Tuesday 18 December 2018

Renate’s Passport

We’re very excited to have found Renate’s passport. It has various stamps on it that show her movements. 

It was originally granted on 17 July 1936. There is an Italian stamp for 31 of July 1936.  This is the famous journey to Italy which created the need for the passport. Remember her father had a massive row with the officials over that passport and this was all because she was christened wrongly. Her name should have been Renata Clara and she became Klara Renate. In the end he was told to go and get her an adult passport and this may have really helped her to get out of Germany when she needed to.  

The passport was valid until 17 July 1941. By that time she was living in England.   

There are several stamps up to 1938- showing that she was well off enough to travel and that travel was reasonably easy even though everything was getting difficult in Europe, especially for Jews. Quite chilling are the swastikas on the German border stamps. 

There are transit visas for Switzerland and France. Her French visa allows her a stay of up to fifteen days. Presumably this is to cover any hold-up on the journey.  

Her English visa shows that she was permitted to land in Dover on 31 January 1939. This is a little puzzling. Her own account has her leaving Germany 28 January. Was this memory not working properly or would it have taken that long in those days? Or perhaps she was fictionalising her account. The visa was for twelve months. She stayed in the UK for the rest of her life, and became English in 1947. This passport could have confirmed dates for her.  

In the passport we can also see some money transactions. In December 1938 she bought 400 Swiss francs. We can only assume that this was an easy currency to use when obtaining sterling may have been difficult. This was worth about £32.00 then, getting on for the £50.00 needed for the Kindertransport. That £50.00 is the equivalent of £3,000 today. There is also an exchange of ten Reichmarks for approximately ten French francs which presumably were used to buy the French transit visa.     

Wednesday 21 November 2018

The V2 Engineer

Hans Edler worked with other scientists on the V 2 bomb. No one scientist / engineer can be blamed for its creation.  

The doodlebug:

The forerunner of the V 2, the V 1, was also known as the doodlebug. These were powered by diesel and only landed when they ran out of fuel. It sounded like a bus or lorry running down the hill out of control. You worried when it went quiet; that was when it would fall to the ground and discharge its bomb. The V2 was more accurate with its targets and was much quieter.

Some interesting statistics:

About 2,700 people were killed in Britain by the V2.
At least 20,000 people died constructing the V2.   
The Manhattan (development of the nuclear bomb) project cost the US $2 billion (27 billion today).
The cost of V 1 and V2 was $20 billion. 

Technical details of the V2 :

At launch the A-4 propelled itself for up to 65 seconds on its own power
The fuel and oxidizer pumps were steam turbines, and the steam was produced by concentrated hydrogen peroxide with potassium permanganate catalyst. Both the alcohol and oxygen tanks were an aluminium-magnesium alloy.
The combustion burner reached a temperature of 2500–2700 °C (4500 – 4900 °F). The fuel was  pumped into the main burner chamber through 1,224 nozzles, which assured the correct mixture of alcohol and oxygen at all times.
The V-2 was guided by four external rudders on the tail fins.
The V2 was the first rocket to be designed that could go into space. However, it never went up, only horizontally to attack London.    

What Hans told Renate:

You know also that I was involved in war work even before you left Germany so there was no way that I could leave with you or your mother. If I’d tried to, it may have meant the two of you would have not been able to get away. Neither could I refuse to work on the very weapons that were causing havoc in England. I did go a little more slowly sometimes …. I hope I did not prolong the agony.

 (Letter 25 July 1946)


Points to ponder

Germany was prevented from developing weapons after World War I.
Should some weapons be illegal?
Does every country have a right to defend itself?