seamus Heaney. All these names are included in the collection in various forms.

Typescript for Rain Charm for the Duchy by Ted Hughes, with handwritten note by the poet; SxMs184/1/2/8

Typescript for Rain Charm for the Duchy by Ted Hughes, with handwritten note by the poet; SxMs184/1/2/8

Desmond was also the director of the Book Marketing Council and in 1983 came up with the idea of the Best of Young British Novelists campaign. Desmond was able to persuade several bookshops, including all the branches of WH Smith and several hundred libraries, to stock and display the mostly unknown novelists’ books. The idea was cemented by the now iconic group photograph taken by Lord Snowdon. Granta magazine published a special issue that year of the authors’ work and has taken the idea forward each year. The collection has some press and publicity about this event.

There are a large number of Wendy Cope poems; some handwritten, some labelled first draft. Several have been published in Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis and others in Men and their Boring Arguments. There were outbursts of laughter reading through the poems in the office and a lot of reading aloud to colleagues during the cataloguing of this collection.

The documents by Ted Hughes include the poem ‘Rain Charm for the Duchy’, given to Desmond to get published when Hughes was first made Poet Laureate in December 1984.  The second line of the title is ‘A blessing Devout Drench for the Christening of Prince Harry’. With the recent Royal wedding announcement, the documents have renewed significance. Ted Hughes wrote words for a  song for the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson in 1985  and this, including musical score by Howard Blake, is part of the collection.

The Honeybee and the Thistle, a song written for the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, with words by Ted Hughes and music by Howard Blake; SxMs184/1/2/4

The Honeybee and the Thistle, a song written for the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, with words by Ted Hughes and music by Howard Blake; SxMs184/1/2/4

The collection is unusual as it contains very little written by Desmond himself. It is named after him as the donor and collector of the documents, some of which were created especially for him. The Desmond Clarke poem by Wendy Cope is a good example of this. There are cards and correspondence written to Desmond from many authors, including Vikram Seth. His relationship with poet Craig Raine is represented through some correspondence and poems; they went on to further work together on the literary journal Areté, where Desmond was a member of the advisory board.

Desmond was a hugely charismatic, warm and intelligent gentleman who I was privileged to meet when the papers were given to us. I wanted to capture some of his stories about the collection so Desmond agreed to a short interview in March 2017, and this is now part of the collection. I felt it important to capture some of the person who was so skilled in making other people and their literary creations shine.

The collection fits well with our other Special Collections; Ted Hughes and Wendy Cope are stored alongside other literary greats Virginia Woolf, Rudyard Kipling, Charles Madge and Langston Hughes, representing a large and varied collection of writers and poets, their work and lives


Meet the staff: Karen Watson, University of Sussex archivist

18 November 2017

University of Sussex Special Collections are pretty exciting, and I feel lucky to be their first archivist. They are a wonderful primary resource for anyone studying history, sociology, English or American studies and it’s part of my job to share their possibilities with tutors and their students. People have heard of the well-known collections, such as Mass Observation, which is so important it has its own team of archivists, and the Virginia and Leonard Woolf archives. But these high profile collections are only the tip of the iceberg. We also hold over 80 archival, manuscript and rare book collections, mainly focusing on 20th and 21st-century social, political and literary history.

‘The rare books are particularly beautiful; each of these collections is a history in itself, telling the story of the collector and what led him or her to the books they chose – perhaps the subject matter, author or their beautiful bindings. All these are unique primary sources a ten-minute walk away from the main university buildings!

‘I hold a degree in American Studies and qualified as an archivist in 2010 but I’ve only recently got a professional archivist job. It’s good to be using my qualification in this role as there are always cataloguing tasks. However, the majority of my time is spent teaching and talking; teaching undergraduate and MA students how to access and use the Special Collections, and talking to lecturers and researchers about the resource. It’s a drip, drip, drip approach…!

