Life in the Hostel


gulliemots  Dear parents,
We arrived at Harwich in the morning. The rabbi and some Jewish people were at the train station. We are happy now. The people here are very nice. They have set everything up for us very well. … London is a really fabulous city. Double-decker buses, double-decker trams, cars, masses of taxicabs, and many large office blocks.

Fritz Penas (Fred Marchand) 19.01.1939 *


gulliemots  … Dear parents, dear relatives, dear grandpa, Now for my daily routine: get up at half past 6, gymnastics until 7 o’clock, washing, prayers until a quarter past 8, then breakfast, break until half past nine and then school. That is, we go to the synagogue where there are some classrooms. We learn Hebrew with Dr Seligsohn and English with a young gentleman, W. Cohen. So school until half past twelve, then we go back home for lunch at one o’clock, break until half past one. From 2 to 4 pm we go back to school, then break, that is prayers and play-time, half past six supper time, then polish our shoes, play and then off to bed. As you can see, we have lots to do. …

Fritz Penas (Fred Marchand) 25.01.1939 **


gulliemots  … After a few weeks, off we went to school. The school building was not far from the hostel and we could easily get there on foot. Of course we marched there two by two in typical German fashion. We somehow had the feeling that we needed to stick together now, and quite soon after we moved to England, there was a fight between the English and the Germans. The school was a simple English primary school. We often played chess in class. But we’d finished with learning; the Jawne dream was over.

Ernest Kolman (Ernst Kohlmann) 1990 ***


The community of Minster Road with Rudolf and Gerda Seligsohn as hostel parents did not last very long: Some days before the outbreak of the Second World War, the Jawne hostel was disbanded. The boys were distributed to host families outside of London in the course of the evacuations of civilians and went separate ways afterwards.
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* Letter from Fritz Penas (later Fred Marchand) from London to his parents in Cologne, 19 January 1939. Credit: Courtesy of family Marchand.
** Letter from Fritz Penas from London to his parents in Cologne, 25 January 1939. Credit: Courtesy of family Marchand.
*** Ernest Kolman about the first weeks in London, in: Corbach, Dieter Corbach, Die Jawne zu Köln. Zur Geschichte des ersten jüdischen Gymnasiums im Rheinland und zum Gedächtnis an Erich Klibansky, 1900-1942, Köln 1990, p. 187.

Fritz Penas, Julius Weil, Ernst Kohlmann and Hand Walter (from left to right) in front of the hostel Minster Road 1. Photo Credit: Ernest Kolman.

Photo above: The boys of 1 Minster Road on excursion with their carer Dr. Seligsohn, 1939.
Photo credit: Courtesy of family Marchand.