Julius Gildener – Memories

Julius Gildener – Vienna, Austria, on 7th July 1902

Profession in country of origin: Magistratsbeamter (lawyer/municipal clerk)

Arrived in Britain as a refugee from Austria on 24 April, 1939

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Julius Gildener was born in Vienna on 7th July 1902.

Julius was a Doctor of Law and worked in Vienna as a Magistratsbeamter. He probably worked as a state official in the Civil Service, but I do not know where or how the increasing restrictions on Jews affected what he díd.

Between December 1938 and February 1939, the family attempted unsuccessfully to get to Shanghai.

There is evidence of Julius being in Vienna on 3 March 1939. He was granted a visa for a single journey to enter Britain on 19th April 1939 by the British Passport Control Officer in Vienna on the condition that he proceed to the Richborough refugee clearing camp; he had to remain there until he emigrated.

Maintenance and emigration were guaranteed by the British Consul for German Jewry.  His passport was stamped in Vienna on the 22nd April 1939, to leave at a cost of RM10.

The Israelitische Kultusgemeinde in Vienna certified that Julius was physically fit for admission to the camp. How this turn of events came about, I do not know.

Julius arrived in Dover and was given leave to land on 24th April 1939 on the condition that he proceeded to the Richborough Camp for Refugees, registered with the police, and remained at the camp until emigrated. He registered in Sandwich, Kent, with the Kent County Constabulary on 25th April 1939; there is evidence that he was at Kitchener camp on 6th October 1939, when he was granted refugee status, although presumably he was in the camp from when he registered with the police.

I know nothing of his time at the camp apart from what I have imagined by reading Four Thousand Lives: The Rescue of German Jewish Men to Britain, 1939 by Clare Ungerson – an excellent book. This must have been a fraught time. His wife Helene and baby son Peter were either still in Vienna or on the run in Europe: they did not get to England until August 1939. How, I do not know.

Julius, aged 37, enlisted with No. 3 Auxilliary Military Pioneer Corps at Kitchener Camp on the 5th December 1939 and became a Private. He became part of 74 Company on 1st January 1940. He served until the 5th August 1945.

Following time served with the US Army at the end of the war, he was naturalised on the 7th January 1948. He and our family lived in York. He would never experience a return to his professional standing.

Julius died on the 28th March, 1959 … but the Gildener family live on, thanks to the Kitchener Camp.

Submitted by Jenny Evans for her grandfather Julius Gildener