• leaving Germany in May 1938

    During 1938 the Nazis stepped up their persecution of the Jews in Germany. By April of that year, over 60% of all businesses that Jews had owned before 1933 no longer existed. The Sulzbach family bank was forced to 'Aryanise' and became 'Bankhaus Heinrich Kirchholtes', with the non-Jewish husband of Herbert's cousin as its proprietor.

    At the beginning of the year Herbert Sulzbach wrote a last letter to the friends he had made in France during the First World War, telling them that he was emigrating. They replied with kindness and generosity:

    'Please accept the best wishes of our family for a successful new life.'

    'The news that you have given us distresses us because you are not at fault in these matters and cannot be accused either of dishonesty or lack of foresight. One must never lose hope in life. We hope that the coming year will be better than the one just past.'

    In January, Herbert returned to Berlin from England

    'to put my affairs in order and deal with the Inland Revenue Office. No-one is nice now'.

    In February, he and his wife hosted yet another farewell party, this time for his brother who was emigrating to Sweden. Many friends, such as Oskar Kokoschka and Walter Hasenclever, had already left. Herbert returned briefly to London.

    On 3 May he travelled via Bremerhaven to collect his wife and sister for emigration to England. They held a farewell party and many years later Herbert remembered

    'the officials – the police and the inspector of taxes – who were not only with us but were terribly sad. The policeman, for example, was a member of the Party, with a swastika in his button-hole. He had not only falsified my wife's passport, but insisted on a farewell party in a local pub.'

    On 18 May 1938, Herbert, his wife and sister-in-law said goodbye to Herbert's sister and to his mother-in-law, who were not emigrating. They travelled via Hamburg where they ate at a 'charming grill bar' – surrounded by 'people in elegant uniform'. At Cuxhaven they boarded the 'New York', sailed to Southampton, and arrived in London on 20 May 1938.

    (photo: Herbert Sulzbach in Hamburg on his last day in Germany, 18 May 1938)


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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