• Adele Schreiber lectures German PoW

    When Featherstone Park PoW camp closed in May 1948, Wilhelm Mohn, who had been a clerk to Herbert Sulzbach, wrote in a letter to 'The Manchester Guardian' how Sulzbach had

    'arranged for the lecturers who gave us our first contact with the world'.

    These lectures were part of a comprehensive re-education programme and were intended to offer 'enlightenment that will help the prisoners to form their own opinions.' First, the lecturers needed to have a good command of the German language, and secondly they needed to inspire thoughtful discussion.

    In 1944, Adele Schreiber was commissioned by the British government to give lectures to German prisoners of war in English camps. She was then living in London and - like many other lecturers to PoW - she was a German-speaking refugee.

    PoW were often surprised when lecturers did not automatically support government policies, and there were few women lecturers. Adele Schreiber was an Austrian-German women's rights activist, politician and journalist. During the Weimar Republic she had been a Reichstag deputy for the Social Democratic Party. She had been born into a Jewish family in Vienna in 1872 and later moved to live and work in Berlin. In March 1933 she fled to Switzerland and then to England, where she became a member of the Labour Party.

    Adele Schreiber gave two lectures at Featherstone Park - 'Some great women of our days and what we owe to them', and 'Women in History'.

    Although she and Herbert Sulzbach did not share the same political outlook, they became friends and admired and respected each other, and each other's work. When Sulzbach was demobilised from the British army at the end of 1948 he asked for her help in finding employment that used the experience that he had gained working with PoW. She wrote to some influential friends that

    'personalities of intelligence, devotion, unselfishness and idealism are rare, and it seems such a pity if they are just forced to do some kind of routine work instead of becoming a moving force.'

    Adele Schreiber returned to Switzerland after the end of WW2 and lived long enough to be glad of Sulzbach's work at the German Embassy in London. She died in Herrliberg near Zurich in 1957.

    (photo: Herbert Sulzbach and Adele Schreiber 1954)

    © text Ainslie Hepburn © photo Yvonne Klemperer

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