Kitchener camp diary, Part III

Follow the links here for  Part IPart II and Part IV

 

The Diary of Phineas May, Kitchener camp co-director, 1939

Part Three: 1 June to 31 July

Thursday, 1 June 1939

A new Camp [?] time-table came into force today. WORK. 8 AM. To 1 P.M. and in afternoon English and other lessons – this is all temporary until the proper training scheme starts in about 4 to 6 weeks.

The Duke of Kent passed the Camp in the afternoon and was seen by a small number who waved to him and he acknowledged their salute.

I prepared the art exhibition (not as big as the Royal Academy) for Sunday afternoon, when at the same time English friends of the Camp will be coming for a Concert.

In the evening went with Ivy for a drive to Margate where we visited Dreamland and other low down haunts but as the season has not begun everything was very dead but it made a change.
Kitchener camp, Some Victims, 1939 - Art
Kitchener camp, Some Victims of the Nazi Terror, 1939 - Art
Friday, 2 June 1939

Most important event today was my Office Boys (Weiner Kaufmann’s) 17 birthday. I gave him a pair of shoes, which he needed badly, and arranged a little Tea Party for him and had him a cake made with his name on it.

I was invited by one of the huts to their “Oneg Shabbat” and they really gave me a wonderful welcome and made a pretty speech and it was really a very pleasant evening. They had decorated their table with Flowers and had the resemblance of a meal. The spirit was marvellous considering what they have been through.
Saturday, 3 June 1939

A rather busy day with various callers including the Clergy. We are now getting many requests for concerts for surrounding charities. This weekend is a musical festival and in the evening we had an Orchestral Concert which was very fine.

Discussed with Mr Ernest Joseph many things which we require including a proper sports field and he has already started to “get a move on”.

A newspaper notice about the Camp and in particular about the “K.C. Review” said “The June issue is really interesting, and those who in years to come possess a full set of the issues of this publication will quite likely have something which will be of intrinsic value”.
Sunday, 4 June 1939

One of my busiest days so far. Spent morning in dealing with the one hundred details and temperamental artists who were going to perform in the Classical Concert for our English friends in the afternoon.

In addition arranged a musical lunch for the staff.

About 800 visitors came to the Concert in the afternoon and we made £5 from the programmes – just duplicated sheets. The music was very good – if rather above the level of the audience – but we were congratulated on our efforts to improve the musical tastes of the neighbourhood.

After the Concert a Trick-Motor Cyclist we have in Camp gave a performance with some other young men which was most enjoyed by the spectators.

In the evening we had the first performance of our own Dance Band, and it was an amazing success – absolutely first-class and we are likely to hear a lot more about it I should think before long – they will no doubt be in great demand. They had some how all managed to dress alike – Red Pull-overs and grey flannels and it was very effective.

We received over the week-end the valuable loan of drums and valuable other band instruments.
Monday, 5 June 1939

One is continually receiving requests for one thing and other, withing an hour I had to give answer to such varying questions as, Can I go fishing in the River round here? Why have I been here three months and only twice been to the pictures? The 24 men who have been allowed to join the Tennis Club, but I came before them, Why should I? Could you arrange for a party of men to go to the Canterbury Festival? I am a Book-binder. Can you find some works for me to do? Why can’t we use the lake for swimming? And so on infa itum or what ever you call it.

It sometimes becomes almost unbearable, especially when one has been going to know end of trouble to arrange the matter – but still that is what I am here for.

In the afternoon there was an assembly of the whole Camp for a necessary reminder from J., that if one man lets the Camp down every one might suffer.

I with two Members of my staff went to the Sir Roger Manhood School to deal with the one hudred details necessary in connection with our sports day there on the 24th. We have had so many entries that there will have to be many preliminary heats the previous week. The Sports Master of the School, a Mr. Christian is a very charming fellow and gave us most valuable advice.

At 8 p.m went to Sandwich and for a walk round the camp and took two of my Staff for a Coffee at the Tudor Tea Rooms, a beautiful old place. As we arrived back in Camp another 90 arrived from Vienna.

Arrivals: Hermann Diamant

Tuesday, 6 June 1939

Glorious fine and warm weather has set in, and most work in the Camp is being done in shorts and nothing else.

I received a `phone message during the day from the Mayor of Ramsgate inviting our bands to play on the new East Cliff Bandstand on July 19th, and also to send one of our Lorry’s decorated for the Carnival in aid of the Hospital.

The Vicar of Whigham and his wife, called to see me. It is a small village near by and I am sending some musicians to help at their garden fête. The list of bookings is now quite large – I wonder if we should have so many if we charged for them.

In the evening we had a small Concert in the Camp Hospital which was much appreciated by the patients and others.
From the archives of the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust, London, UK
With kind permission, from the archives of the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust, London, UK
Wednesday, 7 June 1939

A few purchases to be made took me, Ivy and my Office Boy (Weiner Kaufmann) to Margate and a pleasant break by having a proper cup of Coffee for a change. In the afternoon we have a “Jury” to try those who claim to be musicians. 

Examined plans for making swimming safe in the lake.

J. informed me that he had received a letter from Mr Ernest Joseph saying that I must be released for the J.L.B. Camp as it would be difficult to manage without me. I know what I would reply, but unfortunately I am not a free agent – so I suppose I will have to have this Busman’s holiday.

The Mayor of Sandwich desires us to give Concerts on their open air Bandstand, as indicated before, the calls upon us are now very great.

In the evening we had an open air “ten minute Concert”

About 10.30 I was just having my finger bandaged (it is still not right) when a Hut Leader came excitedly to the Doctor and said that one of the men in his hut had gone crackers and was threatening to do all sorts of things and was brandishing a knife.

We went over to him and calmed the man down and took him to the hospital. We found an open knife between [##] bed-sheets.
Thursday, 8 June 1939

Having first to smooth over difficulties beween tempremental musicians, which I hope I was successful in doing. Went into detailed figures of prices at Canteen to find out if we could sell at much lower figures – I am convinced after most careful examination that my Canteen has the finest value for miles around, which reminds me that very, very slowly they are building my Canteen. Gerald, Rosalie and their baby visited the Camp in the afternoon for the first time and I had tea with them with J. and Ivy in the flat.