Karen at work with a group of students at The Keep

Karen at work with a group of students at The Keep

‘We’re trying to expand the knowledge and use of the Special Collections all the time as there are so many disciplines where they could be used. Recently, for example, I ran a photography seminar for art history students using Special Collections and the archives of the Brighton and Hove Camera Club, which is an East Sussex Record Office collection. This really shows the benefits of being at The Keep. At these introductory sessions, we show the short video we made recently about the store itself, and all the shelving and boxes behind the scenes. This helps to demystify the whole process of engaging with primary sources, as well as helping to familiarise people with The Keep building itself. I love showing people around and seeing their eyes widen when I open the door to the first storeroom.

‘Today, I’ve got a Library Assistant from the University of Malta shadowing me, joining me in a tutors’ meeting and then a staff meeting. She’s finding out how we run the Special Collections and also how our staffing structure fits into that of the University Library as a whole. As the Keep building isn’t on campus, it’s important for Special Collections staff to be represented at library events and in library groups. Today I’ve been in contact with with a former Vice-Chancellor who is going to contribute to one of our largest and most interesting collections, the institutional archive of the University of Sussex itself. Actually, former Sussex students regularly offer us their personal academic collections and we are very pleased to accept them if they complement the research needs of the University or its development as an institution.

‘I like people. That’s the attraction of the job – and sometimes one of its challenges! It’s so rewarding to be able to give visitors access to our collections and I sometimes forget just how unique our archives are. I’ve seen an individual become quite emotional on first reading the hand-written diaries and reports about life during the Second World War from the Mass Observation Archive, for example, or the original letters of Virginia Woolf. Researchers don’t usually engage on such an emotional level with their work, but one can’t fail to be moved by documents that are of such an immediate and personal nature.

‘But I also love reading about the University in the 1960s and 70s, and its development as a new institution. Perhaps not surprisingly, staff members were concerned by the issues which preoccupy them today, namely the provision and cost of food in the staff canteen. And I had to smile when I saw the 1971 invitation to the University’s Open Day. It stated that there would be a rail replacement bus service from Brighton to Falmer. That’s continuity!’

Interview by Lindsey Tydeman



Meet the Volunteers: Julia Wacker, volunteer for the German Jewish Collections

4 October 2017

‘The world is not in your books and maps. It’s out there’, Gandalf (Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings)

‘I wanted to get out of my daily routine, even if it was just for two months. I’m doing a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Besides my studies, I work as a student assistant at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. My weekdays include a three-hour commute between my hometown and Berlin.

Julia at work in the conservation studio

Julia at work in the conservation studio

The Erasmus programme gave me the opportunity to do the required internship for my Master’s programme in another country. As I wanted to polish my spoken English, Great Britain was my first choice. I contacted many institutions all over the country and The Keep responded with interest. As my native language is German, the German Jewish Collections held by the University of Sussex were a perfect fit. After organising the flights, lots of paper work, a small language test and finding accommodation, I was able to start my little adventure.

My first day at The Keep was 31 July. Everyone here is welcoming and very friendly, and speaking English all day turned out not to be that difficult. I was amazed when I realized how many different types of materials are held here: maps, photos, newspapers, prints – and many more. Considering all the different projects people are working on, I also found it surprising how well staff get on with one another.

I was shown around the whole building, which includes the reading room, the repository for all the stunning archival material, the digitisation suite and a lot more. I got to see the University of Sussex campus, including the library, where I worked for a week. I joined a number of workshops, helped at The Keep’s Open Day and attended a conference, Digitising the Past: Revealing Jewish History, at the London Metropolitan Archives . I also got an insight into some of the other collections, such as the Mass Observation Archive and, for a special treat, learned how to bind my own book in the conservation studio.

