Old letters of couple reveal underground network set up to help Jewish families escape Nazi rule

WION Web Team
London, United Kingdom Published: Dec 05, 2021, 11:14 PM(IST)

Old letters of couple reveal underground network set up to help Jewish families escape Nazi rule Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Later, Parker returned to Lancashire in 1935, and continued finding families who could take in Jewish families that were escaping the Nazi rule with the help of Max

 A 73-year-old woman who was recently sorting out the letters she had received from her parents as heirloom found details of an old, underground network established by anti-Nazis to help Jews.

Sisters, Frances Newell and Jan Newell, were aware that their late mother, Evelyn Parker, had taken part in some of the progressive causes during the second world war. However, they had not realised that their parents had helped set up such an important network.

Evelyn Parker used to often tell her children about the time she had spent in Berlin teaching English to children of the Jewish families. During that time, they had formed a strong friendship bond with a German couple, Max and Malwine Schindler.

Also read | How Twitter's new private media policy is being abused by anti-vaxxers

After their parents' death, Newell obtained a bundle of letters of her parents that she did not open till 2017. In those letters, the siblings found out details about an old, underground network that had been established by anti-Nazi activists to help Jewish families.

Their mother had received a letter from the German couple in 1934 who was asking for help after losing a job at the local council in Berlin district of Neukölln. Max, the man from Berlin, had been fired for his support of the Social Democratic party (SPD in German), which was blacklisted after the Nazis took hold in Germany.

Max had decided to set up an English-teaching school and library, which actually was a disguise of the SPD teachings. Through this, Max was sensing out students (anti-Nazi activists) out of Germany and to Britain.

Also read | From tiger at gender reveal party to a bear attack, here is a look at the top trending incidents of 2021

This disguise helped Jewish families escape the Nazi rules. Parker was usually introduced to these people as a visitor in social gatherings. "Here's this young English woman, they could say, 'we're showing her the sights, come meet her'," Frances says. "But there was an underlying story behind that – it was about resistance to the Nazis."

Later, Parker returned to Lancashire in 1935, and continued finding families who could take in Jewish families that were escaping the Nazi rule with the help of Max.

Frances spent more than 600 hours going through these letters to discover this underground and important network set up by her mother to help save Jewish families from the Nazi rule. "In those prewar years, they were so unbelievably optimistic. These are young people, they're full of joy and optimism. They really thought that they were going to make it, that the world was not going to take the path it did. That’s the great tragedy of it, the contrast of the early years and the tone of the latter years," Frances says.

"In reading the letters, you got such a sense of the Schindlers as individuals, as if you knew them ... It was very clear that Mum loved them," Jan said.

Read in App