The art of Hans Hermann Josephy

Hans Jackson: 17 February 1921 – 6 May 2012

Hans Hermann Josephy, or Hans Jackson as he was later known in Britain, was born in Berlin in 1921 to Richard Josephy and Klara (geboren Lachmann). His father owned two clothing shops (both called ‘Max Shöneberg’), running a successful business here until the National Socialists took power. On the day of the boycott of Jewish shops in April 1933, Hans returned home from school to find Brown Shirts shouting and displaying placards outside one of the family shops. They demanded protection payments over the next few years.

From 'Prelude to the Holocaust', by Hans Jackson resident of Kitchener camp
From ‘Prelude to the Holocaust’, by Hans Jackson, resident of Kitchener camp
With the kind permission of Allen Sternstein

Then, in an all-too familiar pattern, in 1935, Hans was expelled from the Friedrichs Real Gymnasium under the anti-Jewish legislation of the 1930s. He began an apprenticeship in carpentry at a Jewish trade school run by the Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden. Many of these trade schools were in operation across Germany at this time, as we have discussed elsewhere; the aim was to help young Jews find a job abroad, so that they would be able to emigrate.

For Hans, the scheme was successful: Poldi Kuh, director of the trade school, helped Hans to obtain a place at Kitchener camp in England in March 1939.

Hans was never to see his parents again, however; they were deported and killed in Riga.

In Britain, Hans initially helped with a BBC monitoring centre in Haig camp (adjacent to Kitchener), translating German short-wave radio signals for the War Office. He was working at this on the day German troops invaded the Netherlands in May 1940.

From ‘Kitchener Camp’ by Hans Jackson
With the kind permission of Allen Sternstein

Nevertheless, despite his contribution, Hans was deemed an Enemy Alien and was interned, initially on the Isle of Man. His situation was soon to become very much worse, however, as he took what sounded like a better opportunity and volunteered to board a ship, with many others in a similar situation, bound for Australia.

That ship, however, was HMT Dunera.

From ‘Dunera’ by Hans Jackson
With the kind permission of Allen Sternstein

Despite his treatment thus far, including further internment in Hay camp in Australia, along with many other Jewish refugees when given the chance, Hans volunteered to join the Pioneer Corps in October 1941. He was posted back to the UK, to Scotland, where he built stage sets for the Entertainment Corps, and around this time he also took courses in commercial art.

After the war, Hans gained British citizenship, married, and set up a successful graphic design business in Glasgow. By 1980, he was also studying fine art and painting.

Familiar to many Kitchener families, Hans did not really talk about the war years – in his case, until after his wife’s death in 1984. He then began to produce paintings of Glasgow, but also of his experiences before and during the war. He was commissioned for this work over time, and in 1987 moved to Golders Green, forming close ties with survivor communities and organisations such as the AJR.

On the 60th anniversary of the events of November 1938, the Beth Shalom Holocaust Memorial Centre established the Hans Jackson room, which exhibited his collection of work ‘Prelude to the Holocaust’.

From ‘Prelude to the Holocaust’ by Hans Jackson
With the kind permission of Allen Sternstein

A few weeks ago, Professor Clare Ungerson, whom many of you know as author of ‘the book’ on Kitchener camp (Four thousand lives: The rescue of German Jewish men to Britain in 1939), suggested that we should get in touch with Allen Sternstein. Allen is a nephew of Hans Jackson, and works hard with Holocaust education projects, loaning his uncle’s work out in order that a fuller understanding of the terrible events of the 1930s and 1940s might be gained.

On this weekend of Holocaust Remembrance, we are deeply honoured to announce that Allen has given permission for us to add his uncle’s work to this Kitchener camp collection.

Over the next few days and weeks, I will gradually add these images to this project, and I will also be carrying out further research on the life and work of Hans Jackson at the various archives where relevant materials are now held.

In remembrance of our families – the work of Hans Jackson


References for this blog post:

The Jewish Chronicle, Harold Hans Jackson, 10 August 2012, by Allen Sternstein; Harold Jackson, Personal Papers, EHRI portal, for the Wiener Library; Obituary – In Memory, The Dunera Association, by Allen Sternstein (