I also got our plans and examined suggestions that have been submitted to me to make the lake safe for bathing. My own opinion is that a lot will have to be done to it to make it really safe as it is surrounded with weeds. The Sandwich String Orchestra which is now chiefly musicians from our Orchestra had a social evening to which I was invited, it would have been quite a pleasant change if I could have stayed to the end but I had an appointment to view a film taken by 1 man in the Camp with several “shots” of me … however when I got back to the Camp [sentence not completed]
Friday, 9 June 1939

As it is now quite impossible to concentrate for more than 10 minutes on anything without being disturbed, I had to lock myself away with our Typist (Male) in the Staff hut to try and get started on the next issue of the Camp Magazine.

Also completed plans for making the lake safe for bathing and completed new Schedule for Canteen.

Elsie Hyman arrived at 5pm., and I showed her round the Camp and she stayed to supper.

In the evening the Dovercourt Boys had an “Oneg Shabbat” in their hut which had been nicely decorated by them. The rooms darkened and lights covered with red paper to give a dim red light.
Saturday, 10 June 1939

I had completed all arrangements to enable 6 Scouts to go to Camp with 6 Cambridge Students at Cambridge and they were deeply grateful. They have made a flag with the words “From the Kitchener Camp Scouts to the Cambridge Scouts.” They had also made an album with a fret-worked covered [?] with [?] the [?] Scouts badge, with photographs of themselves taken in the Camp in Austria and also with drawings and sketches all very nicely done. I am sure they will be very pleased with the gift.

In the afternoon we had a meeting of all the Scouts in Camp and hope to get a really first class group of Scouts going, Mr Frank Levy (the Brigade Scout) was down here and is giving his advice and assistance. Arranged for a further party of men to go to Tea with a Major and Mrs Powell-Collen [?] who have a Museum and beautiful gardens (several acres) at Birchington.

About 5 pm my boy (Weiner Kaufman) came to me almost in tears (he is a youth of 17) and he is one of the Dovercourt Boys. The Dovercourt Boys had just been told that they were all going to be sent to a Farm at Oxford on Tuesday, as it was impossible for them to get trainee jobs.

He told me that all the boys were very happy in te Camp and had no wish to leave. They had all learnt jobs such as carpentry, plumbing, boiler fitting, and wish to continue their trades.

They asked to see J., who consented to see them at 9 p.m., which he did with Professor Bentwich and D.S.Woolf.

The result was that they will not be sent to the farm at Oxford, but have been told that they must themselves try and find trainee jobs outside the Camp, as we want the room for men from the Concentration Camps. For myself I shall be very sorry to lose them, and especially Weiner, as he is a fine fellow and an excellent worker.

In evening took Community singing an a “Do-as-you-please-Concert”, the only new talent was a wonderful singer and good mouth organ player – nearly a Larry Adler.
Sunday, 11 June 1939

One of my personal office staff who had been in London for a week and returned yesterday told me he had dined with Claire Luce the actress at Claridges (at her invitation and in evening had been given a box at the Lyric Theatre where she is acting. He says she was a friend of his wife and had signed their advidavent [?] for america.

A Mr Morris of Ramsgate whom I purchase a lot of things from for the Canteen unexpectedly in the afternoon said he insisted on my going for a run with him in the car and having Tea with him. We took with us Weiner Kaufman, my Office boy, and his wife and their little children was in the car. We went for a very pleasant drive and had a delightful tea in a little 400 year old, timbered cottage, and he then went back to Ramsgate where he lives to leave his children and we arrived back in the Camp at 6.45 where had just arrived Don Sesta and his Gauchos Band (by kind permission of Bobby & Co. Folkestone) were they brighten a large departmental store.

They gave an outstanding performance and I have never heard a similar band anywhere near as good. They were dressed in Spanish dress and they got a tumultous applause. It was really a first class evening in fact undoubtedly the best entertainment the men have had so far. He said, in addressing the men that with my permission he would come again. I gave him unqualified permission.
Monday, 12 June 1939

This is a very unhappy day for the Camp, for despite every effort by the Camp authorities, the ex-Dovercourt boys will be leaving tomorrow to go on a farm in Oxfordshire. The boys have been extremely happy here and hate the idea of leaving and have threatened to refuse to go when the time come. The Movement for the (?) Care of Children who are responsible for these boys have treated them very badly, Prof. Bentwich has done his utmost to prevent them going and telephone calls all day have been made to London about them to try and keep them here.

What is worst of all is that my Office boy Weiner Kaufman has got to go and he could not restrain his tears, as we have be such very good friends and he has worked wonderfully and I shall miss him very much indeed.

I saw J', specially this afternoon to `phone or telegraph London to put in a special plea for him, but J., said Prof. Bentwich said he had been so badly treated it was useless trying further.

We spent the last evening together but I fear we were both very heavy of heart, it is astonishing how attached one can become to somebody in so a short a time.

There was also a farewell party to another excellent worker in the Camp.
Tuesday, 13 June 1939

Awoke early and took a box of chocolate to give to each of the Dovercourt boys. J., gave them a farewell speech at Breakfast and I had a photograph taken with the two boys I have been most friendly with: Heinz and Weiner.

The coach to take them away arrived at 10 a.m and before they left the Mayor of Sandwich got in the coach a said a few words of farewell. There were [###] wet eyes in the coach and tears were streaming down Weiner cheeks, yet he was trying to joke. There is no doubt they have been very happy here. I went with them as far as Canterbury, they are going to the Wallingford Farm Training Colony, Farmers Court, Benton, Oxford. Some how I feel we shall hear more about those excellent boys.

As I waited in Canterbury for a bus to take me back to the camp, a magnificent car stopped and Mr Ernest Joseph said “Jump in”. was not that a bit of luck.

On my return I felt a terrible gap in my office and fortunately I had so much work waiting to take my mind off it. All the afternoon I was engaged all the time with the Reporter and Staff Photographer of the “News-Chronicle” who are going to feature tomorrow and for two subsequent issue an article about the Camp.

