[Alfred Meyer sitting alone in the field while serving in the army, ca. 1914 to 1918]

[Alfred Meyer sitting alone in the field while serving in the army]

Archival Item

Resource TypeStill Images
Title NoteThe supplied title proper is based on the subject of the item.
Date of Creation[ca. 1914–1918]
GenrePhotographs
IdentifierRA038-04-00-00-08
Location in CollectionMeyer family fonds > Photographs series
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 immigrate 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 photograph: b&w ; 8.6 x 11.7 cm
Scope & ContentItem is a photograph of Alfred Meyer in the field while serving in the army during the First World War. The photograph is printed in black and white on a thin paper. The photo has a matte surface. Reflected light reveals a metallic sheen in the darkest areas of ink.
Physical Characteristics and Technical RequirementsThe item exhibits darkening and discolouration of the image. There are two tears in the photo’s bottom corners (recto). The verso contains remnants of adhesive in all four corners. Paper has been peeled away where the four adhesive marks are located, perhaps due to removing from display.
Archival HistoryPrevious item number assigned by the VHEC: 96.025.008a