Regina Mallachow's diary, SxMs 170/3/2/8, which was transcribed by Julia

Regina Mallachow’s diary, SxMs 170/3/2/8, which was transcribed by Julia

The family collections of the German Jewish Collections include really personal mementoes, like watches and Poesiealben (friendship books). During my time at The Keep, I worked continuously on various things. I transcribed a German diary written by an 18-year old girl in 1884 from old German script into modern script, which was sometimes quite difficult because of the handwriting. I enjoyed that very much, because it contained a lot of gossip about a ‘Mr Springer’ and I wanted to know if they became a couple in the end – they didn’t, because ‘Mr Springer’ paid no attention to her. I also processed many digital images of archives so that they can be made accessible to The Keep’s users. Further, I boxed and described books about Rudyard Kipling, and repackaged and listed a new donation for the German Jewish Collections.

All in all, it really was the right decision to leave my shell and to go for an internship abroad. The Keep is full of lovely staff, fascinating materials and many mysterious stories about people from another time that are there to be explored. I will also really miss the gorgeous tea.

Meet the Volunteers: Jan Boyes, ESRO cataloguing volunteer

3 June 2017

‘You often find with volunteering that one thing leads to another…’

‘It’s wonderful to have an archive, but not so wonderful if people can’t find anything in it! I hope that’s where I come in.

‘I’ve always been interested in history and all the “old stuff” that goes with it, so became a Friend of the East Sussex Record Office (ESRO) several years ago. This was when the Office was based at The Maltings in Lewes. Volunteers were needed to create a computerised index for the thousands of wills which were kept in the archive. At the time, anyone wanting to find a will had to hunt through the indexes in large dusty books before they could find and order the one they wanted.

‘Going along to The Maltings on Tuesday evenings and inputting the information from the indexes onto an Excel spreadsheet became a regular routine and something I enjoyed very much. There were usually four or five of us, some working on different projects, and we became quite a tightly-knit group. It seemed natural to continue as a volunteer once ESRO moved to The Keep and since then I’ve had a variety of work, all of it interesting.

‘At one time I was cataloguing a collection of records of Piddinghoe, the tiny East Sussex village which lies on the river Adur between Newhaven and Lewes. That was quite sad as it had been the lifetime’s collection of a fellow ESRO volunteer and personal friend Valerie Mellor, who had died suddenly. She left the archive to ESRO and two archivists travelled to her home to pick it up; there were documents, postcards and images plotting the history of the whole village. It’s a really wonderful resource, and now available to visitors to The Keep.

‘More recently I’ve been using spreadsheets again, this time archiving the records of Humberts, an estate agent in Lewes. This is a twentieth-century collection of thousands of local sales particulars and correspondence relating to property purchases. I’m putting the basic information onto an online spreadsheet so an individual can search by date or by property name or address. It’s a straightforward process but still quite absorbing.

‘I quite often come to The Keep on a Monday, when it’s closed to the public. This is the only time when the map table in the Reading Room has nothing on it, so it’s the ideal opportunity for myself and senior archivist Anna Manthorpe to unroll and examine some extremely large maps recently received from Hastings Museum. Anna inputs a description onto the spreadsheet while I read out the references, re-roll and tag. It’s not quite as exciting as you might think. The maps are mid-twentieth century and show proposed locations for public amenities – gentlemen’s toilets for example – but they are important to keep as they show council landholdings as well as sites of water, gas and sewage pipes. Once it has been listed, each map is given a tag and number, re-rolled and stored in the repository in a bespoke linen map bag.

‘You often find with volunteering that one thing leads to another and you get the thrill of discovery. Working on the East Sussex wills was particularly good for this. I came across a man called Fox whom the will register described as a “comedian”. I thought that was quite unusual for 1790 so I investigated further and found that Fox and his wife and children were actors, and had run pubs and theatres in Brighton and London. His daughter Elizabeth was the mistress, first, of the Earl of Egremont, by whom she had four children, and then the Prince Regent, by whom she had one. She sounds like a remarkable person and I hope to find out more about her.

‘The main purpose of all this volunteering, as far as I see it, has been to make the archives not only available, but easy to search – and find. It’s a weekly commitment that brings many rewards and constantly changing interest. The archivists themselves appreciate you, too!’

Jan’s article on the Fox family can be found on the Friends of The Keep Archives website, in the Spring 2012 edition of FESRO News.





