Ilse Murray Collection

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 151343
1 Jan 1945 - 31 Jan 2010
Level of Description
EHRI Partner


Biographical History

The youngest of three children of a Jewish-German family, Ilse Perl (1921-2010) was born in Bismarckhütte (Chorzów), Silesia, to Elise neé Nicklas and Selmar Perl. After her mother's early passing she was raised by her uncle Salo and his daughters Minna and Selma Schlesinger in Gleiwitz (Gliwice).

Upon moving to Berlin, Ilse gave birth to her son Klaus Perl (later Claus Nicholas Perl, 1938-2004). She trained as a nurse and worked in the Jewish Hospital Berlin. In 1942 she married Dagobert Lewin (later Bert Lewyn), a young metal worker whose parents had recently been deported.

Ilse, Claus and Dagobert went into hiding in 1943. They survived with the help of non-Jewish friends until a then pregnant Ilse and Claus were eventually caught. Both were brought to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in January 1945.

Shortly after liberation, Ilse gave birth to Gad Lewin, who died within a few months. Upon recovery, Ilse worked as secretary for the American Joint Distribution Committee in Bergen-Belsen DP Camp. She and Claus befriended British Red Cross workers Irene England and Enid Fordham, Jewish Relief Unit officer Alice Redlich and survivor Hans (John) Fink, and future politician Greville Janner.

Ilse and Dagobert divorced in 1947, and Ilse married British soldier Harold Murray with whom she moved to England that year. Claus stayed behind in a Jewish Children’s Home in Lüneburg at first but followed his mother in early 1949.

Upon settling with Harold in Greater London, Ilse worked as a stock records clerk. Claus served in the British Army and worked various jobs later on. He married and became a proud father of two.

Archival History

The materials in this collection were gathered by Ilse Murray neé Perl. It is uncertain when and under which circumstances she received the papers of acquainted Enid Fordham. Upon Ilse's passing, her grandchildren kept these materials and donated them to The Wiener Holocaust Library in 2022, as previously suggested by Ilse.


Donated 28 February 2022

Donor: Perl, Gary

Scope and Content

The collection consists of personal papers of Holocaust survivors Ilse Murray neé Perl and her son Claus Nicholas Perl as well as of Red Cross worker Enid Fordham.

Biographical materials of Ilse and Claus comprise official documents and eyewitness accounts, and allow insights into their persecution and imprisonment in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Included is an audio recording of Ilse Murray on her experiences during the Nazi era.

A large bulk of post-war correspondence documents the respective compensation cases of Ilse and Claus against West Germany. A smaller part consists of personal correspondence with other survivors and friends. Photographs and images show Ilse and Claus in Bergen-Belsen DP Camp and their family life in the UK.

Preserved Enid Fordham materials mainly contain eyewitness accounts of Holocaust survivors and a photo album depicting British Red Cross work in liberated Bergen-Belsen camp.

System of Arrangement

Material organised by provenance and document type. Lowest description levels arranged chronologically each.

Conditions Governing Access

Partially closed

Related Units of Description



This description is derived directly from structured data provided to EHRI by a partner institution. This collection holding institution considers this description as an accurate reflection of the archival holdings to which it refers at the moment of data transfer.