• [Diary of Paul Meyer]
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[Diary of Paul Meyer]

Archival Item

Resource TypeDocuments
Date of Creation[after 1938]
GenreAlbums, Diaries & Scrapbooks
IdentifierRA038-03-00-00-13
Administrative/Biographical HistoryPaul Meyer (b. October 9, 1916, d. September 14, 2003) and Max Meyer (b. February 22, 1913, d. April 1, 2004) were born in Cologne, Germany to parents Eugen Meyer (b. August 8, 1880 Cologne, d. October 10, 1964 Vancouver) and Alice née Jonas (b. circa 1890). Eugen Meyer ran a lace and tulle fashion business, M. Meyer & Co., founded by his father, Max Meyer (b. 1848 Bubenheim, Germany, d. 1896 Calais, France) in Cologne, around 1870. Eugen took the business over in the late 1890s, after the death of his father, and ran it with his uncle, Ernest, an accountant. At its height the business employed 300 workers.

Eugen Meyer served as a soldier in the German army in the First World War and wrote a diary of his and his unit’s experiences. Eugen’s brother, Alfred Meyer (b. 1882), also a soldier in the German army, was killed in France in 1918. Ernst Jonas, father of Alice, died on March 17, 1919 while a prisoner of war. Alice’s sister, Lucie Jonas, was married to Heinrich Frank; both were killed in Sobibor in 1943.

After the Nazis came to power in Germany, the Meyer siblings and other Jewish children were forbidden to attend school. Paul was arrested during Kristallnacht and sent to Dachau. Max, a salesman, was in Hanover on business and was not arrested on that night; he was able to buy a visa on the black market to help Paul get out of Dachau. The brothers were told they had to leave Germany or be interned. They obtained passports and a transit visa with help from an uncle, and then arranged passports for their parents. The Meyers paid high taxes upon leaving Germany.

The Meyers applied to emigrate to Canada and received special permission from the Commissioner of Immigration early in 1939, but their plans were cancelled at the outbreak of the Second World War. The family was able to leave Antwerp for New York in October, 1939, and then travelled by train to a camp outside of Montreal.

They settled in Vancouver, BC, where Paul and Max started a pottery business and their mother, Alice, worked for the Red Cross. In 1954, Paul returned to Cologne and visited the former location of his family’s lace business, on Apostelnstrasse II. The original building was damaged but the basement remained intact. Paul retrieved samples and other materials produced by M. Meyer & Co. in the basement and brought these materials back to Vancouver.
Extent & Medium1 diary : 16.5 x 13 cm
Scope & ContentItem is Paul Meyer’s diary covering the period from when Hitler came to power in 1933 until the author’s arrival in Canada in 1939. Once Paul was settled in Vancouver, he wrote the diary while referring to numerous notes taken at the time. Diary covers the difficulty of obtaining a visa to leave Germany and the bureaucratic hurdles imposed by the Nazis after his release from Dachau. The item is made of five signatures saddle-stitched to a dark blue, padded cover. There is a brass (?) lock on the item’s front and back cover. Tagebuch is printed in gold script on the diary’s front cover. The endpapers are flourished by an ornate pattern. The item’s backing material is constructed of red fabric. The text block is made of unlined paper and has gilded edges. Accompanying the item is the key to the diary, as well as a letter typewritten by Paul Meyer to the VHEC explaining the diary.
Caption, signatures and inscriptionsThe first page in the diary has Tagebuch/ von/ Paul Meyer (Diary of Paul Meyer) handwritten in black ink.
LanguageGerman
Physical Characteristics and Technical RequirementsThe cover and spine are slightly scratched, rubbed, and faded, resulting in discolouration.
Archival HistoryPrevious item number assigned by the VHEC: 1998.007.002