Herbert Löwit Papers

Biographical Note

Herbert Löwit was born in Teplitz (now Teplice) in north-western Bohemia (Czechoslovakia), and spent his formative years in Reichenberg (now Liberec). He was a member of the socialist youth group, the 'Rote Falken' and his family were active members of the Deutsche Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei in der Tschechoslowakischen Republik (DSAP). They were also Jewish. When German troops occupied the Czechoslovakian borderlands in 1938, the family fled to England as political refugees, where they joined the Treuegemeinschaft Sudetendeutscher Sozialdemokraten, the exile social democratic successor organisation of the DSAP founded by Wenzel Jaksch. Löwit spent 1939 in Brook Lodge refugee camp in Surrey and later completed his education at Kingston Day Commercial school. His father, Karl Löwit, found work in Mirfield, Yorkshire, and the family moved there for the duration of the war, but in 1941 Löwit joined the Czechoslovak Independent Brigade in 1941 and remained with it until he was de-mobbed in 1945. In May 1945 he played a key role in the surrender of Dunkirk, which had been besieged since August 1944 by the Czech Independent Brigade. Löwit's fluency in German, Czech and English allowed him to act as the telephone link between the headquarters of the Germans and the Czechs. Löwit worked briefly in Czechoslovakia after the war but, after marrying another Czech-German refugee, Theresie Schneider, he settled in England.  He worked as German teacher in adult education and also for a number of commercial firms run by exiles.

The Papers

The archive consists of a relatively small amount of material (less than half a box) created by German-Czech exile Karl Löwit and his son Herbert Löwit, which includes personal correspondence and research notes and copies of published articles by Löwit. The majority of the collection consists of the papers accumulated by Josef Schneider, an official of the Internationaler Metallarbeiterverband from the German-Czech borderlands, who came to the UK as a political exile. His papers include correspondence with Josef Ladig, Josef Lenk, Josef Zinner, Wenzel Jaksch, Karl Werner and Fanni Blatny, all of whom had originally been involved in the German-Czech trade union movement and/or the Deutsche Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei in der Tschechoslowakischen Republik (DSAP) prior to going into exile. As well as the correspondence there are memoranda, declarations and resolutions passed by the successor parties to the DSAP (the Treuegemeinschaft and the Auslandsgruppe) and the trade unions in exile.The main subject matter of these papers is the split of the so-called Zinnergruppe from the Treuegemeinschaft Sudetendeutscher Sozialdemokraten in 1940 in the UK and in 1942 in Sweden, and the related issue of the fate of the Sudeten Germans after the Second World War.

Archival Arrangement

HL 1 Correspondence to and from Karl Löwit, Herbert Löwit and Others
HL 2 Research Notes and Articles by Herbert Löwit
HL 3 Personal and Miscellaneous Items of the Löwit Family
HL 4 Papers of Josef Schneider
HL 4/1 Correspondence to and from Josef Schneider
HL 4/2 Correspondence relating to other Members of the Deutsche Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei  in der Tschechoslowakischen Republik (Auslandsgruppe)
HL 4/3 Other Papers relating to the Deutsche Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei in der Tschechoslowakischen Republik (Auslandsgruppe)