In the evening was the official opening of our Cinema by Mr Lionel de Rothschild and Mr Oscar Deutch who presented it. The Cinema looked really beautiful, the colour scheme being Red and White, with gold curtains. The programme consisted of a news film, a “Donald Duck” Silly Symphony and a Technicolour Film just recently “The Four Feathers”. It was chosen because there is frequent reference to Lord Kitchener in it. It was excellent though it could have done with some cutting. After the performance at 11.45 the guests had tea in an adjoining buffet. The evening was a great success and was a happy occasion for the architects, Electricians and Builders who have helped to build it.
Wednesday, 14 June 1939

The “News-Chronicle” article about the Camp was in great demand and the Lady Reporter a Miss Morgan was here again today for more material.

It was necessary to start a system for admitting 400 men a day and the check up is not quite so simple. In the evening the first regular performance was given. it was “The Ghost Goes West” but I could only see half of it as there was a farewell party for a young man who will be going to australia tomorrow (and leaving his younger brother in the Camp) and for another man birthday. It was in a hut and the tables had been arranged very nicely and some how or other food obtained and the dinner included the usual speeches

J. and Ivy, were present and it proved a very happy evening, especially as the hut contains some of the first arrivals and hardest working members of the Camp.
Thursday, 15 June 1939

We have commenced very seriously training for our Sports day on Saturday week. Jumping pits have been made, 100 yards tracks marked out and in the evening intensive practice in throwing the weight, and the Javelin, and long jump and high jump, for we have received a lot of entries for our sports day. 

Went over with our Conductor to a girls school very near the camp, The Stonas House school to make arrangements for a Concert our Orchestra gave in the evening it is a lovely building. 

The “News-Chronicle” representative a Miss Morgan who has written a series of 3 articles about the Camp made her final [?] call. She has been very impressed with the Camp.

The Cinema is going well and one feels like a proffessional Manager when one welcomes ones clients to the place in an evening.
Friday, 16 June 1939

Went into Sandwich with Ivy to make purchase of a wedding present. 

Afternoon was a free one for the men who have entered for the sportsday so that the heats could be started. 

A `phone call came through at 6.30 from my boys Weiner Kaufmann and Heinz Lohafe who had left the camp on Tuesday. They said that though the farm was better than they expected they all wanted to come back and were doing their utmost to get permission to do so. I, with them, hope for the best. 

I have been badly stung on my arms and face and I did not look a pretty sight when the doctor put a huge plaster bandage on my cheek.
Saturday, 17 June 1939

Prof. Norman Bentwich and a friend of his, a well-known B.B.C. Broadcaster whose name is so well known that I have already forgotten it, asked me to show them around the camp (they wanted a thorough inspection) We started at 10 a.m and we had not finished at 12.30 a.m., but they said they would they the rest for granted. Prof. Bentwich invited me and Banks to tea at the cottage they have bought at Sandwich.

It is about 400 years old and with fine old oak beams. They have had done up in delightful colours and it is really very charming. They had a very nice tea and it was a very pleasant change.

In the evening they came to our cinema at which (being well in with the management) I reserved the seats for them.
Sunday, 18 June 1939

Started off with the good intention of getting through a heap of work, when first I was asked if I would come and see and hear an electrical apparatus one of my staff had brought with him for the manufacture of gramophone records.

I listened to a record made in the Camp and was asked to propose the subject for a record and they would come for me in hour to take me to the recording room, which had been temporarily fitted up in the Hospital.

The recording apparatus, an elaborate affair with valves and discs was in one cubicle and the microphone in the other.

I duly made my speech to the point at which I intended to sing !!! when they told I should stop.

I did so and they took me across to the recording room where the played me over this record they had just made. I confess I had spoken very carefully and slowly but I was horrified how Oxford accenty and B.B.C., and all that old thing, it sounded. I told him that that if that was how I sounded when I spoke slowly perhaps it would be better for me to continue speaking fast. Anyhow it was an interesting experience.

After it I made an arrangement whereby I could show our film to all the members of the Camp who have not yet seen it as a new film comes tomorrow.

The “Jewish Chronicle” having at last sent a Reporter (a Woman Journalist Refugee herself) to report about the Camp I devoted six hours to showing and telling her everything about the Camp. I only hope that the result will justify the time I devoted to her as we have so far been neglected by the “Jewish Chronicle”

In the evening the continuous [?] performance of the Cinema was a success and all men were able to see the film.

I was again asked to compose the words for music that has been written in the Camp for a show we are presenting next week called “Memories of Vienna”. It is extraordinarily difficult to fit in the words with the beat of the music and most probably twice as difficult for one who has no ear for music.

The words are:-

“Vienna was so sweet, so gay, and is our home,

Memories linger, although through the world we roam;

Vienna you all love, though we are far away,

You will forever be our home.

x                  x                            x

Vienna is so dear, so fine, and all to us,

Memories linger, it was ever thus,

Vienna you are ours, though years we’re apart,

You will forever be our home.
Kurt Bondy, Kitchener Camp Review, April 1939, Page 11
Kurt Bondy, Kitchener Camp Review, April 1939, Page 11
Monday, 19 June 1939

They came to me again today to retake my “speech” for the record which they duly did in the Cinema operating room. Five minutes after making it they asked me to go into the auditorium of the cinema where a few musicians were practising.

Then came my voice “This is Mr Phineas, the Sports and Recreation Officer – etc.”, booming from the screen to the astonishment of the musicians who knew nothing about the recording apparatus and who saw me sitting silently beside them.

J. and Ivy all went to London Mid-day and will not return until tomorrow, and we are going to try to make a record of David if we can get him to speak.

We have now received so many applications to give music at Garden-Fete etc., and a letter having appeared in the local paper suggesting we are doing English musicians out of employment, that we have written to the Home Office for advice as if we do not accept the invitations they will also complain.

Went to the Sports Ground of the Sir Roger Manhood School to make any necessary preparations for our Sports day on Saturday

In the evening Prof. Bondy arrived back, and is just staying for a few days. He is going to run a similar camp in Holland.

