Rare White Rose goes to Holocaust Centre

By Jennifer Lipman, July 7, 2011
William Kaczynski

William Kaczynski

A Berlin-born Jew who has built up an extensive collection of documents from the Nazi era has donated a rare resistance leaflet to the Beth Shalom Holocaust centre after reading about the centre's work in the JC.

William Kaczynski, who escaped Germany for Britain at the age of three on the eve of the Second World War, acquired the White Rose leaflet several years ago.

The leaflet, one of six circulated in 1942 by the White Rose anti-Hitler German student resistance, was reprinted in 1943, after the movement was crushed, and then air-dropped on Nazi Germany by the RAF.

Mr Kaczynski's version, one of very few RAF copies to survive the war, forms part of his collection of around 150 letters and postcards from the war.

A book about his collection is to be published later this year, but when
he read in the JC about plans for September's star-studded "White Rose" fundraising ball - an event supported by stars including Stephen Fry and Elaine Paige - he was moved to give his leaflet to Beth Shalom's permanent collection.

"I got in touch with them immediately," said Mr Kaczynski, who now lives in Swiss Cottage. "As an organisation celebrating the courage shown by those young students in Munich, and encouraging others to show active humanity today, I could not think of a better place to take one of these remarkable leaflets."

In a particularly fitting twist, he officially handed them the leaflet on the 69th anniversary of the airdrop.

"We're absolutely thrilled at William's generosity," says Helen Whitney, director of the Holocaust Centre.

"We named the White Rose Ball in honour of the White Rose movement, because the Holocaust Centre is all about inspiring young people today to speak out against prejudice and discrimination - and it was due to the early publicity for that event that this historic document turned up."

The leaflet will be shown in public for the first time at the White Rose ball on September 25, with Mr Kaczynski present to explain its significance. "The document means a lot to me and I hope it will let guests know what the White Rose was about," he said.

Find out more about the White Rose ball at www.whiteroseball.org.

Last updated: 1:09pm, July 7 2011