Childhood Years - A Narrow Escape

The story of how I came to England goes back to November 1935. That was the time of my father’s first attempts to make the family in England aware of the coming danger in Nazi Germany. He travelled to London to seek help for his children and the family’s reaction is best explained in his letter to Oma Ermann, my maternal grandmother, who had come to live with us after my mother’s death in 1932.

Scan of the original letter from Fritz Jacobi to Clara Ermann (Oma) on 20/11/1935



Dear Oma,

I have received your letter and the dear children’s and was very pleased with them. Today I went with Betty to see a school run by the friends but on the whole, I have not made much progress. The whole business depends on Falk and I do not have the impression he will do much. This means that nothing will come of the affair. However, I cannot say this with certainty but I believe it to be so. The others take away with one hand what they have given before with the other. They lack the interest and understanding and everyone has his own problems on his mind.

Sydney has left Hilda and the divorce us affecting everyone’s mood. In short, I am far less optimistic and shall clarify the situation in the next few days so that I know whether it is a yes or a no. Uncle Max thinks that something must be done in an emergency. Nobody wants to be committed long-term. As said, I must get to the bottom of it all and if there are no delays, I shall leave on Sunday. If I cannot move these people, I must find some other way of seeing to the children’s immediate future. I shall also be writing to Herr Bauer that I intend to ring him from Cologne if he is there. Betty and Max are out today. I send you and the children warm greetings.

Yours Fritz

Friday 22.11.35

I hear that Phyllis phoned Betty and Betty had the impression that Falk would only help the boy. He considers this more important than helping Lore. If nothing else, I must be content with that. I shall see Sydney to speak with him once again. Tonight I am at Eileen’s. Then I shall know where I stand and want to leave Sunday/Monday. In any event I shall go and see Herr Bauer to talk to him.

Much love

Your Fritz

The children have written very nicely

Lore explains her family connections in England:

Betty is sister of my grandmother and is married to Max Bentley (formerly Berghausen) They came to England after 1st World War.

Eileen Levitt née Elsaesser is daughter to Adolf, my grandmother’s brother.

Phyllis is daughter of Adolf, and Eileen’s sister. She is married to Hugo Falk.
Hilda is daughter of Adolf, and sister of Eileen and Phyllis, married to Sydney – about to be divorced.

Eileen’s children are Alice and Neil. Denise Asserson is Phyllis’s daughter.

Elsaesser family photo. L to R Standing: Sara (Clara), Recha, Betty, Margot, Meta, Amy Aronson (Nanny to Adolf Elsaesser's children after the death of Alice).
L to R Seated: Adolf Elsaesser, Hilda Elsaesser, Phyllis Elsaesser, Henrietta Elsaesser, Eileen Elsaesser, Joseph Jacobi Belmont

My father returned home anxious to find help for his children. My grandmother and he tried to find contacts in the States and even thought of a proxy marriage for me in America, which some people saw as a last resort and a way out. I remember saying ‘no way’ would I do such a thing.

In the end Kristallnacht moved the family in England to agree to have me over after my father phoned and said ‘it is now or never.’

Click here to read the correspondence between Fritz Jacobi and Eileen and Nathanial Levitt, which made it possible for Lore to come to England