Monday, May 10, 2021

‘I Seek a Kind Person’: The Guardian Ad That Saved My Jewish Father from the Nazis

THE GUARDIAN: In 1938, there was a surge of classified ads in this newspaper as parents – including my grandparents – scrambled to get their children out of the Reich. What became of the families?

On Wednesday 3 August 1938, a short advertisement appeared on the second page of the Manchester Guardian, under the title “Tuition”.

“I seek a kind person who will educate my intelligent Boy, aged 11, Viennese of good family,” the advert said, under the name Borger, giving the address of an apartment on Hintzerstrasse, in Vienna’s third district.

The small ad, costing a shilling a line, was placed by my grandparents, Leo and Erna. The 11-year-old boy was my father, Robert. It turned out to be the key to their survival and the reason I am here, nearly 83 years later, working at the newspaper that ran the ad.

In 1938, Jewish families under Nazi rule were scrambling to get their children out of the Reich. Newspaper advertisements were one avenue of escape. Scores of children were “advertised” in the pages of the Manchester Guardian, their virtues and skills extolled in brief, to fit the space.

The columns read as a clamour of urgent, competing voices, all pleading: “Take my child!” And people did. The classified ads – dense, often mundane notices that filled the front pages, and coffers, of the Guardian for more than 100 years – also helped save lives. » | Julian Borger | Thursday, May 6, 2021