The Makofski Collection

by Danielle Triggs, Archive Assistant

One of my recent projects at the West Yorkshire Archive Service has involved taking a deeper look at our Makofski collection. This collection centres on the work of David Makofski, who was Chairman of the Leeds Jewish Refugees Committee and organised the Trainee Scheme. The Trainee Scheme was set up to help Jewish refugees who fled Europe during the Second World War to find work in the Leeds area.

The focus of my project has been to catalogue the 3 trainee books within this collection. Each page is an entry about an individual and usually includes information such as: name, date of birth, nationality and proposed employer. Some entries provide us with a wealth of information, for example several entries make reference to some of these men being held in concentration camps, such as Herbert Cohn:

WYL5047_1_1_20_cropped_for_blog

Photograph of Mr Herbert Cohn taken circa 1939 (Reference WYL5047/1/1/20)

Application made for Mr Herbert Cohn
Grange Street, Leeds 7
Born March 2 1909 in Hamburg, German nationality
Working for the Merit Chain Frame, Brunell Buildings, Leeds 12
Arrived April 12 1939
W. H. no. 71791
Was in concentration camp
Was importer of English cotton goods
Employee of Lemon, Jewish firm now closed
Before that in department store
Parents in Germany
Father – government clerk
Sister at home in Germany
Mother ill in Germany
(WYAS reference WYL5047/1/1/20)

The Trainee Scheme was primarily for young men, as the majority of entries are for men, with a few exceptions for married couples. While some entries end with ‘Not allowed to come over, above age’, because there was an age limit of 35 for those who could be part of the scheme. These books are a fantastic resource which show what the Jewish community in Leeds was doing to aid refugees during the Second World War but could also be useful to family historians who may be related to people within these books.

The Makofski collection is under the reference WYL5047 and is held at our Leeds office.  The catalogue will soon be available online but please note that access to records within 100 years is restricted so do contact us for more information – our email addresses is leeds@wyjs.org.uk

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