Our Italian Doctor leaves on Wednesday morning and gave a farewell party at which I made a speech – which with the usual German politeness they laughed loudly at.
Kitchener camp, Ferdinand Vulkan, Recreation record
Tuesday, 20 June 1939

We made today a record of David’s voice, with his nurse, with difficulty we got him to say a few words. The completed record was handed to J. and Ivy on their return from London and it was a pleasant surprise for them. 

J., who had attended a meeting of the Camp Committee at Sir Robert home in London last night said that the Committtee had said we Banks, J., and myself must have 14 days leave and we are to [###] the dates. J. will take his in Sept., and it will depend on when Banks takes his, when I can take mine. My stay in the J.L.B. is not to count as leave.

In the evening there was another farewell party, this time to Mr. E. W. Kulinsky, the Mystery Man as the newspapers called him on his arrival at the Camp.

During the afternoon a batch of 81 men arrived from Germany making the number of men who have been through the Camp more than 2,000.
Wednesday, 21 June 1939

So the longest day has now gone. I spent the afternoon with two of my staff and the Sports Master of the Sir Roger Manhood School getting the school grounds marked out for Saturday. It all has to be marked out excellently. It is a lovely ground. The boys of the school were playing outside and it took me back to my boyhood again.

A party of 27 men arrived who had been stranded off Cuba on the St. Louis.

We had a strange job to do this evening, but my dept., are always prepared to tackle the most difficult tasks. This was the “grub” for a Wedding feast in one of the huts. A young Doctor, had a visa to america and his Fiancee to whom he has been engaged to a long time also has a quota number to america but it is ever so far down the list. The only way she would be able to go sooner is as his Wife, so permission was given for the marriage which was at the Ramsgate Registry Office this afternoon witnessed by J. and Banks.

I must confess that though by far the simplest the Wedding “feast” in the evening, with poems to the young couple, music, speeches including one by the Director and evening a Dance by the Bride and Bridegroom is was one of the nicest. I `phoned London in the evening and asked Mr. P. Goldberg (J. Sec. United Synagogue) if it would be in order to marry them again on Sunday in the Camp Synagogue by the Camp Rabbi so they can have the satisfaction of also being married according to Jewish Law. He was not certain and intended to `phone the Secretary of the Chief Rabbi, for one must have the Chief Rabbi Marriage certificate at a Jewish English Wedding.
Thursday, 22 June 1939

J. and I were on to London and Margate synagogue and completed all arrangements so that the young couple can be married under the chuppah in our synagogue on Sunday afternoon. Rather strange that it should be the very afternoon of my first leave to go to London to a Wedding.

Nearly completed all written matter for next issue of “K.C. Review”.

Went to sports ground in evening to continue with planning out the grounds for Sat.

Was able to see the whole of “Victoria the Great” at the Camp Cinema. Anna Neagles [?] make up is exceedingly good.
Friday, 23 June 1939

Completing final pages of K.C. Review. 

Went to the Sir Roger Manhood Sports field and helped with the final details of the Sports programme and laying out the track. 

In the evening the J.L.B. Marquee Synagogue, which has been sent up here, was consecrated.
Saturday, 24 June 1939

The elements were not kind and it drizzled “rather more than somewhat” from a quarter of an hour before the start of the race. Nevertheless we went through with all the items. The 100 yards and 2 mile racing were of exceptional interest to watch as the running was very good. Also the throwig the discuss was of exceptional merit – nearly international standard we're told.

In the evening we had a concert of music by Vienniese Composers – both orchestras, piano, singing, etc., and it was a most delightful evening which was much enjoyed by everybody.
Sunday, 25 June 1939

Tried to bring all my work up-to-date so that I could go up to London after the Camp Wedding at 4.45pm. The Bridgegroom had been dressed by his comrades in evening dress – he might have been going to a Wedding ceremony in the East End. Ivy who was to give the Bride away brought her to the Synagogue in his car. She (the Bride) looked really charming. I made Banks act as best man and J., acted at the Father. The Synagogue had been decordated, and with the real Chupah and Minister from the Margate Synagogue it was very “Kosher”.

I left for London with Halford immediately after and we drove through some lovely by-ways of Deal. On arrival I booked room at Royal Hotel and went straight to the Wedding Reception of a Member of the U.S. Staff at Ghutto’s [?] in the Strand. It was the usual yiddish business. Several of the staff of the U.S. were there who received me very well.
Monday, 26 June 1939

First went to see my Tenant at my Flat. She is keeping it very nicely and I hope she will keep it on. After being accustomed to everything on such a large scale the flat looked very small. I then visited the Head Office of Odeon to make arrangements for our Cinema and was very well received and they made a cup of coffee especially for me. They will do all they can to help us, and I suggested certain films they should get, which they are going to try to do.

Went to Office and was well received by Mr Goldberg was was very interested in everything. My unfamiliar eyes made all seem strange and [###]. Dined with Lewis at a beautiful Tudor Restaurant near his Office. Picked up Joe afterwards and with Lewis went to Baker St. to meet Frances where they left us. Had Tea with her at Selfridges and afterwards to Marble arch pavilion an saw “Three Smart Girls Grow Up” with Deanna Durbin At 7.15 took coach back to Camp, and in it met 3 Campmen who made company on the journey. We arrived back at 11 am.
Tuesday, 27 June 1939

Away only one day and they tell me all did not go well with the arrangements at the Cinema. Refugees do not like taking instructions from their own comrades. 

Put the last few paragraphs in the “K.C. Review”. 

Took a young member of the Camp, who I call Rachmaninoff, his real name is Ramelberg to Tea at the 17th Century Tea Room at Sandwich as he is leaving the Camp on Thursday and we have been very good friends.

A further 50 men arrived from Germany. 

The film in our Cinema was “South Riding” Rather difficult for the men to understand. 

I am suffering with a stiy in my left eye.
Wednesday, 28 June 1939

Kept appointment with the solicitors of the Town Council to discuss question of Music Licences. It will come up for [###] at the Bench on July 10th. All interviewed Supt., of Police in connection with same [?] matter. Afterwards interviewed the Postmaster re question of necessity for additional Licenses for Radio Sets given to us.

