Glauber family photographs courtesy of Antony
Kurt is not commemorated on the war memorial at Christchurch Park.
Born: 23rd December 1902, Vienna, Austria.
Died: Between the 1st – 30th April 1945; age: 42; brutalised and killed at Mauthausen Concentration Camp, Vienna, Austria.
Residence: 277, Norwich Road, Ipswich.
Occupation: a Solicitor.
Occupation in Ipswich: a Trainee at the Tower Mill Steam Laundry, Bramford Road, Ipswich.
Enlisted: January 1940.
A decision at a tribunal held on the 11th December 1939, by the Norfolk and Suffolk District, found that Kurt, a male enemy alien was to be exempt from internment. Kurt a Jewish Refugee from Nazi oppression was strongly anti-Nazi and could be safely regarded as a friendly alien. Kurt recorded that he did not wish to be repatriated.
Rank: Sergeant; service number: 13800998.
Regiment: Royal Artillery, Searchlight Training Regiment, 220 Light Anti Aircraft Training Regiment.
Panel 2. Column 3.
Father: Friedrich Glauber. A Viennese Transport Contractor.
Mother: Ernestine Glauber (nee Rubinstein), born 12th December 1881, Vienna. In 1939, Ernestine, a widow, was a refugee residing at Castle Inn, Hurst, Berkshire. At a tribunal held on the 27th October 1939, the decision was made that Ernestine was to be exempt from internment. She recorded that she did not wish to be repatriated. Ernestine died 1962, Kensington, London.
Brother: Gerhard Ignaz Glauber, born 18th August 1906, Vienna. Before the war, Gerhard fled to Palestine. He waded ashore at Netanya which was then a fishing village with a population of 400. He lived there for the rest of his life.
Sister: Lucile Maria Japhet, born 4th January 1909, Vienna. Lucile arrived in England in 1937, she married Percy Walter Japhet, born March 1907, Johannesburg, South Africa. Lucile and Percy had one son.
ENGLAND & WALES REGISTER 1939
Kurt was a Laundry Trainee at the Tower Mill Steam Laundry. He was one of two lodgers of recently widowed Mrs. Helen Barber at her family home – 277, Norwich Road, Ipswich.
Helen Margaret Barber (nee Hawkes), unpaid Domestic Duties, born July 1887, Easton, Norfolk,
Peggy Isabel Barber, a Shorthand Typist, born July 1919, Ipswich.
James Alexander Hugh Bracken, a Custom & Excise Officer, born October 1919, West Ham, Essex.
A FAMILY NOTE: – Kurt Glauber was my uncle so I have been fascinated (and very impressed!) by your research. I was born 6 months before the outbreak of war so was still young when he died. But I do remember him and can perhaps add one or two things. I can’t throw any light on how my uncle found himself in Ipswich but he was obviously not qualified to practice law in England. I don’t believe that he was recruited by MI5 but rather that he volunteered. Because he was blonde with blue eyes he did not look Jewish and of course, he had a lot of friends he could trust in Vienna. It was just tragic that the woman at whose flat they met every Friday evening turned out to be a double agent so all of the British agents walked into a Gestapo trap. By the way, the woman was caught and hanged by other allied agents soon afterwards. We have no details of his imprisonment but were told that he was executed about a week before the end of the war when Hitler gave the order to execute all parachutists. – Antony, April 2023.
31st January 1940, one week after enlisting. Kurt is seated extreme left.
Kurt with his sister, Lucile, his mother, Ernestine and young nephew, Antony.
1909 – 6 year old Kurt with his brother Gerhard aged 2.
Research by Mrs. Rachel Field
Dr Kurt Erich Glauber: an unsung Ipswich hero
At the beginning of the war, there were about 20 Jewish refugees living in Ipswich, at least six of whom were from Vienna, including a 37 year old lawyer called Kurt Glauber. The armed forces of Nazi Germany had marched triumphantly into Austria in March 1938, hailed as heroes by many local people and unopposed by the Austrian military. Very soon after this, many Viennese Jews had their property confiscated and over 700 Jewish lawyers, including (presumably) Kurt Glauber, were banned from practising in the city. The Glauber family was torn apart. His father, the owner of a successful freight forwarding company, was dead, his brother had escaped to Palestine, and his mother and sister fled to London. Kurt, a graduate of Vienna University and by now a lawyer practising in a smart part of Vienna, ended up in Ipswich.
