• preparing to leave Germany

    When Hitler's party increased its vote tenfold to win elections in September 1930, Herbert Sulzbach wrote 'catastrophic' in his diary.

    Three years later, Goebbels took over the Chamber of Culture and excluded Jews from working in film, theatre, music, fine arts, literature and journalism. Beate Sulzbach lost her acting work and, together with many other Jews, considered leaving Germany. Her doctor emigrated, as did her sister and family, and several of their friends. Herbert's business seemed safe for the present so they stayed, and hoped that the 'madness' of the Nazi regime would not last.

    Two years further on, in September 1935, the Nuremberg Laws deprived Jews of their German citizenship. Shortly afterwards, Herbert met his old wartime friend, Hans Aldo von Seebach, on the Behrenstrasse in Berlin.

    'You must get out. Go to England when you can,' he urged.

    Sulzbach's business had an English agent, and Britain's strict immigration policy favoured businesses such as textiles with a healthy export market. Sulzbach himself spoke good English and in January 1936 he travelled to London to arrange the establishment of a paper factory.

    He returned to Berlin for the farewell of his brother who was emigrating to Mexico. Over the next few months Sulzbach paid frequent visits to London, and also entertained his agent in Berlin. On 1 July 1936 he applied for an exit visa.

    At the end of December 1936, the Nazis compulsorily purchased Herbert Sulzbach's paper factory in Neubabelsberg. The following May, he emigrated to London with his daughter from his first marriage. Although the new factory was already failing, and was liquidated in September, Sulzbach was allowed to stay.

    As the political pressure on Jews intensified, Herbert returned frequently to Berlin to make arrangements for his wife and her sister to emigrate. Their farewell party was held - at the insistence of a friendly Nazi party member - in a local pub. The policeman, who had earlier helped by falsifying Beate's passport, attended wearing a huge swastika in his buttonhole - and was joined by the inspector of taxes.

    On 20 May 1938, Herbert Sulzbach, his wife and her sister, arrived in London.

    (photo: Sulzbach (back), Beate(rt), and her sister with Sulzbach's English agent, Neubabelsberg 21.08.1936)

    © text Ainslie Hepburn, © photo Yvonne Klemperer


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


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