Press representative called this afternoon to try and confirm some amazing sky [?] rumour he had heard. I had to disappoint him.

Completed “K.C. Review” in afternoon. 

At 8.15 I received a message to come over to J., flat. One of the men had died in the Kent County Mental Hospital. I `phoned up the Hospital, London, Margate to make all the necessary funeral arrangements. 

It is rather strange that we had a Birth, a Marriage and a Death within one week.

Kitchener camp, Walter Brill, Winston Brill, birth, marriage, newspaper notice, Refuge life at Richborough
Thursday, 29 June 1939

Went into Sandwich first thing to see Registrar but was informed Certificate of Death was only obtainable at the village of Minister. Spoke to Coroner over `phone at Dover and he promised to do everything possible to speed up removal permit of body, and he would `phone me as soon as I could get certificate. 

Returned to Camp and completed post etc. and at 11.30 received `phone message from Coroner that all was O.K. A car was ready to run me to Minister to pick up certificate which I did and went on to Canterbury had Lunch and took first train to London. 

At London went straight to Burial Society and made all arrangements. 

Supped at Pamperdown [?] House, reported to J., at Camp, and spent evening with Rauschberg and his parents at their flat in Greencroft Gardens and listened to Lord Halifax’s warning to Germany. 

Went to Royal Hotel for the night.
Friday, 30 June 1939

Spent morning with Frances at her Flat and visited Pearl with her, lunched with F., and then went to Burial Society and afterwards to funeral of Salomon Buslik at East Ham Cemetary. His Fiancee was there and Rabbi Van d. Zyl. 

Afterwards I returned to Camp and arrived back at 7 p.m. I was told that the Marquise of Reading had visited the Camp and that five men arrived with me making us now over 2000 in Camp.

Shortly after my arrival I was invited to an Oneg Shabbat and it turned out to be a very pleasant affair.
Saturday, 1 July 1939

I was introduced to some interesting new tallent in the Camp today. One was a Musical Conductor of the Stutgart Radio Station and was an authority on 18th Century music. 

Another was a Trapeze artist who has performed at the London Palladium and with Bertram Mills. 

The third took me to his hut and showed me a wonderfu electric telescopic apparatus he has. He has a wonderful collection of slides which he has taken some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. He has 700 with him. Some night views of Vienna were magnificent, I arranged to show a few of them in the repeat performance of our concert of the works of Viennese Composers in the evening.
Sunday, 2 July 1939

I think the whole Camp wished to see me this morning about one thing or another. There were two Weddings solemnised in the Sir Moses Montefiore Memorial Synagogue in Ramsgate. It is a beautiful little Synagogue in White Marble and Gold. The Service is Spanish and Portugese. Beside the Synagogue is his Tomb.

The two young couples met at J.’s flat, as he acted as sponsor in both cases. Banks acted as best man for one and I for the other. After the ceremony the Minister invited the Wedding Party to Tea at his house next door and they had been to a lot of trouble to make a nice tea.

The comrades of the Bridgegrooms had both arranged a “Wedding Feast” in their huts, and so we of course had to make the usual “social round”.
Monday, 3 July 1939

Coming over to my office from the staff hut this morning I met a man who had only his shoulder a large black, I think it – Jackdaw, it immediately transferred itself to my shoulder and when I turned my head and smiled at it, it pecked my teeth. It was quite tame – it is amazing for a wild bird to be like that. 

Went into Sandwich to deal with “matters of state”. Having a very heavy post I was glad when I had finished with the last letter.

We are showing “Elephant Boy” this week. I have not seen it, I had not time but will see during this week – if only in bits. 

I had many callers to see me in the evening including Harris S. Gordon who is billed as “World’s Professional Canoe Champion  The Wizard with the Canoe.” One of my staff was a famous boatsman and he was try to get my authority to allow him to perform with him. 

We are preparing designs in our office to decorate our motor lorry to enter it for the Ramsgate Carnival as I have received an invitation to do so by the Mayor.
Tuesday, 4 July 1939

Certain rumours got round the Camp that no men were allowed to leave the Camp and the Police (that is Camp) were preventing men leaving even with passes. J. and Banks were equally in the dark and it was amusing when they told J., that nobody was allowed out.

All thee musicians were assembled and I gave them warning regarding certain Home Office regulation regarding them. 

In the afternoon the Cement Marketing Co. gave a Lecture Demonstration on Cement Plastering. 

In the evening a Lorry arrived trying to sell fruit and I did a “deal” for the Canteen.

The road makers are anxious to complete the first strip of roadway leading from the Gateway to the staff hut, and to encourage the men who had been working all day after supper the staff gave them a hand and I did such tasks as filling the Cement Mixing Machine (such as are used by all road makers) with “ballast”. Wheeling barrow loads of concrete to the road-makers, leveling the concrete (the heaviest job) and except for  short break to welcome 40 new arrivals to the Camp from Berlin and a cup of Tea at J.s Flat, worked till 1 a.m.

To see the photograph in its original context, please click on the image

Kitchener camp, Mixing cement, Herbert Nachmann, on the right, holding a shovel.
Wednesday, 5 July 1939

I had interviews with all my departmental “chiefs”. (Cinema, Entertainments, Sports, Signwriters, Canteen ) (Musicians) and told them they must greatly improve their depts, or we should find other people to do them. If one does not keep them up to scratch they soon get slack. I had to settle quarrels between the leaders of the Classical and Jazz Bands and the Kinema Operator and the Manager.

The Chief of the Camp Police said that he had handed in his resignation and he would like to work under me. I hope he thinks the same after working a week.

The new Canteen will be ready for use next week and as I am not at all satisfied with the man who has been running it and there are certain rumours about it which have been made all the more suspicious by the results of the takings last month we held a long conference this afternoon with all people concerned and it was my unpleasant duty in the evening to tell him we must make a change at once and was talking with him for two hours and he said he thought it would be only fair if he could speak to the Chief accountant who when I summoned him to come made such a fool of himself that I felt I had to apologise to the Canteen Manager – but he will have to go quickly and afterwards I told the accountant that I could not hold myself responsible for any loss that might now occur – he is seeing the man tomorrow to see that he can get rid of him at once.
Thursday, 6 July 1939

The gentleman referred to above has been given notice to quit. He came to me to try and get him a permit to spend 14 days in London with his Wife. He most probably can well afford it.

