2.2 Family

Walter Zweig's small bag of soil
Walter Zweig: ["Soil from the grave of my dear Mother"], c. 1938. // In 1938 the lawyer Walter Zweig took a small bag of soil from his mother's grave in Upper Silesia with him into exile in Kenya. Even after Zweig returned to Germany, the bag retained its function. The grave lay in Poland, to return there was no longer possible.

German Exile Archive 1933–1945 of the German National Library, SplNL Stefanie Zweig, EB 2016/004, thanks to Walter Zweig and family, Photograph: Anja Jahn Photography

2.2 Family

For families, exile often meant separation. In many cases bureaucratic regulations made it impossible for all family members to go into exile together or to move to the same country. Special aid programmes helped some families to send children to countries that were not open to their parents. Graves and other places of remembrance remained behind; nobody knew if they would ever be able to return. 

For the many families who ended up spread over different countries, letter writing became the only means of obtaining information and staying in contact. Communication became increasingly difficult with the onset of war. Yet even during the war, many continued to receive news – in an encrypted form or via an indirect route – of successful escapes, but also of the deportation of relatives to concentration camps.