Open wide! A peek into the German Jewish collections

11 October 2016

By Samira Teuteberg

Mallachow practising dentristy, SxMs 170/3/2

Mallachow practising dentristy, SxMs 170/3/2

The German Jewish collections of the University of Sussex at The Keep can be full of surprises. When cataloguing one of these collections, I came across a small number of letters from Louis Mallachow, dentist in Bromberg (now Bydgoszcz in Poland) to his daughter Regina and his son-in-law, Siegfried Kroner. In the top left-hand corner of one of the letters, I found a very small image attached showing a dentist practising on a patient.

Although the picture is tiny and had the top-right and bottom-left corners removed, the scene is very clear. The patient’s face is not visible, but we can make out the chair he is sitting in and we can see some of the instruments Mallachow is using. The dentist himself is obviously proud of his work and, while we know he was an amateur photographer himself, we can only speculate on who took this image.

Letter from Louis Mallachow to his daughter and son-in-law, SxMs 170/3/2

Letter from Louis Mallachow to his daughter and son-in-law, SxMs 170/3/2

The letter the image is attached to is dated 31 July 1891 and was sent the same year, after the birth of Louis Mallachow’s granddaughter Eveline, who later brought it to the UK when she fled from Nazi rule in 1934.

Further correspondence reveals that Mallachow was very enthusiastic about photography and tried to pass this on to his son-in-law, who might not have been quite as excited. This extract from a letter of 30 December 1892 from Louis Mallachow to Siegfried Kroner states:

[…] ‘Was nun die Photographie betrifft, so muss ich mich über dein Kopfzerbrechen sehr wundern. Dazu gehörst du für schwere 20 Mark dem grossen Berliner Photographen Verein an?

Dazu unterhalte ich seit 2 Jahren mit dir einen lebhaften Briefwechsel über Photographie??

Dazu schickte ich dir selbstgefertigte Photographien u. machte dich auf meine Fehler aufmerksam???

Dazu habe ich dir für 25 Mark einen vorzüglichen Apparat kaufen u. dich unterrichten lassen ????’ […]

[…] ‘When it comes to photography I am very surprised about your queries. Given that you belong, for a hefty 20 Marks, to the great Berlin Photography Club?

Given that I have had two years of lively correspondence with you about photography??

Given that I sent you self-made photographs and showed you my errors???

Given that I have bought you an excellent camera for 25 Marks and paid for your course????’ […]

He continues to explain the best ways of lighting when taking pictures of people indoors and what can and can’t be done.

‘Ferner weiss u. muss jeder Laie wissen, dass wenn jemand – hier Frl. N. – dem einfallenden Licht vis-a-vis im Operationsstuhl sitzt, dessen schwach blaue Augen nicht noch schärfer sein können, wenn dem Photographen jede retouche darin verboten worden ist.’

‘Furthermore every amateur must know that if someone – in this case Miss N. – sits opposite the incoming light in the operating chair, her eyes will not come out any sharper if the photographer is not allowed to retouch the photo.’

Unfortunately, the image of Miss N[eumann] (who was Dr Mallachow’s housekeeper) in the operating chair does not survive, and neither do any of his other photographs. Nevertheless, the diaries, photographs and correspondence from the Mallachow family give a rich insight into the domestic life of a Jewish family in Germany before the Holocaust. If you would like to find out more about the collection, you can access the catalogue of the SxMs170 Gerda Sainer Collection and browse the hierarchy.


Restitution cases in the Ilse Eton Papers

2 September 2016

By Samira Teuteberg

Thanks to the work of the Centre for German-Jewish Studies at the University of Sussex, Special Collections holds a number of collections of family papers donated by people who came to the UK as refugees in the 1930s and 1940s. Recently, the University has been able to secure project funding to catalogue and digitise these archives to make them more accessible and to invite researchers and educators to use them. Having worked on the German Jewish collections previously, I started by cataloguing the Ilse Eton Papers, which contain the paperwork of a number of restitution cases (claims for compensation by victims of Nazi persecution). I always assumed that restitution cases were mostly about formalities and legal jargon, but these were far more interesting and insightful than I had expected.

