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Yvonne Alweiss

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
31 August 1939
Interview number:


Dr Bea Lewkowicz

Date of Interview:

Interview Summary:

Yvonne Alweiss, born Inge Yvonne Goldschmidt, in 1933 in Kassel. Her father’s grand-parents lived in Hoof, a village in Hessen. Yvonne’ grandfather, Jacob Goldschmidt, had come to Kassel and opened a clothing business. Her mother’s parents lived in Bonn. Her father Ludwig Goldschmidt worked as a lawyer with his older brother David in Kassel. David Golschmidt also ran ‘Repetitorkurse’, classes for which helped student lawyers to prepare for their exams. One of the students was Roland Freisler, who became a virulent Nazi and the State Secretary of the Reich Ministry of Justice (1934-1942).

Yvonne’s father was arrested on Kristallnacht (together with 300 other Jewish men) and sent to Buchenwald concentration camp. After his release he helped Jews to emigrate from Germany (together with the Rabbi in Kassel, Robert Raphael Geis). The family lived in Spohrstrasse 2 and shortly before emigration in Kirchweg 72.  Yvonne’s parents tried to emigrate to Chile or the UK. Through the help of the rabbi in Kassel a British guarantor was found, Mr Benediktus, the owner of the sport shop Lillywhites.

Yvonne left Germany on the 31stof August 1939. She first stayed with her parents but was then sent to a boarding school in Leighton Buzzard. Once this became a protected area, she was moved to Lady Margaret Boarding school. In 1941 she came back to live with her parents and then spent a summer in the Stoatley Rough Boarding school, a progressive school run by refugee teachers. When she came back to London she went to the Covent school on East End Road in Finchley.  Yvonne recalls that she was considered ‘a difficult child’, as she was very fearful, and that she used to see a Mrs Stein from Bloomsbury House for weekly meetings.

Her father found it difficult to find work in the UK and went back to Germany in 1948, where he became a renowned judge, first in Kassel and then in Frankfurt. After staying with a Quaker family for a number of months, Yvonne joined her parents in 1949 and finished her schooling in Kassel. She eventually returned to the UK in the mid-fifties, where she met her future husband Manfred Alweiss, who had come to the UK on a Kindertransport from Berlin. After some years they relocated to Germany, as Manfred was offered a job opportunity. They raised two daughters in Munich and Hamburg and after Manfred’s retirement came back to settle in London.

Key words: Hoof, Kassel, Jewish lawyers in Germany, Ludwig Goldschmidt, Stoatley Rough school, re-emigration, post-war life in Germany.


Full Interview


And then then we emigrated. I remember leaving the flat. It had a huge heap of clothes and belongings, knick-knacks lying in the middle of the floor. And I saw a hairband which I so much wanted, I took the hairband with me to London. I wore- used to wear it here. And then we travelled, or we said goodbye first of all in Kassel. It was- it was a dreadful, miserable day, with- it’s all grey. Tante Minna was at the station, as was some other friend of hers. And it was- we said goodbye and we would never see them again. And we went to Mönchengladbach by train. And we had some- my father had a bit of money to spare. We were only allowed to take out the equivalent of ten pounds, I think it is. And there was a shop there, which did not have a sign saying ‘Juden unerwünscht’ – Juden- Jews unwanted. And he went in there and bought a wristwatch, which he never wore, because he hated wristwatches. And whilst he was doing that, we- my mother and I went into a phone box. And I was to look out to see that nobody observed us. And- and while I was looking out, she phoned her mother and father in Bonn and said goodbye, and wept. And I'd never seen my mother cry before and I was very upset and also cried.
I was always on the wrong side of the fence. Always. And have ever- have been all my life. That's just the way it is. I desperately wanted to be English when I was at the school, and I would have liked to have stayed in England, but it didn't happen. And gradually I got used to being in Germany but I never identified with that either. I mean, I like- I like the countryside. I like the woods and fields. And I like the Kaffee und Kuchen. But as far as anything else was concerned, I never really felt that- I never felt at home anywhere. And the only place I really felt at home was at home, in the four walls of my parents’ house.

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