Alice Goldberger papers
Alice Goldberger (1897-1986) was born in Berlin, Germany. She was trained as a youth-work instructor and became the head of a state run shelter for disadvantaged children and their families. When Hitler came to power, Alice being Jewish, was forced to give up her post. She immigrated to England in 1939, on one of the last boats out of Europe. When war broke out, Alice was interned on the Isle of Man as an enemy alien. She set about organizing a nursery school for the children of the internees, and involved the parents in making equipment and toys. The success of this venture was reported in the daily newspaper, and when Anna Freud, psychoanalyst and daughter of Sigmund Freud, read the account she decided that Alice was the right person to run her residential wartime nursery. Through Anna’s intervention, Alice was released and became the superintendent of the country-house nursery for the children of working war-time mothers. Later, she joined the first Training Course of the Hampstead Child-Therapy Clinic (now the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families). In 1945, after the end of the war and the liberation of the concentration camps, the Central British Fund brought child survivors, some still infants, from Europe to England. Authorized to bring 1000 children, the Fund could only find 732. Some of these children were given to the care of Alice. She had lost her entire family in the Holocaust and was eager to assist. By the end of 1945, Alice and the children moved into a large estate in the Lingfield, Surrey region, donated by Sir Benjamin Drage, and named Weir Courtney. Alice became mother, caretaker, advocate, and teacher to the 24 refugee children who lived at Weir Courtney, some as young as four years old. She worked diligently to get the children adopted into foster homes or reunited with living family members. Some of the children had spent the war in hiding, the rest had been in concentration camps including Auschwitz, Ravensbrück, and Theresienstadt. Several of the children had survived because they had been Mengele’s medical experiment subjects. In 1948, when some of the older children had left, Alice and the remaining children moved to London and settled in Lingfield House, where they remained until all the children had come of age and could live on their own. Alice was honored on the “This is Your Life” television program in 1978, where she was reunited with the children, many of whom she had not seen in 30 years. Alice passed away at age 89 in 1986.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Judith Sherman
Judith Singer Sherman donated the Alice Goldberger papers to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2007 and 2013. Sherman was one of the children Goldberger cared for at Weir Courtney and Lingfield House.
The Alice Goldberger papers include biographical materials documenting Alice Goldberger and one of her staff members, Martha (Manna) Friedmann; correspondence, photograph albums, and reports documenting the work of Weir Courtney and the Lingfield House as well as the lives of child Holocaust survivors who lived there; and an extensive collection of the children’s artwork. Biographical material consists of honors, obituaries, memories, and tributes honoring Alice Goldberger and her work for the children of Weir Courtney and Lingfield house and Martha (Manna) Friedmann, a staff member at Weir Courtney. Correspondence includes selected letters from some of the children of Weir Courtney including Mirjam, Zdenka, Denny, Judith, and Tanja to Alice Goldberger, a letter from an adoptive parents describing how well her adopted child is adjusting, and letters documenting the reunion of Lilian and Andra Bucci with their mother in 1946. The photograph albums series includes three albums. The first documents the children of Weir Courtney and depicts the estate, Alice Goldberger, child survivors of the Holocaust including Eva, Hanka, Mirjam, Zdenka, Vicky, Sylvia, Judith, Liliana, Andra, Asta, Renate, Denny, Tanya, Dora, a staff member named Sophie, and a dog named Teddy. The album also includes later photographs of Judith and Mirjam Stern and their children. The second album documents the rooms and activities at Weir Courtney home through photographs and poetry. The third album documents Alice Goldberger’s 1978 appearance on the British television show “This is Your Life” and the grown children she aided at Weir Courtney and Lingfield House. Reports primarily consist of messages from the Weir Courtney and Lingfield house staff to Americans participating in “Foster Parent” program providing financial assistance to the children’s homes. The monthly reports describe daily life at the homes, provide thoughtful and personal details about the children’s histories, and offer updates on the challenges and achievements of individual children. The reports provide details about children named Andra, Asta, Avigdor, Bella, Berli, Charles, Denny, Erwin, Eva, Freddy, Fritz, Gadi, Gittel, Hanka, Hedi, Judith, Julius, Liliana, Lizzi, Magda, Margot, Milly, Mirjam, Peter, Rachel, Renate, Ruth, Sylvia, Tanja, Traute, Vicky, Zdenka. Lingfield House Reports provide updates about the home as well as fundraising and committee information. A 1977 report provides updates about Charles, Denny, Dora, Elsa, Eva, Fritz, Hanka, Hedi, Judith, Magda, Mirjam, Sylvia, Tanja, Vicky, Zdenka as adults. Works by children primarily include artwork by children at Weir Courtney and Lingfield House. Artwork includes a green binder the children created for Alice Goldberger’s birthday in 1951, a string-bound album of children’s drawings, a ribbon-bound folio of drawings and poems addressed to Alice, handmade pamphlets of drawings, and more than one hundred loose drawings and paintings. This series also include a folder of poems and songs by the children, many of which are illustrated, and certificates documenting trees planted in Israel in the name of the children. Much of the creative work is unattributed, but there are creations signed by Berli, Charles Kersler, Claus, Denny, Ervin Bogner, Eva Traub, other Eva, Fritz, Hanka, Hedi, Judith Singer, Judith Stern, Juliet, Marie, Mirjam Stern, Norbert, Pauline, Peter, Rachel, Ruth Kamaryth, Sylvia, Tanja, Usha, Vicky, and Zdenka.
The Alice Goldberger papers are arranged as five series: Series 1: Biographical materials, approximately 1969-2013 Series 2: Correspondence, approximately 1946-1982 Series 3: Photograph albums, 1945-1978 Series 4: Reports, 1945-1977 Series 5: Work by children, approximately 1945-1957