Photograph of Leo Einhorn, from his restitution papers

One story that stood out for me was that of Leo Einhorn, the successful owner of a furrier business (Pelzmoden Einhorn) in Berlin. His son, Bruce Eton (formerly Bruno Einhorn), had arrived in the UK before the outbreak of war and joined the British Army. At the end of the war in 1945, he was stationed in Berlin, where he found his father Leo, who had been living in hiding throughout the war. In 1946, Bruce was demobilised and returned to the UK, and his father Leo followed to London a few months later, where he eventually settled.

After the war, some restitution claims were dealt with by the Allied Forces, before West Germany instated the first Bundesentschädigungsgesetz (restitution legislation) in 1953, which evolved until its final version in 1965. Once the law had come into existence, Leo Einhorn made his claims and his son helped him with the correspondence. As a result, the paperwork in the collection consists mostly of correspondence between Leo and the United Restitution Office (URO) in London, which advised him and represented his case in the German courts.

Leo’s letters show how difficult and frustrating it was for the victims of persecution to bring evidence for their losses at a time when the legislation remained in a state of flux:

 ‘Als ich wie ein gehetztes Tier mich in Deutschland umhertrieb, habe ich [mich] nur damit befasst mein naktes Leben zu retten, und nicht eine Aktentasche mit Dokumenten mit mir herumzutragen.’

‘When I was roaming Germany like a hunted animal I focused on saving my life, not on carrying a briefcase full of documents with me.’ [1]

In this restitution case paperwork, we also get a glimpse of Leo’s life during the war. For him, as for many others, living in hiding meant finding people who would let him to stay in their homes at night or let him sleep in shops or warehouses. During the day, he had to be out in the streets – all day and every day. Occasionally he was picked up by police, but he was able to always come up with a good story. During this insecure time, when he depended on the kindness of others, he suffered a hernia through severe malnutrition, had ulcers and was in a very bad state of health. When in 1963 he claimed for damages to his health resulting from a life in hiding, he had difficulty proving to the authorities that this had been a direct result of persecution and his life in hiding.

‘Die Röntgenuntersuchungen des Dr G. F[] macht es ganz klar, dass die Narben von frueheren Geschwueren vorhanden sind. Da Herrn Einhorn waehrend der Verfolgungszeit der Luxus von Roentgenuntersuchung und aerztlicher Beratung nicht zur Verfuegung stand, sind diese Geschwuere erst spaeter entdeckt worden. Jeder Arzt weiss, das Zwoelffingerdarmgeschwuere durch Sorgen und Aerger verursacht weren, denen Herr Einhorn, wie sie wissen waehrend der Nazi-Zeit in grossem Masse ausgesezte war, da er ja die ganzen Kriegsjahre in Berlin verbrachte.’

‘The X-ray examinations by Dr G. F[] clearly showed scarring from previous ulcers. Since, during the time of persecution, Mr Einhorn did not have the luxury of X-ray examinations or medical advice, these ulcers could only be discovered much later. Every medical practitioner knows that a duodenal ulcer is usually caused by worries and concerns, which Mr Einhorn, as you know, had plenty of during the Nazi time, considering he lived in Berlin throughout the war.’ [2]

One day in April 1944, Leo Einhorn was picked up by the police in Berlin. When questioned, he pretended to be non-Jewish and gave his name as Heinz Schulz, who had lost his paperwork due to the bombings. He was questioned as to why he was not with the Wehrmacht and they examined his suitability for the army – but he was rejected from any kind of service on medical grounds. In 1944, Leo Einhorn saw that the army drafted every male they could possibly find, including amputees, children and the elderly. Therefore, in 1963, this rejection document was to him clear evidence of his terrible state of health, but legal advisors at the URO in London considered a reliance on this medical record totally absurd.

