1940

With more and more children arriving, some from B'nai Brith, some from sponsors, the first house in Shorncliffe Road became too small and another larger Edwardian house, Earlscliffe House, was acquired (Photo 14). It lay across the road and had a beautiful garden. It was mainly empty and to save money, the older pupils helped move furniture across the road. Under Ernst Goldschmidt's direction, with much shouting, change of plans, chaos and much fun, this move cannot be forgotten. With the extra space available, Ernst decided to unpack the "Lift " containing the furniture and the Bechstein grand piano, which proved a great asset to the music teaching. Finally, the bed sack containing bedding and Persian carpets was emptied. The silver was unpacked. Ernst Goldschmidt began to feel at home.  [1]  Otto Fendrich wrote (see footnote 238):  "After some months the school took over another house, on a corner on the other side of the road. This provided much extra space; a new dining room among other things. The first people to move into it were five boys, including myself, who were given a large light airy room overlooking the garden. The fact that we were 'on trust', because at night there was virtually no supervision (there was a staff member somewhere in the house but we hardly came across her) increased the feeling of excitement and pride of possession. Joseph Keiler and Gustav, who came from Worms and whose surname I have forgotten, were members of the gang of five who pioneered the 'new 'building. There was the old gardener who came with the 'new' house, supervising our rather amateurish attempts at horticulture."   Both, this house and its large basement had, on occasions, been used by the local branch of the Worker's Educational Association (WEA) for their meetings. They approached Lore Goldschmidt with the request to continue this association. Lore was delighted. They would pay some rent which was most welcome. But more important, it would bring local people into the school. Lore, pleased with being recognised as part of the Folkestone community, organised a social gathering with meal to follow each meeting. In this way, the people of Folkestone would realize that these Enemy Aliens were in fact true friends. Once, a young man from WEA, Oxford Branch, a Richard Crossman, came and gave a magnificent talk. He predicted that France would not be able to resist a German onslaught, as it had over mobilised and could, therefore, not maintain its supplies. To the author, then 16 years old, he appeared to be a brilliant speaker and during the meal she congratulated him. She suggested that he could be Foreign Minister of England one day. He laughed and replied that he did not want that job, that he wanted to be Minister of Education. That was the beginning of a friendship which sadly ended with Richard Crossman's early death in 1976.  [2]     Another message was received via the Red Cross; this time a very hopeful message for one very young pupil. Her parents had managed to escape via a wild journey through Romania to Palestine. They wanted her to come and join them. She had been one of the children transferred by B'nai Brith to Athelstan School because, during her first billet with an East End family, she had contracted hair lice. She had begun to love Athelstan School but decided to rejoin her family and B'nai Brith undertook to get her safely to Palestine. We gave her a very tearful good-bye party.  To compensate for the absence of parents, who rarely managed to send a message, the organization of birthday parties and other celebrations was taken most seriously. We made every effort to keep happy. We played Monopoly, we played ping-pong, there was lots of singing. A sewing circle was formed to mend clothes with one person reading aloud, sometimes in German as we usually spoke English. Even some boys joined. Outwardly, pupils appeared happy. Everybody was looking forward to springtime.   Another letter from Johnson, dated the 2nd of April 1940, arrived  [3] . It contained the usual negative comment on Lore's idea about starting a school in conjunction with his agricultural settlement. Egon Stadelmann, who had been at Shorncliffe Road, had arrived in New York but Johnson did not see him as a suitable person for the settlement as he was neither married nor had farm experience. On the other hand, a much more interesting and encouraging letter arrived from Theodore Huebener  [4] , dated the 1st of May 1940. He had also met Mr.Stadelman and given him some sound advice how to proceed. He wrote that the Christian Refugee Committee was rendering valuable service. Refugee children were still arriving every day and that over 100 refugee girls were settled in one of the organization's boarding schools. He added a very important comment:" Public opinion throughout the country favors the Allies although the sentiment is strongly against active participation. According to a recent poll no less than 95% of the population is against our entering the European struggle."   This letter was written after Denmark had surrendered (the 9th of April) [5] and Hitler had invaded Norway.  

Internment of all German male refugees above 16yrs

The political fallout in England was enormous. Chamberlain's government fell and Winston Churchill became Prime Minister. Holland was invaded and surrendered on the 14th of May. Then the new British government made a costly mistake. It decided to reverse Sir John Anderson's decision and intern all B class male enemy aliens of 16 years and older. Ernst Goldschmidt, who was beginning to enjoy his first English spring in the beautiful garden with its lilac trees, was arrested by the police on Whit Sunday, the 12th of May, 1940, together with all male teachers and boys over the age of 16. This, in spite of the fact, that Ernst had visited the police on the 10th of April and received a letter from the Chief Constable of Folkestone authorizing him to remain at Earlscliffe House until further notice.  [6]  It was a horrific shock to all of us and especially to Lore whose happiness was shattered. Belgium surrendered on the 28th of May. A few days later, the Swastika could be seen flying on the other side of the Channel. The evacuation of Dunkirk began. A ghostly smoke screen lay over the Channel as hundreds of boats could be seen landing on the beaches. They were bringing the British Expeditionary Force back from France. Some of these may have been our friends from Sandgate. Next night, shelling could be heard.

