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Papers of Dr Marie Rosenberg, one-time internee in Rushen Camp

Date(s): 1932-1944

Creator(s): various

Scope & Content: Contents comprise birth and driving licence certificates, academic qualifications, correspondence and testimonials regarding attempts to secure naturalisation papers and from colleagues during internment including the Freshwater Biological Association of the British Empire (1937-1942), distinguished botanist at Birkbeck College Dame Helen Gwynne-Vaughan, 1939-1943); circular information distributed by the Austrian Centre, Association of Austrians in Great Britain (Free Austrian Movement), 1942, biographical notes including within an application for the research fellowship offered by the council of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford (January 1942), photographs of Marie, occasionally pictured with others (1936-1942), a St John Ambulance Association First Aid training certificate (Hawkshead, July 1938), two postcards of Manx scenes.

A Service Exchange cashbook compiled by Marie in Cambridge between 11 March and 20 December 1941 contains details of the types of objects being sold in Cambridge, including shell necklaces, macramé belts, raffia animals and hats. Also present is a typescript draft of an article by Ruth Borchardt post release about the exchange together with a contemporary typescript appeal for volunteers to contribute to the exchange in named crafts and skills - this has a handwritten ink annotation by Ruth 'You may prefer to insert this, unless it is too long', revealing it was intended for the published piece on the exchange which made it into print in 1943, published by the Society of Friends in 1943. For Marie Rosenberg's copy of this booklet see B.115/BOR (M 45789). One page typescript appeal entitled 'Service Exchange' introduces the scheme, ' As there is no prospect of paid work to be obtained for us under the present troubled circumstances, we are setting up a self-help organisation, the Service Exchange, with the consent of the Commandant'. Payment is to be made in service tokens and will be accepted as payment in the Camp Library for shows and concerts, for the services to be set up and for goods to be manufactured. Orders for services paid in cash are 'highly welcome. Customers are asked to call at the office to have prices quoted'. Responses are invited at the office, Hydro Cottage within stated times of the day.

'Der Pfingstbote', Sylvester-Zeiting 1940 typescript magazine/newspaper (7 pages) produced by those in Bradda section of Rushen Camp (mostly in German, one article in English); script for 'Der Bose Geist Lumpazivagaundus oder das Liederliche Kleeblatt. Zauberposse mit Gesang in drie Aufzugen (possibly performed in the camp; action set in Ulm, Prague and Vienna).

Letters from former internees such as Minna Specht, Herts, 19 Oct 1941 (from Prussia, she led the teachers in Rushen Camp; released 1 Aug 1941), Dr Margaret Bursik 19 Feb 1942, two to 'Marulla' from Ruth Borchard (March 1947; Sept 1949); letter of condolence to Marie's widower and daughter from Beatrice Sharples (nee Goldschmidt) recalling Marie in Rushen Camp, 'My first memories of her go back to the time when I was a little girl in Port Erin, on the Isle of Man, where we were interned during the early days of the war. The men were in a camp in another part of the island and the women and children were in Port Erin. It was an anxious and unsettled time for everyone and I can remember how Mrs Burton helped to organise weaving and other handicraft classes so that people could get together and help to make the time pass more pleasantly. I carry in my mind a picture of her, in a lovely flowered dress, coming up the hill to the craft centre, radiating a cheerfulness that raised everyone's spirits.'

Poem written at Wray Castle to mark Marie's release in 1941 (held due to 'celebrated British phlegm/In times of stress deserted them/They got into a panic/And gathered in the high and low ...'; biographical notes by daughter Agneta Burton, 2023 and botany related printed matter with mention of Marie.

Administration / Biographical History: Dr Marie Rosenberg (also referred to as Maria Amalia/Marulla/Murielle and Rosie in paperwork) was born in Vienna, Austria on 8 July 1907. She studied botany, zoology and philosophy at the University of Vienna from 1926, earning her doctorate in 1930. Between 1930 and 1932 she held a post in the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut fur Biologie, Berlin-Dahlem and from 1932 at the University of Berlin - in 1933 she was dismissed by the Nazi Government on racial grounds. On moving to England in October 1933 supported by The Society for the Protection of Science and Learning (Secretary Esther/Tess Simpson) Marie obtained research work in London until 1935 and then a research studentship (1935-1937) and post of Assistant Naturalist on the scientific staff of the Freshwater Biological Association, 1937-1943, based pre-war at its laboratory at Wray Castle, Ambleside, Lake District on the banks of Windermere.

As an Austrian subject Marie applied for naturalization in November 1938 but the application was not processed speedily. From her Alien Registration Card we learn that she visited the Island as a free woman from 20 November 1939 staying care of Mrs T L Delaney at 39 Daltry House, Bradda W. Road, Port Erin until 11 December 1939 (leaving for Wray Castle, Ambleside, Westmoreland). In June 1940 when North Lancashire was declared a protected area she was interned despite being previously classified as a category C alien and exempted from internment at a Preston tribunal in late October 1939.

Marie arrived in Rushen Camp, Port Erin, Isle of Man on 18 July 1940 and was based at Bradda, Port Erin (internee no. 2896). It is believed she worked at the marine biological station in Port Erin and became a close friend of Ruth Borchard, one of the founder members of the Service Exchange which operated in the camp. Under the exchange work receipts, ‘service tokens’, were exchanged for goods or services. Essentially an artificial economy was established to provide internees with an income. These tokens were made from cutting up thousands of cornflake boxes and putting their rubber stamp on. At its height the Exchange employed over a thousand women, from occasional jobs to full time. By winter 1940 the rationing of material together with the increasing release of internees meant the scheme was unsustainable, and was finally liquidated in November 1941.

Marie was released on 14 January 1941, but as a Category C ‘enemy alien’ was not able to return to Wray Castle; instead she was permitted to continue as an employee of the Freshwater Biological Association though based in Cambridge (The Botany School). Whilst in Cambridge, she and a number of fellow released internees continued to operate the Service Exchange, seemingly bringing with them materials made in Rushen Camp to sell in Cambridge. We can see from Marie's handwritten ‘Service Exchange Cash Book – Cambridge March 11 1941’ that she paid off the money she owed for her cardigan (2023-0044/1) whilst in Cambridge.

In July 1942 Marie married William Glynn Burton, also a botanist, working at the Low Temperature Research Station (LTRS) in Cambridge in a 'protected occupation'. They had a daughter Agneta in 1948.

Following the relocation of a section of LTRS to Kent, the family lived in East Malling. Marie did not have opportunities to continue algal research but taught, part -time, biology to External London degree students and some advanced school biology. She carried out a lot of local voluntary work especially with the WVS/WRVS and maintained her enjoyment of art, music and singing throughout her life

Marie died in East Malling in January 1982.

Language: English, German

Extent: 2 folders

Collection: Manuscript Archive

Level: FONDS

ID number: MS 15383

Record class: Private

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