Correspondence relating to Leo Einhorn’s restitution claims, including an Ausmusterungsbescheid or rejection statement, SxMS169/4/5


Having been intrigued by Leo’s story, I looked up the address of his Pelzmoden business, which he gave as Friedrichstrasse 46, at the junction with Zimmerstrasse. If I had been more familiar with Berlin, I would have known straight away that this is the place where, later, the famous Checkpoint Charlie stood between East and West Germany. As I am now moving on to catalogue the next German Jewish collection, I hope someone else will find out more about Leo Einhorn’s story.

If you would like to see the originals of his restitution case, search The Keep’s catalogue for the Ilse Eton Papers SxMs169 and Browse the Hierarchy.


[1] SxMs169/4/3 letter Leo Einhorn to Dr J Goldstein United Restitution Office (URO) London, 3 December 1954.

[2] SxMs169/4/5 letter Bruce Eton to the URO not to accept a previous ruling on Leo Einhorn’s claim for damages to his health, Hastings, 19 January 1962.



Where the wild things are – Drusillas comes to The Keep

16th July 2016

By Anna Manthorpe

Many will have fond memories of visiting or taking small children to Drusillas Zoo Park, and we were delighted to receive the archive of the Ann family which established this well-known local attraction.

The story is very interesting. The founder, Douglas Ann saw active service in the Royal Sussex Regiment during the First World War, and in 1920 he and his wife Drusilla started Old Thatch Pedigree Poultry Farm in Hellingly. Douglas solved any labour shortages by taking in paying lady students to learn how to run a small holding. Career opportunities for women were few, and the First World War had meant that there were many single and widowed women for whom marriage would be impossible.

Douglas soon decided to move on, and in 1924 purchased the site which became Drusilla’s Tea Cottage in Berwick(although only up the road from Alfriston). One would imagine an idyllic rural setting, but the farm-buildings and land purchased from the Gage Estate for £1000 had been used as bone mills for the preparation of fertilizer; he showed great vision.

The 1920s saw an expansion in use of the motor car, and Drusilla’s opened to meet the demands of the discerning motorist venturing into the countryside and hoping to find the better sort of establishment at which to take afternoon tea. Drusilla’s Tea Cottage opened in 1925 and from the beginning stocked a ‘Baby Zoo’ with monkeys and small animals as an added attraction. Chauffeurs could be given their own refreshment in a separate room at a small additional cost.

The winning formula of offering pupil vacancies to the daughters of ‘gentlepeople’ was continued at Drusilla’s. Pupils were trained in baking, waiting and general management at a charge of 2 guineas a week to cover tuition and board residence. They received a half share in staff gratuities after the first four weeks, and were ‘usually’ offered a weekly salary after three months if they wished to stay for the remainder of the season.

The business expanded apace. There was soon a craft shop which sold Dicker Pottery, river boating with canoes and punts for hire, a children’s boating lake, putting course, playground, cinema shows and evening dances with egg and bacon suppers. In 1935 a narrow-gauge railway was opened which ran under a 60 foot brick-faced tunnel to a landing-stage on the River Cuckmere.

Douglas’s entrepreneurial spirit seemed unlimited. Hired canoes were sometimes abandoned downstream, and his answer was to open another landing-stage near the mouth of the Cuckmere at Exceat. In 1932 the Chyngton Estate in Seaford came up for sale, and he purchased Exceat Bridge Cottage and a piece of land next to the river on the opposite side of the road, where he sited the new landing-stage. In 1934 he applied for building consent for a new tea room and alterations to Exceat Bridge Cottage, which became the well-known local landmark, The Golden Galleon (now the Cuckmere Inn). Business had to be suspended during the Second World War, and The Golden Galleon was sold in 1947.

Douglas died in 1958, and his work was continued by his son Michael, later joined by his younger brother Christopher. Michael took the decision to expand Drusillas as a zoo for young children with the emphasis on smaller animals, in which it has been extremely successful. Early and later chapters in the business’s history are well-represented in the archive, up to the time that the Ann family sold it in 1997. Cataloguing it has been a fascinating exercise.