The exhibits now on display in the Reading Room come from the extensive postal history collection of William Kaszynski (1936-2019).
Kaszynski and his family fled Nazi Germany in 1939 after his father’s release from Sachsenhausen concentration camp and settled in the UK. During the Second World War, they were detained as enemy aliens in internment camps near Liverpool and on the Isle of Man. After their release they were naturalised as British citizens and lived in north London.
William Kaczynski was an avid collector of postal items connected to the Holocaust. His book Fleeing from the Führer: A Postal History of Refugees from the Nazis documents communications to and from concentration and internment camps across the world. This special exhibition shows highlights from his collection.
Items on display include: An envelope sent by an inmate of Auschwitz to a relative in Königshütte in Saxony, Germany in July 1942. The envelope carries the stamp of the Auschwitz camp censor and the rules for postal communications with inmates. A leaflet from August 1940 sets out the rules for using the forwarding services of Thomas Cook & Son Ltd. via Post Box 506 in neutral Portugal.
The British authorities regularly published updates about the restrictions on postal communications with enemy countries and countries under Nazi occupation. Examples of letters to German-Jewish refugees detained in the internment camps for enemy aliens on the Isle of Man. The envelopes were labelled as ‘internee post’ which meant their postage was free. Letters from the correspondence of Hans Beermann illustrate the structures and routines at Onchan Internment Camp on the Isle of Man. A letter from Izak Edelman from the DP camp Hallein (Beit Israel) near Salzburg, Austria to Morris Weinberg in New York. He wrote in Yiddish and noted this on the envelope.
The Wiener Holocaust Library is grateful to the David Lewis Charitable Trust for their support and permanent loan of the William Kaczynski Collection.