Second Generation Voices


Second Generation Voices provides a unique space in the UK where Second and Third Generation people can write about their experiences and views of being descendants of refugees from or survivors of the Holocaust. The first issue was published in January 1996 to link together those who had attended two London conferences in 1994 and 1995. Voices has appeared in January, May and October every year since then. The Wiener Library in London has a collection of all issues of Voices, which are also sent to other institutions.

Early issues

Voices is produced entirely by volunteers, some of whom have journalistic experience. It has no funding other than members’ subscription fees, or fees for adverts. The Editorial Committee welcomes new members. If you are interested, contact any one of us to discuss how you may be able to work with us: to act as editor, writer, proofreader, envelope stuffer – as any or all of these!

Don’t be shy authors, send us your contribution now, see below how. If you are interested, contact any one of us to discuss.

CONTRIBUTE – express yourself in writing, prose or poetry or by drawing. Send your work to the Editor, Leonie Grayeff. The Editor, along with the Editorial Committee decides which items are included in each issue. Readers prefer articles to be no longer than two pages of Voices. We welcome photos or drawings, especially if they have good contrast, as Voices is published in black and white. Reviews of relevant plays, books, films, work or volunteer activities that may be of interest to our readers, are all welcome.

Here is a typical Voices article:

Shoebox Reveals the Fate of the Mother 07-10-2012
The article below is adapted from the original in the News section of the Bad Arolsen archive website  Family members of Nazi victims can contact the International Tracing Service there to request information about the fate of relative(s).

Shortly before her death, his mother Ruth Ibbitson pressed a shoebox into his hand. “You will decide what to do with it,” she told her son Ron. Ron, now aged 60, learned this way that his mother was part of a Kindertransport and thus was saved from being murdered by the Nazis. “At that time we knew virtually nothing about the background of our mother,” says Ron. Together with his brother Mark, Ron embarked on the search for clues that also led him to the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen [Germany].

The shoebox revealed travel documents for the Kindertransport from Germany to Britain in June 1939, the letter of a brother from Auschwitz and documents about her move to a new homeland. Aged 15, Ruth Peschel, as she was then called, escaped Germany just before the war began. “It was initially a shock to us. We knew only that she was German,” said Ron. “She very rarely talked about her childhood experiences, but never spoke about the atrocities against Jews. Only when she got older did she sometimes mention her Jewish relatives and said she wanted to return home.”

Ruth came from a Breslau family, deported by the Nazis. Many family members were murdered. Ruth’s brother, Emanuel Peschel died shortly before the war ended in April 1945 in Gusen camp, a sub-camp of Mauthausen, after he had survived the death marches from Auschwitz. Her grandmother, Regina Jacobowitz died in July 1943 in Theresienstadt. There was no trace of Ruth’s grandfather Isidore. Only Ruth’s parents, Helen and Otto Peschel survived.

They both returned to Germany, then later emigrated to Israel. Helen eventually returned to settle in her country of birth. “I can remember later visits to my grandmother in Munster,” says Mark, aged 48, youngest of nine grandchildren. “To me, she was an amazing lady, even though I didn’t understand her language.” For Ruth encounters with her past were not always easy however. “Our mother was a very anxious and overcautious woman,” recounts Ron. “Only now am I beginning to understand. One time we crossed the border into Germany and she went quiet for a long time after passport control. Another time she cried when we moved all her furniture outside for redecoration. It must have brought up bad memories.”

After her arrival in Harwich in June 1939, Ruth initially stayed for two weeks with a Jewish family before she began training at a farm school [Whittingehame, residence of the Earl of  Balfour] and was later in the British Army. Here she met her husband; they married in Leeds in 1947. “Our father was a strict Victorian. We children were all educated as he wished,” says Mark. “We had our confirmation and went to church every Sunday.” The children of the Holocaust survivor have not quite decided how they want to deal with their new-found Jewish identity. “I feel a little stuck in the middle,” admits Ron. “I have many Jewish friends now and feel more at home there.”
With thanks to Ron and Mark Ibbitson for giving permission for the above article to be reprinted.