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Dr. Herbert Edmonds

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
20th April 1939
Interview number:


Jayne Reich

Date of Interview:

Interview Summary:

Dr. Herbert Edmonds (nee Emsheimer) was born in 1930 in Karlsruhe, Germany. His father, Dr. Arthur Emsheimer, a lawyer, lost his position in 1934 due to Nazi sanctions against Jews, and went to work for his father-in-law Julius Vogel, who had a paper factory in Ettlingen.

On and around the time of Kristallnacht the family suffered acts of violence which precipitated the conviction that they must leave Germany. Herbert and his sister Hanna were put on a Kindertransport in Karlsruhe. Herbert remembers passing through Holland but little else of the journey except that they were collected at Liverpool Street Station by their grandmother Johanna Vogel. Her husband had managed to purchase equipment in France, and have it sent to Wales, where he set up a cardboard manufacturing business. Despite his being interned on the Isle of Man for a limited time, Julius Vogel was able to return to run the cardboard factory which eventually manufactured cases for gas masks in aid of the war effort. Herbert’s mother Lottie managed to leave Germany in August 1939 just before the outbreak of war and joined her parents and children in Wales. Herbert’s father travelled to Switzerland, remained there, and obtained a Swiss Doctorate in Law. Herbert and his father were reunited after the war and re-established their relationship.

Herbert’s paternal grandparents, Oskar and Alice Emsheimer, having been based in Pforzheim, Germany were transported to Gurs internment camp in France. Oskar died there. Alice was then transported to Auschwitz, where she was murdered on arrival.

In Wales, the family lived in Mountain Ash and later Aberdare. Herbert seemed to learn English rather effortlessly and after two years, came top of his class. He went on to take a Bachelor of Science degree at Cardiff University and a Doctorate [Biology] at Leeds in 1953. After this he was called up for National Service and served in the Royal Air Force until 1955.

From 1956-1960 Herbert worked for Roche Products. He married Hannah Oppenheimer in 1960 and in that year joined Coutinho, Caro & Co., a steel trading company of which his father-in-law was a founder member. Herbert retired in 2000, having been Deputy Group Chairman of the company. Herbert and Hannah have four children and eleven grandchildren.

Key words:   Karlsruhe, Ettlingen, Pforzheim, Kristallnacht, Kindertransport, Isle of Man, Wales, Gurs camp, Auschwitz, Cardiff University, Leeds University, Royal Air Force, Roche Products, Coutinho, Caro & Co.


Full Interview


I- I also remember that my, on- on that Kristallnacht, I think the day after, my mother was dragged through Ettlingen on a cart, on the back of a cart, drawn through the village with, with the- there- with other Jewish- Jewish people. There weren't many, but maybe three or four in this cart, just being dragged through the cart. And when they reached me, some neighbours who were friendly just said “What a,”- in German, they must have said, “What a terrible shame.” I do remember- that’s all- that- I think that's the limit of my memories.

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