With J. and Banks went to Ramsgate to act as a Witness at the Marriage in the Ramsgate Registrars Office, of another member of the Camp. It is the first time I have seen a marriage in that way – they try to create a dignified atmosphere [?]. The Registrar asked the Bridgegroom what his Fathers trade was – he said he was a Wine Merchant, and the he asked the Bride and she said her Father was a Caviar Merchant. Then began a discussion on the merits of Caviar, and quite unconsciously the Registrar said “Of course Champagne and Caviar go very well together”. – See it.

I had a stream of callers during the afternoon. 

In the evening I had a request to take a class in Squad Drils about 60 of the men are going to Palestine and will offer their services to the Palestine Reserve.

I felt like being back on Parade again. They were very good “Recruits” some were ex-Officers, and they soon learnt what the English words of Command meant, and it will not take long to train them. Banks and I will take them alternative weeks.

Immediately following I was told there was a break down of current and I had to go over with the Electrician to the Power Station to get the matter put right.
Kitchener camp, Some Victims, 1939 - gardening
Kitchener camp, Some Victims of the Nazi Terror, 1939 - gardening
Friday, 7 July 1939

Spent morning going into all the new arrangements for running the Canteen and with Representative from J. Lyons re installation of Ice-Cream Refrigerator. 

In afternoon went with Banks to a Display given by the Deaf and Dumb School at Margate. It is a fine building and the classrooms very good. They have classes in dressing making, Tailoring, Carpenters and a Printing works and forgetting for a moment that it was a Deaf and Dumb and not a Blind school I said to him that I supposed that this was where they printed the Braille Books which tickled him for hours after. The guest of honour was the Marquise of Wellington, who inspected our Camp three years ago.

The Dancing and P.T. Display by the Boys and girls, all done by signs, was very good. They were dressed in Pastel shades of Blue, Green, Red and Yellow which was very pleasing to the eye. The music was provided by the Boys of the Duke of York Regiment; a very fine Brass Band.

On return went into final details of new canteen, and in evening visited several huts and discovered in one some clever caricatures of the hut members painted on the walls, and other with new and clever gardens.
Saturday, 8 July 1939

A young “Rabbi” (who by the way knew all our Family in Beefelden [?]) gave a sermon in the synagogue and he spoke so clearly and precisely that I could nearly understand all he said, which I verified with him afterwards. 

I was crossing near the entrance to the Camp when I saw two people I had met once before (in the Metropolitan Theatre of Vanities [?]) in the Edgware Rd., that was Mr Horace Goldin, the Great illusionist; and his Wife (who is by the way very distantly related to us) She recognised me at once. He is completely a week at the Hippodrome, Margate. He takes the whole Theatre and books other turns to support his own programme. He has promised to try and bring a show over next Saturday afternoon. I think it would be very popular. It was fortunate I met him, as nobody else was likely to have known who he was. He had with him twin boys, Refugees who he had adopted. When I took him to the cinema, playing in the vestibule (or Foyer) were our 3 best musicians. I introduced them to him and told they had been great musicians in Vienna – which was confirmed bu the twins who said that one of them they had known very well and he was a very well known musician.

All lights in Camp were out at 10pm as there was a air-Raid Black out in Kent. The siren [?] was sounded in Sandwich but although we went on the Water Tower there was of little interest to see.
Richborough transit camp, Some Victims of the Nazi terror, 1939 - the water tower
Kitchener camp, Some Victims of the Nazi terror, 1939 - the water tower
Sunday, 9 July 1939

Woke up feeling very unwell and felt so all day, and was given some charcoal to drink, which I retained for the use of the signwriters. 

Many people visited the Camp and one of the huts gave a delightful concert in front of its entrance. 

The London Committee where down today in a very critical mood. 

Hospital made me a special supper.
Monday, 10 July 1939

Still indisposed but had to deal with an endless stream of callers both from in and out the Camp. 

The men are admitted to the cinema by showing the badge with their number, and they are always up to some dodge to try and get in on any day but the day they have been allotted. This specially applies to a Monday when we show a new film. Today huts 1, 2. 3. and 4 were entitled to go. I caught one man who had a badge he had altered so that he thought he would get in without being noticed.
Tuesday, 11 July 1939

Routine work kept me busy all day and until a late hour. 

Midday the new Canteen was opened and though we have waited a very long time for it, it is a very fine bit of work by our carpenters. As we now do more than £20 business everyday it is as busy, if not busier, than any shop. 

In the evening I took an “N.C.O’s” class, for the “Palestine Protection Society” as I must call it.
Wednesday, 12 July 1939

Amongst my visitors today was Issy Bonn (the Hebrew Comedian) who with Horace Goldin is giving us the show on Saturday afternoon. Although very different from what I had imagined him on the Radio – [?] and he is going to give a very good show as he said he was so impressed with everything. 

I had other visitors who occupied me late into the night and as I have been feeling well and a very bad I again felt done up.
Thursday, 13 July 1939

Simply inundated with callers and found it impossible to concentrate on anything though I now have in my room an English Secretary (male) to deal with my correspondence etc. only. 

I am very worried as pressure of other work has prevented me concentrating yet on the next issue of the K.C. Review and as Banks is going away for a fortnight additional work will fall on my shoulders. 

Visited the Sec. of Margate Hospital re a show we are giving in aid of their hospital. 

86 men arrived from Germany and in the evening had another “Parade” of the Palestine Protection Society.
Friday, 14 July 1939

I had to go into Ramsgate to obtain an urgent supply of cigarettes as the Canteen had sold right out. The driver of our car, a very decent fellow told me that he had just received a letter from his sister who went out with his mother and Brother to Shanghai. They are living 60 people in a small house, and as the Jewish community has exausted all its finances his people are starving. 

I went with him to the post office and we air mailed some money at once but they cannot get it for a week. One hears these things everyday – it is terrible.