When he arrived in Ipswich, the resident Jewish community was tiny and it is unclear whether any of the refugees then sheltering in the town knew or associated with each other. Nor do we know who sponsored Kurt to come to Ipswich, or who found him somewhere to live or work. We do know that he lived with the Barber family at 277 Norwich Road, maybe simply as a lodger helping the recently widowed Mrs Barber to boost her family’s income. But it is possible that she was more actively committed to helping refugees. The house is now a vaping shop called ‘What’s Ya Flava’! . Kurt was employed as a ‘trainee’ at the Tower Mill Steam Laundry in Bramford Road – a far cry from his former profession.
In the spring of 1940, the British authorities decided that refugees, even Jews escaping Nazi persecution, were a potential threat to domestic security. Many were arrested and interned for some months on the Isle of Man. It is not known yet whether Kurt was included in this round-up, but there is no reason to suppose that he was not. We do know, though, that he joined the Pioneer Corps in 1941. This was a non-fighting army unit, open to refugees, in which men did essential but unskilled work, such as guarding bases, laying track, and so on. And then, in 1943, the government decided to allow refugees to join fighting units. Glauber promptly did so. The official record shows that he joined the Royal Artillery. As it turned out, however, this proved to be a cover story, for, in reality, Dr Glauber was recruited by MI6 to work as a secret agent.
Kurt was somehow smuggled back into Vienna by the British on a deadly secret mission. One source claims that, by 1944/1945, he was investigating and reporting on factories where Nazis were thought to be developing nuclear weapons. During that time, he was being hidden by sisters Daniza and Rada Illitsch in their apartment. Daniza was a famous operatic soprano, a great favourite with Viennese audiences for many years. Although she was not Jewish, she was later acknowledged to have been an active anti-Nazi, as were several of her fellow musicians at the Vienna Opera House.
Tragically, Glauber was picked up in early 1945 by the Gestapo, betrayed by a woman who had been letting British agents use her lodgings as a safe meeting house. The Illitsch sisters were also immediately arrested and taken to a concentration camp. They were eventually freed when the camp was liberated a few months later by the Russian army at the end of April 1945.
As for Kurt Glauber, he was held in Vienna and put under pressure to use his secret radio to send false intelligence back to MI6. He refused to cooperate, so was taken to Mauthausen concentration camp in the spring of 1945. He was particularly harshly treated for being both a British agent and a Jew. A camp medic promised to help him get admitted to the infirmary, but we don’t know if this happened. What is clear, though, is that Kurt died sometime in April 1945. Had he been admitted to the infirmary, he would probably not have survived as the SS murdered nearly 3,000 prisoners from the hospital in a single day, on 20 April 1945. A few weeks later, at the beginning of May, the camp was liberated by American troops.
After the war, Kurt Glauber was posthumously awarded the King’s Commendation for Brave Conduct. He is commemorated at Brookwood Cemetery (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) in Surrey in a section reserved for servicemen such as ‘special agents who died as prisoners or while working with Allied underground movements’. There is no commemoration (yet) in Ipswich.
September 2023 On Wednesday, 13th September 2023, at Ipswich Old Cemetery, IP4 4AL, a headstone memorial was dedicated and unveiled to commemorate Dr. Kurt Erich Glauber.
Video courtesy of James Baker.
This event was kindly led by Rabbi Geoffrey Hyman, of the Southend and Westcliff Hebrew Congregation and held under the auspices of The Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation – JASHP, The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women – AJEX, and the Ipswich War Memorial Project – IWMP
The headstone memorial was unveiled by Dr. Kurt Glauber’s nephew and great-niece in the presence of His Excellency H.E. Bernhard Wrabetz, Ambassador of the Republic of Austria to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Deputy Lieutenant of Suffolk, the Mayor of Ipswich Cllr. Lynn Mortimer, Mrs. Rachel Field and other distinguished guests. The event commenced at 3 p.m. with prayers, unveiling, the last post, 2-minute silence, laying of wreaths and spoken tributes from IWMP, AJEX, JASHP, Rabbi Hyman, and Tony Japhet (words below)
A vote of thanks was given by the Austrian Ambassador, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant. A presentation of flowers was given to Rachel Field for her discovery.
Following the service, an afternoon tea reception was held at the Mayor’s Parlour, hosted by the Mayor Cllr. Lynn Mortimer and IWMP.
The service was well attended, with RBL standards, a bugler and a piper, BBC, ITV television, BBC digital, BBC Radio, East Anglian Daily Times, and Ipswich Star newspapers.