Josef Frank – Memories

Joseph Frank of Lathen, Germany, was at Kitchener Camp from August 12, 1939 until he was transferred to Mooragh, Isle of Man, in May 1940, and then to Camp 41 in Canada in July 1940. He was interned at Camp 41 until June 1942 and upon release moved to Winnipeg where he was “fostered” by a German Jewish family. He became a Canadian citizen in 1947 and lived his life in Winnipeg.

Joseph never talked about his experiences and it is only now, 15 years after his death, that the family are beginning to piece together his journey.

We now know that following Kristall Nacht, November 9/10, 1938, Joseph was interned at Concentration Camp Sachsenhausen for five weeks.  He was released on the promise that he leave Germany.

Joseph was sponsored to emigrate to Iowa, USA, by a Catholic pastor, Father Krull. The Krull family were friends of the veterinarian in Lathen and lived in a nearby village. The veterinarian was a friend on the Frank family and made arrangements for Father Krull’s support. It appears that on the basis of this sponsorship Joseph received the necessary exit and transit visas to leave Germany and to be accepted at the transmigrant refugee camp – Kitchener Camp in the UK. 

Joseph was the only survivor of his entire extended family. His closest surviving relative was a second cousin who escaped to Uruguay.

He married, raised two children, and enjoyed six grandchildren – all of whom helped him to rebuild his life after the loss of his family in Germany.


“This conversation has caused me to look again at one of my dad’s ‘things’. It’s a tobacco tin filled with seemingly random bits. Some papers, movie tickets, buttons and cards…

[Editor – this ‘things’ tin is actually fascinating. It is full of Kitchener camp ephemera, as you can see in the images below.]

Richborough camp, Josef Frank, Items in cigarette tin, 1939
Kitchener camp, Josef Frank, Items in cigarette tin, 1939
Richborough transit camp, Josef Frank, Picobac tobacco tin, 1939
Kitchener camp, Josef Frank, Picobac tobacco tin, 1939
Kitchener camp, Josef Frank, Orthodox service, Post Office, Odd Shift, Evening 5.45pm. Morning 6.15am
Kitchener camp, Josef Frank, Orthodox service, Post Office, Odd Shift, Evening 5.45pm. Morning 6.15am
Richborough transit camp, Josef Frank, Hut leader Committee, Bicycle no. 596, Camp no. 2959,
Kitchener camp, Josef Frank, Hut Leader Committee, Bicycle no. 596, Camp no. 2959
Richborough transit camp, Josef Frank, Hut 4/I, Office work from 11.05/1940, Camp no. 2959, Leader of hut orderly, Works Department
Kitchener camp, Josef Frank, Hut 4/I, Office work from 11.05/1940, Camp no. 2959, Leader of hut orderly, Works Department
Richborough transit camp, Josef Frank, Kosher Kitchen Office ticket, Camp no. 2959, Hut no. 4/I
Kitchener camp, Josef Frank, Kosher Kitchen Office ticket, Camp no. 2959, Hut no. 4/I
Richborough transit camp, Josef Frank, JLB 1596, 1939
Kitchener camp, Josef Frank, JLB – Jewish Lads Brigade – no. 1596
Kitchener camp, Josef Frank, Cinema ticket, Saturday, no.s 11430, 13732, 13731
Kitchener camp, Josef Frank, Cinema ticket, Saturday, no.s 11430, 13732, 13731
Richborough transit camp, Josef Frank, Items in cigarette tin, 1939 – Thimble
Kitchener camp, Josef Frank, Items in cigarette tin, 1939 – Thimble
Kitchener camp, Josef Frank, Items in cigarette tin, 1939 – Di - Dienstag (Tuesday)
Kitchener camp, Josef Frank, Items in cigarette tin, 1939 – Di – Dienstag (Tuesday)
Richborough transit camp, Josef Frank, Items in cigarette tin, 1939 – Camp number and name tag
Kitchener camp, Josef Frank, Items in cigarette tin, 1939 – Camp number and name tag

With the kind permission of the Frank family for Joseph Frank