8: Philately and chemistry
The Schwitters portrait of Klaus Hinrichsen was one of six 2010 special
issue stamps in the IsleofMan. Among the others are paintings by
other internees – Herbert Kaden, Herman Fechenbach, Imre Goth and
an artist known as Bertram.
New Year card, IsleofMan internment camp.
The stamp with a cover value of 132p is a 1940 drawing of a violinist in
Onchan camp, by the Austrian artist Ernst Eisenmayer. I first saw the
drawing at the Sayle Gallery in Douglas
IsleofMan. The ‘internment of
aliens’ – a peculiar and rather hysterical measure taken by the British
government after Dunkirk. He had only been married for four months.
But I suspect he really enjoyed the ironic freedom of that year.
This is my father as an alien. He is alien to Britain and to English
culture. Surrounded by those who are not alien to him, he is
captured in an alien environment. And this image of him as the
central figure is one which is entirely alien to me. His existence
on the edges of my childhood, his refusal to engage with me or to
under German control, so had to continue up the coast. After a short
internment in a school in the Lofoten Islands, which were still in Allied
hands, they took another boat to Tromsö, where along with other
refugees they boarded the Fridtjof Nansen and sailed to Scotland.
After detention in a series of camps he was put on another boat, from
Liverpool to the IsleofMan, where he was interned with other ‘enemy
aliens’ for over a year and a half. Hutchinson Camp, where Schwitters
was held, is on a hill in Douglas, overlooking the sea. (Onchan Camp,
where my father spent
, art, theatre,
writing – to the extent that, as Laharie puts it, the camp was one of
the most brilliant cultural centres in the south-west of France. Reading
this, of course, I thought about my father’s internment in the IsleofMan in 1940, where art flourished in the camps. Indeed Laharie has
edited another volume, subtitled ‘l’art derrière les barbelés’, matching
the book I have from the IsleofMan, Art Behind Barbed Wire. (Lisa
Fittko also recalled women spending hours on their toilette and makeup, when she was in Gurs in May 1940.) Against this, we must recall
to see another cousin. The handwriting is beautiful, and the thoughts
of a young visitor to Europe just over a hundred years ago never less
than fascinating to read. In particular, it seemed important for once to
be somehow in touch with my mother’s family history. For a number
of years it had been my father’s life, in Germany in the 1930s and as a
refugee in England, interned for a year in the IsleofMan, which had
preoccupied me. On my mother’s side, the dramas of persecution and
flight were less immediate, a prehistory to her own life and experience.
. Inscribed by Nina Balaban to Kathleen Cunningham To my
dear friend Cathleen – with love from Nina. 5.Feb.36 New York. With
the printed dedication for Emanuel Balaban. Text in Russian.
Kathleen Cunningham is, of course, Kathleen McEnery, under her married
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German-Jewish refugees from Manchester in internment camp,
IsleofMan, 1940 or 1941
-call yesterday I expect you at 9 o’clock at
the worksoffice on Monday, the 15th instant.
I confirm your salary will be 50.- shillings the week and I shall
pay in addition half the amount for the Health-Insurance and the
F. Heinz Kroch.
The following year, Kroch offered a job to Arthur Wolff, a young chemist
desperate to leave Germany. In this way, my parents met. They married
in February 1940. Three months later, my father was arrested as an
‘enemy alien’, and interned in the IsleofMan for a year, together with