Evacuation to South Wales

[7]  Otto Fendrich wrote:" This pleasant period ended when it was decided to 'evacuate' Folkestone. We were moved to South Wales where Joseph Keiler and I were billeted on the village baker, Mr. Morgan and his family in Caerwent". Next day, all went to work, some went pea picking. I helped the baker and delivered bread. The villagers were very kind to us. But the importance of the oncoming School Certificate examination was not forgotten. Lore contacted Ella Glover's mother, who was the headmistress of Drayton High School for Girls, Newport, Monmouthshire about 15km from Caerwent. Her school took the Cambridge School Certificate and she invited us to sit the examination there in July.    But the British Government, very concerned with the possibility of an invasion by Germany, ruled that enemy aliens over 16 years of age would not be allowed within 14 miles of the coast and that we would have to leave within two weeks. This meant that Ena Bruck and I, who were over 16 years old, would not be able to enter Newport and only the two younger candidates, Heinz Behrendt and Rudi Goldschmidt would be permitted to go. I decided to contact the Chief Constable of Newport and apply for an exemption. He kindly agreed to grant Ena and me a short, but unforgettable, interview. After listening to our request, he replied: "I won't know you are here, will I?" Thus we moved temporarily to Newport and all four students took their School Certificate examination. Though frequently interrupted by aerial bombardment, the examinations proceeded according to plan.  Otto Fendrich reported what happened to him and friends during that same time:" Grammar school places were in short supply and after a brief period in the village school, three of us (Joseph Keiler, Harro Bruck and I) were taken in by a girls' private school ('Nant Coch' part of Drayton High School) in Newport as day pupils. We travelled to and from Newport by 'Red & White' bus every day. The teaching was excellent and what also pleased us, we didn't have to do games. All this made up for the initial strangeness of being three boys in a girls' school."      

Tintern

  Caerwent, also too close to the coast, became out of bounds for Lore and a few older students, including cousin William Presch. By the time we returned from Newport, they had been moved to Tintern-on-Wye where Ena and I joined them. Lore was billeted with Pastor R.V. and Mrs.Nesta Smith (Photo 15). Pastor Smith was the Methodist Minister who preached at the local chapel. The Smiths, just wonderful people, gave Lore maximum support in her difficult circumstances. With Pastor Smith's help she was able to ensure that the younger children left behind in Caerwent were being well looked after by their foster parents as she, herself, could not visit them any longer. She found time to contact Robert and Margot Goldschmidt in London and received a letter  [8] and news of Dr.Gertrud Schlesinger, the mathematics teacher. Ernst, in the meantime had arrived on the Isle of Man. To raise some cash, Lore decided to sell some of the furniture left in Folkestone to Viney's of Abingdon .  [9] Before our arrival in Tintern, the Methodist Congregation had been enlarged by a group of conscientious objectors, conscripted to plant trees on the steep hillsides north of Tintern. Pastor Smith also looked after their spiritual welfare. I helped them with cooking and cleaning and earned some pocket money,. One of them, Jimmy Waite, became a friend. Ena worked in the Williams and Cotton Grocery Store, as we, both, were billeted with the manager of that store and his family. With the Battle of Britain raging, we, ironically, spent our holidays in the idyllic surroundings of Tintern waiting for the School Certificate results. When these results arrived, all 4 candidates had passed. We learnt of the existence of a Lydney Grammar School, Lydney, Glos. from the store manager as the main store of Williams and Cotton lay right opposite the grammar school in Lydney. As Lydney lay outside the protected area, Lore went to meet Mr. James Burch, the Headmaster of Lydney Grammar School. He invited Ena and me to continue our schooling at the Grammar School and most generously, he and Mrs.Margery Burch accepted us as evacuees into their house. Lydney Grammar School turned out to be a first class co-educational grammar school with a particularly good science department. Rudi Goldschmidt and Heinz Behrendt were apprenticed to an accountant in Newport and attended the Technical College there. William joined ORT. Otto Fendrich continued: " Eventually this school (Nant Coch) amalgamated with Athelstan School at Cleddon Hall, a remote country house above Tintern. There, quite a number of the old Folkestone pupils assembled. One of the two Nant Coach joint headmistresses, Miss Stefyn, (the other one was Mrs Glover) also came to live there. Joseph Keiler's aunt worked in the kitchen. It was pleasant, if a bit primitive, mainly because of the remoteness of the place. Not many tradesmen were prepared to deliver as far out as that. I have memories of helping transport baskets of laundry to Monmouth on a bicycle." Cleddon Hall was the hall of the village of Trelleck, which lies north-west above Tintern in the Welsh hills. Nant Coch School moved there after air raids on Newport became too dangerous. Lore joined the school when the new term started.   In August 1940, Ernst lodged an application with the Undersecretary of State to be released from internment.  [10]   Written in his distinct legal style, he set out reasons why the internment should never have taken place and that, as conditions under the White Paper Cmd.6217 were fulfilled, he should be eligible for release. But he was not released and had to spend the winter in the camp. Pastor Smith, who had never met Ernst, wrote him a most understanding, 4 page letter for Christmas   [11] . Lore sent the news to Theodore Huebener and inquired whether the USA would take German refugee children now in England in its evacuation program but was told by him that only children of British birth were eligible for evacuation to the US.  [12]


[1] Author's memory and photos of Athelstan School
[2] Memory of the author
[3] Johnson to LG, 2/4/1940 in possession of the author
[4] Huebener to LG, 1/5/1940 in possession of the author
[5] All dates from Time Line 1939-1945 on the internet
[6] Letter from Chief Constable to EG 10/4/1940 in possession of the author
[7] Author's memory
[8] Letter Margot and Robert Goldschmidt to LG in possession of the author
[9] Receipt for 11-4, in possession of the author
[10] Copy of Application in possession of the author
[11] Letter from Pastor Smith to Ernst, X-mas 1940, in possession of the author
[12] Letter from Huebener to Lore 16/10/1940

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