31 March 2016
‘I was a victim of Nazi Persecution during the war years, and was transported to Germany. I therefore wish to send you an applica
‘I was a victim of Nazi Persecution during the war years, and was transported to Germany. I therefore wish to send you an application form.’ So began the notes for wartime Guernsey policeman Thomas John Gaudion. His is just one of the first-hand accounts of suffering recorded in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Nazi Persecution Compensation case files now available to search in the reading rooms at The National Archives, Kew.
These case files are the result of the Anglo-German bi-lateral agreement - by which the German government allocated a million pounds to be paid to those with British nationality who had suffered persecution in a concentration camp (or comparable institution) under the Nazi regime.
There were 11 such national bi-lateral agreements, of which Israel, in 1952, was the first, and Sweden the last. The Anglo-German agreement was the second last compensation scheme.
Launched in 1964, the Anglo-German compensation scheme ran until 1996, during which time four thousand applications had been made for compensation. 1,015 of these were successful, of which 238 were paid to dependants of victims of persecution. The reasons for the relatively small number of successful claimants were that that the scheme did not apply to Prisoners of War (ie servicemen); and to qualify you had to be naturalised British before October 1953; and to have suffered persecution at the hands of the Nazis. The definition of ‘persecution’ was precisely defined.
Claimants include Tania Rosandic (daughter of British SEO agent Violette Szabo), Johanna Hill (arrested after her husband found out that the was hiding two British soldiers, and reported her to the Gestapo), and Percy Lobley (who was serving with the British Army’s Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps when he was captured; and imprisoned at Auschwitz then Dachau, as his captors assumed by his surname that he was of Jewish descent).
The case files store the correspondence between the claimants and the Foreign Office - from first enquiry, to final outcome as to whether or not the claim was successful. The quantity of paperwork per file varies but is fascinating, as victims outline their wartime experiences and legacy of suffering in their own words. Each case unique, but telling a terrible shared story.