We had a puncture in one tyre and had to change it in Ramsgate High St.

A policeman on duty told me he thought we had the wrong car licence and that he ought to summon us – but I told him not to bother as we had plenty of police at the Camp who could do that. He took my advice.

In the evening I found a chocolate-box full of cakes made by the wife of a staff member, for me.
Saturday, 15 July 1939

The turns that were appearing at the Westbrook Pavillion and Margate Hippodrome came to Lunch and afterwards gave us a marvellous variety Show including Horace Goldin the illusionist, Issy Bonn, and many excellent if not so well known turns. They included exceedingly clever trick cyclists, tumblers, a wonderful juggler, a clever girl accordionist, a fellow dressed as a clown but who was a fine musician playing the xylophone, Bagpipes etc. They gave the show twice at 2.30 and 4 so that all the Camp could see it.

In the evening Lewis unexpectedly arrived and fortunately we had our own Variety show in the evening, the best we have so far given. The first scene was a gangster scene exceedingly funny, in which the sister of a camper member took a prominent part. A very good entertainment so the campmen had a good day of it.
Sunday, 16 July 1939

A day of incidents amongst them was a call at my office from the Camp Police with a member of my artists group. The fellow is an awfully nice young man of 23 who had been married only 8 months, and his 21 year old wife has a job as a domestic in Sandwich. Last week she had occasion to go to London, and as he could not go with her he entrusted her in the hands of a middle aged and responsible member of the German staff who was a friend of his, and who was going to London at the same time. He said that his wife complained that he had suggested as he had not much money that he should share a room together and that she should be nice to him and kiss him. She left him at once and went to stay for the night at some friends, and returned next day to Sandwich and told her husband. I arranged to see J., with the Police and we told him – so J., arranged to interview the offending member of the staff, who subsequently denied everything and said it was a complete misunderstanding as he was a respectable married man, and that he would see the young couple and explain everything. 

I was going towards the gate in the afternoon when two motor-coach loads of “trippers” drove into the Camp. I went over to see who they were and who had invited them – they said they were from some convalescent home and were going to see round the Camp. I said I thought that they might have first written and asked permission as this was a private camp and we would not have large parties of people going round as it was not a place of entertainment. If they wish to go round I would have to break up into small parties. They were the rough and very common type who thought they were fully entitled to do what they liked in the Camp and if they could they would go elsewhere and write to the Press about the inhospitality of the Camp. As they were that type I was very pleased they did not go round.

In the evening we gave our first open-air classical Orchestral concert on the Bandstand on the Rope Walk at Sandwich to a very large crowd including the Mayor. It was a lovely evening and they were very well received.
Monday, 17 July 1939

After a very busy morning, I went in afternoon with J. and Ivy to Ramsgate where both our Classical and Jazz played on the beautiful East Cliff Bandstand. There was a large crowd at first but just after they started it came down to rain heavily and the larger number dispersed. This was very fortunate as both bands played very badly, and I myself half way through the Jazz Orchestra went on the Bandstand to get them to put more pep into it.

We had Tea afterwards at Lyons and on returning to the Camp saw the leader of the Jazz Orchestra to make him completely reorganise his band which he agreed to it.

Found a lot of matters awaiting me, which made me rather sorry I had wasted my time at Ramsgate. We showed “Radio Parade” in our Cinema, and it proved a rotten picture, so ended a day of rotten performances.
Tuesday, 18 July 1939

I and J., were called over by the Jazz Band, who had been practicing since an early hour, and had completely rearranged their band. They played two numbers and it was a vast improvement. 

Not pleased with material coming in for next issue of Journal and devoted a lot of time to rewriting some of it. 

I had two telephone messages from London in connection with various matters.
Richborough camp, Some Victims, 1939 - musicians
Kitchener camp, Some Victims of the Nazi Terror, 1939 - musicians
Wednesday, 19 July 1939

Quite a number of Travellers call to see me these days trying to sell me goods for our Canteen, and it takes me back to the days when I “tried” to sell goods myself. If it is at all possible I always see them, remembering my own experience – but I now I know how annoying it is, when one is really busy to listen to a man discuss his goods you do not want and have no intention to buy.

We had a busy evening with Ping-Pong and Chess Tournaments against outside clubs and at 10p.m. a Motorist brought back a member of the Camp who had been knocked off his cycle by Charabanc. The front wheel of the cycle was completely damaged and the man had cuts on his face and hands and the Gentleman who brought him back said it was very lucky that he was not killed, it was a very close shave. He said the Charabanc party where drunk, and refused to bring the man back to the Camp. We have the number and will report the incident to the police.

Made a tour with the Night-Guard to see if all was O.K., and found not all huts quiet on the Western Front.
Thursday, 20 July 1939

Amongst my first callers today were three new men for my staff, who arrived on the last transport from Germany. One was a very famous Magician, another a Hypnotist, and the third a Journalist. The Magician already has a chance of appearing on the stage in England if I can get the Home Office permit. 

The film “Radio Parade” being quite useless to show again I `phoned to London to try and make other arrangements. 

Today was the Ramsgate Carnival which had invited us to decorate and send our Lorry to. This was well done and on it we put a Double Tier bed, with “Stample” [?] lying in the top bed, wearing a Night Cap and carrying a little umbrella. There was a group building a brick wall, and a bench with some of our musicians playing accordions. It was a very jolly entry and was received with much laughter and obvious delight by the huge crowd in Ramsgate that lined the route. There were many splendid and beautiful entries but I think ours was the best. I sat beside the driver and studied the faces of the crowd and I was amazed at the excellent reception we got.

[sketch of lorry with ‘Thanks to England’ written on the side]
From the archives of the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust, London, UK
With kind permission, from the archives of the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust, London, UK
Friday, 21 July 1939

Amongst my interviews today was another man who wishes me to arrange his Wedding. I shall certainly have to soon apply for the title of Marriage [###] of “The K.C. Camp.”. 

The day was much the same as other Fridays. The evening is notable for its quiet and peaceful atmosphere which it should be. 

