• March 1947. Reconciliation between former enemies - British and Germans, Jews and Aryans

    There was a dramatic reaction in Britain to Victor Gollancz's 1947 book, 'Germany Revisited', that showed – in graphic photographic detail – the conditions faced by starving Germans in British-occupied Germany shortly after the end of WW2.

    One German officer at the Prisoner of War camp at Featherstone Park ordered twelve copies of the book to be delivered to him. The spokesman for the prisoners, and the camp librarian, both asked the British interpreter, Herbert Sulzbach, to confiscate the books on the grounds that 'they lower morale and lower the affection for Britain.' Sulzbach was mildly amused at their request – and refused it.

    'What a change!', he noted.

    'Naturally, I did not withdraw the books. What all this shows is how free this country is. It shows freedom of expression - and that a Jew is their strongest protagonist.'

    A few days later, when he went into his office, he was amazed to be told that a certain Major Otto Schulz – a prisoner at the camp – had been asking whether he (Sulzbach) had ever been the director of a fancy paper factory at Neubabelsberg, near Berlin. Major Schulz had been a prisoner at Featherstone Park for eight weeks before asking this question – anxious that if he did so he might be suspected of looking for favours.

    It transpired that Schulz was the husband of Sulzbach's previous secretary at his factory in the 1930s.

    'Do you remember how much you liked this brave typist?' he asked his wife.

    Her husband was able to show Sulzbach copies of letters that showed how she had helped Jews in Breslau, where they had been married.

    'She fled in time before the Russians, and now lives in Coburg in the American sector. I wrote to her straight away and allowed him to attach an extra letter.'

    A few days later, at Westgate Methodist church in Haltwhistle, there was a joint service of music on Palm Sunday, 30 March 1947, between the Evangelical Congregation of Featherstone Park Camp and the congregation of Westgate Methodist church.

    (photo: programme for the service at Haltwhistle)


Photo crop (passport)

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On my blog I write about biography, Anglo-German reconciliation, and the life of Herbert Sulzbach.


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