Holocaust Memorial Day: ‘Some were sent away by the British state and never returned’ William Kaczynski
William Kaczynski, 76, of Fairfax Road, Swiss Cottage, fled to England and helped set up one of Europe’s largest hat factories.
Mr Kaczynski fled Berlin with his family after the horrors of Kristallnacht.
“My brother suffered brain damage and is partially paralysed because my mother didn’t get proper medical attention because she was a Jew. Jews were considered worthless at that time.”
His father, who won the Iron Cross during the First World War, nonetheless spent time in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. “He would see 25 people die there every day. Fortunately because of his hat-making skills, which did not require the English language, he was given a work permit for England.” The family fled to England where they worked in the hat trade and Mr Kaczynski helped establish the largest hat factory in Europe. At the age of 20 he discovered envelopes and postal records that revealed the second exile many Jews had been subjected to by the British state, including his own family’s internment on the Isle of Man. “I discovered an envelope of my mother’s addressed to her on the Isle of Man from a cousin in Canada. I was shocked when I discovered this second exile and I was determined to find out more. “I found that those deemed aliens by the British state were sent as far away as Uganda, Mauritius, Jamaica and Cyprus. Some of them would never return.”
The “envelope” postal records project was sponsored by the British Library and forms the basis of a new book named Fleeing From The Fuhrer by Mr Kaczynski and Charmian Brinson.