In one week I have received 20 [?] appeals for help for the family’s of people living in such distant places as Shanghai, Cuba and New York, as they have indirectly heard of my doing a spot of work here.
Saturday, 22 July 1939

Excitement during the night as I learnt that a man was missing from the Camp, and J., had organised a search party to find him without success. He was a slight mental case and we feared he might have done himself in. I gave a description to the Police. At 4 pm in the afternoon he returned safely to the camp, and said he had spent the night sleeping in the fields, and had seen his comrades looking for him. He was mental without being dangerous. 

All the Honorary Officers of the United Synagogue have resigned, and Sir Robert Waley Cohen who was in Camp said good humouredly to me “You know I have resigned from the U.S., would you like my position?” and asked me if I preferred the Camp to the U.S...

We had a concert in the evening for “Music Lovers Only” and it was a really delightful concert greatly appreciated by the audience.

A special service was held for our Yahzeit for Mother. After the service I went round the Camp at 11 a.m. to see if everything was alright and outside one hut, a came upon a man heavily weeping and being consoled by his comrades – he had just received news that his Mother had died.
Kitchener camp 1939, Lothar Nelken, friends and colleagues
Sunday, 23 July 1939

Many visitors to the Camp including Frances and Mr Robinson. An amazing looking woman representing a syndicate of papers in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A. interviewed me re the Camp. She had flown from New York by ### in the “Clipper”. She had interviewed Dolphus the day before he was killed and has also interviewed Hitler. 

As it was not possible to show “Radio Parade” the big picture in the Cinema in the evening and as their are two performances at 7 and 9. I made up a Ciné-Variety Show, showing 2 Mickey’s Mouse, 2 news and 2 interest films, including a coloured one of the Holy-land. 

[###] stage turn was a Ping-Pong match against the two best players in Camp and a 3 Songs by Jeuman [?], the best singer in Camp. It made up a very nice and novel show for my clients.
Monday, 24 July 1939

J. unwell in morning and remained in bed. 

Went into Ramsgate in afternoon to see some `photos taken of our carnival entry. 

Supped in J’s flat, and after seeing Cinema started, took “N.C.O. Class” of the Palestine Brigade. 

Afterwards attended Services for Tish B’av and then welcomed a further 112 men from Vienna.

Arrivals: Eduard Elias

Tuesday, 25 July 1939

I now becoming a Regular Marriage Registrar. The Chief Rabbi’s Secretary has sent me a list of questions to ask the intended Bridegrooms. Amongst my first callers today where two who wished to get married. One wished to marry the divorced wife of a non-jew – I do not know the din – he wants to be married in Synagogue. Amongst my other callers today was Mr and Mrs Joshua Isaacs, he is the sexton of the United Synagogue and had already proved useful to us. 

Just as I sat down to supper a message was brought to me that the Earl of Whaincliffe wished to speak to me re a Concert. I found him to be a Earl of about 40 years, the true [?] type of whisky swilling [or smelling?] slightly dull and blearly who treated his wife and friend very off handly. He wanted some of our musicians to come and play at a cock-tail party he was arranging. After fixing details I showed him round the Camp, and if he is an example of the English aristocracy then no wonder they say its rotten.

I saw the film we are showing this week  “The Shape of things to come” but felt it was a good opportunity missed liked most British pictures. 

Afterwards corrected a manuscript submitted to me of the Review.
Richborough transit camp, Some Victims of the Nazi Terror, 1939 - communal mealtimes
Kitchener camp, Some Victims of the Nazi Terror, 1939 - communal mealtimes
Wednesday, 26 July 1939

Called at the residence with our Chief Musician at the noble, but sodding Earl. It is a old and small house cottage set back from the road, which they have rented for the Season, said the Butler. They come from Yorkshire. 

I addressed a Hut Leaders meeting and told them fairly “straight from the shoulders” what I thought on certain matters. 

Two of our Doctors leave the Camp this week and being the only English person at the “Dinner” I was in the Chair and spoke on behalf of my English Colleagues. 

During the day practically completed the “K.C. Review”. 

My bedroom has been repainted and looks much better.
Richborough transit camp, Some Victims, 1939 - there are 60 doctors in the camp
Kitchener camp, Some Victims, 1939 - there are 60 doctors in the camp
Thursday, 27 July 1939

Finished writing and typing of “K.C. Review” today. 

Two Mayor’s called to see me, re fixing up an entertainment for the Company of 500 men in Barracks at Canterbury. They were very charming men. 

I had several other callers including a woman with his [?] daughter who wished to sing to the Camp and whom I was pleased after hearing her not being able to “engage”. 

Took my Palestine Defence Company, they are really very good.

Saw a man breaking up a cigarette and rolling it into a smaller piece of grease paper. He told me that by doing that he got 10 cigarettes out of a 2d packet of 5, which was much better for him. He seemed otherwise quite normal.

Surveyed our new sports field and found it in very much better condition than I expected.

Arrivals: Georg Benjamin

Friday, 28 July 1939

Normal day, and at 9 pm. had a meeting of the Professional artistes in the Camp, The Magician showed me some very clever tricks. I am arranging for his appearance in a show at the J.L.B. Camp.
Saturday, 29 July 1939

A very busy day. 

In afternoon a show I had arranged to come down from London – rather a high-class concert – needed a lot of organising. 

Then is was a very hot day – the first for some time – and I had to do a lot of last minute whipping round to get a reasonable audience together. In the end all went off alright. 

That was during the afternoon – in the early evening our musicians went to play at the residence of the Earl of Whaincliffe and they tell me they were not very well treated and did not come away with a good opinion of the English aristocracy. 

In the evening we had another Variety Show which was very well received.
Sunday, 30 July 1939

First issue of Aug. K.C. Review ready. 

The daughter of Earnest Franklin visited the Camp and left a donation of 10/- 

A very fine day which ended in rain, many visitors in Camp. 

In morning 3 men came to see me about their marriages. 

In the evening the current was not on in the Cinema and had to climb ladder to help Electrician repair Cables.
Monday, 31 July 1939

A day of Straffing. I shall have to have armed guards outside my office, it is impossible to work, I am worried by a thousand and one requests, and it is impossible to concentrate on those of real importance.

---> Part IV