Einhart Kawerau not a Nazi

Published in Issue 5 (September/October 2013), Letters, Volume 21

Sir,—I am writing to express my concern and shock at seeing my grandfather, Einhart Kawerau, listed in David O’Donoghue’s article ‘The Nazis in Irish universities’ (HI 15.5, Sept./Oct. 2007, pp 12–13; https://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/the-nazis-in-irish-universities/).
While Dr O’Donoghue limits himself to listing him as a German student in Ireland, his article implies that Einhart Kawerau participated in the German Academic Exchange Service (GAES), and was thereby associated with the Nazi party (NSDAP), receiving funding and travel expenses, which required membership of the party ‘most of the time’. As a steward of my family history, I am in possession of documented proof that he was not a Nazi, nor was he a Nazi supporter. My grandfather’s time in Ireland was spent in exile as a refugee, not as part of the NSDAP exchange programme.

Einhart’s home was raided by the Nazis in 1933, followed by the arrest on 19 March 1933 of his father, Dr Siegfried Kawerau, who was then tortured by the SA. Dr Kawerau was imprisoned as a political prisoner in the Stettin concentration camp; as a result of his treatment at the hands of the Nazis he died on 17 December 1936 while in exile in the north of Poland. After the raid, his son Einhart fled Germany, first for England with his brother Sigurd, arriving on 24 April 1934. According to my grandfather’s letters, he obtained a scholarship from the Sir Richard Stapley Educational Trust (value of £53 per annum) with the help of Dr G.P. Gooch. The trust was applicable at any English school in England, Scotland and Ireland. He could not find a school that would admit him in England or Scotland, as both had already filled their quota of foreign students. He then went to Ireland after finding a school that would accept him.

Before Einhart attended Trinity College in Dublin, he and Sigurd attended a school in Newtown Park, Waterford, run by the Irish Society of Friends, who provided succour to refugees from Germany, both Jews and non-Jews. My family would very much appreciate the record being set straight on these points; until his name is vindicated, the association of our relative with the Nazis in this way will continue to cause us grief. My grandfather, were he alive, would undoubtedly share our feelings.—Yours etc.,
Vancouver, Canada

I am grateful to David Repa for providing details of his grandfather Einhart Kawerau’s life in the 1930s. Nowhere in my 2007 article have I claimed that Einhart Kawerau was at any time a member of the German Nazi party (NSDAP). I did state, correctly, that ‘most German students heading for Ireland were obliged to join the NSDAP’. Mr Repa says that I listed his grandfather as ‘a German student in Ireland’, which I did not. The archival material I worked from refers to Einhart Kawerau as an ‘exchange lecturer’ at Trinity College, Dublin. I regret that the word ‘exchange’, in this context, may have given the mistaken impression (wholly unintended) that Einhart Kawerau was associated with the Nazis in any way. I trust this clarifies the position and I am happy to accept Mr Repa’s version of events. I wish to apologise for any misconception that may have arisen as a result of my 2007 article.—Yours etc.,


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