Born: Zablotow, Ukraine, 6 September 1902
Profession in country of origin: Salesman
Arrived in Britain as a refugee from Vienna on 11 August 1939
Lieb Lazar set sail on Cunard’s SS Ville de Tamatave on 06 January 1943. It was part of Convoy ON 16, sailing under the command of Sir Henry John Studholme Brownrigg.
The convoy ran into a violent storm in the North Atlantic towards the evening of 23 January. Messages were received from the Ville de Tamatave indicating that she had lost her rudder and, an hour later, that she was sinking; the other ships were not able to render assistance, and Ville de Tamatave was lost with all hands on 24 January 1943.
As far as we know, Lieb Lazar has no surviving close family. However, in what follows below, we have an outline of his history in relation to Kitchener camp, which this family friend wished to share so that Lieb’s life is not forgotten.
In the photo I sent you with my father [Nuchim Kürschner] and his kitchen crew, the man to his right is, I believe, his Viennese friend, _____ Lazar. They all called each other by their last names. His Hebrew name was Aryeh. He, my father, Nuchim Kurschner, and Salomon Walter were roommates as single men in Vienna. Then they all married and had children.
Lazar and his wife had two boys, Ernst and Zvi (Hebrew name). My father had told me that Lazar was in Kitchener with him. My father came to the USA in spring 1940, before the US entered the war. Lazar, however, was due to come to the US by ship, with his wife and two boys, when my father received word that the ship had been torpedoed. This was probably in 1941. My father put up a memorial plaque for Lazar, his wife and two boys in his local synagogue. I have a photograph of the plaque [see image below].
What I would like to know is Mr Lazar’s first name and any information you have on him at Kitchener. My parents and I had been reunited by 1940, and I remember my parents’ hushed tones. I was probably six years old then.
Thank you for any help that you can provide.
Reply from the editor:
I have had a quick look for a man called * Lazar in Kitchener camp, and we are unusually fortunate in that there only seems to have been one man in Kitchener with this family name.
He was called Leib Lazar and appears in the1939 Register. This gives us his birth year – 1902. With this information, I have been able to find his ‘Exemption from Internment’ card
It would appear that Leib was in fact interned by the British government in summer 1940. He was released shortly afterwards in August 1940. If you would like to know more about the policy of internment in 1940, you might want to listen to the talk that has just been posted on the Kitchener website about this subject.
I have also looked through the passenger lists of refugees leaving for the USA. This is a little more difficult without a year of birth for his wife and sons – and without his wife’s name. I found one man called Leib Lazar who sailed for the USA on Cunard’s Ville de Tamatave. This gives an age, although not a date of birth. It is problematic because the age is wrong by one year. It may well not be ‘your’ Leib Lazar, but I am unable to find another Leib Lazar sailing to the US in the 1940s.
Interestingly, the Leib Lazar who was on that ship was indeed lost at sea. The ship was sunk with all lives lost, but not by a torpedo. It went down in a storm in January 1943.
The other curious thing about this is that the Leib Lazar on that ship is listed as travelling alone – so all in all, it doesn’t sound as though it is the same person. As I say, however, without more information about his wife and sons, it may be difficult to find out more about what happened to them.
Kitchener camp, Richborough, Nuchim Kürschner (right), Lieb Lazar (centre) Walter Solomon (left).
The family of Nuchim Kürschner believe this to be an image of Lieb Lazar – in the middle of the three long-term friends.
Lieb died on his passage to the USA in the 1940s; it is possible that his wife and children also perished on this voyage, or that they did not manage to leave in time.