The Whitechapel Windmill

December 23, 2008

Judah Bergman, otherwise known as ‘Jack Kid Berg’, to this day is considered one of the finest boxers Great Britain has produced.

Berg was born to a poor Jewish family in Whitechapel, East London, on 28 June 1909. For a young man such as Berg, in the 1920s, professional boxing was one of the few viable routes to a better life.

‘The Whitechapel Windmill’ (as he became known), after entering his first professional fight aged 14, notched up a long string of victories. Despite initially having no formal training, his strength and raw aggression, combined with a natural aptitude for the sport, carried him through.

Setting sail for America

After beating the cream of Britain’s featherweights and lightweights, in March 1928 he set forth on a voyage to America. Here is Berg aboard the Mauretania, on his first USA trip:

Berg on the Passenger Lists in 1928

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The Englishman proved a big hit with American audiences, winning six out of seven of his first US fights. After briefly returning to England later that year, he set sail once again for the States, in March 1929. Here he is aboard the Berengaria:

Berg on the Passenger Lists in 1929

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World Champion at last

This time Berg stayed a while longer.  After an extended unbeaten run, defeating some of the best fighters of the day, he finally got his shot at the world light-welterweight title, held by the American, ‘Mushy’ Callaghan. Berg’s boyhood dream was realised on 18 February 1930, at the Royal Albert Hall in London, when he captured the title from Callaghan via a tenth round stoppage.

The victory made Berg a national hero. He successfully defended the title five times, before losing it to Tony Canzoneri, another American, 14 months later.

He never won it back, but continued to fight on both sides of the Atlantic with considerable success up until 1945. During a 20 year ring career he amassed a phenomenal record of 157 wins in 192 fights.

The last voyage

He appears a remarkable eight times on our Passenger Lists – on each occasion bound for America. Here he is on his last BT27 trip, aboard the Queen Elizabeth in September 1956:

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Jewish refugees

February 11, 2008

As the Nazi Party’s anti-Semitic agenda became clearer and more brutal, thousands of Jews fled Germany and its neighbouring countries. Following Kristallnacht in November 1938, the need to emigrate in order to avoid persecution became more urgent.

The 1940s Passenger Lists contain many Jewish individuals fleeing Europe for America and Australia. One example is a voyage made by the Brittanic on 3 May 1940 to New York. The ‘alien’ section of the Passenger List reveals a large number of Jewish passengers, many of them merchants. Most are from Germany and Austria.

Passenger Lists - Jewish refugees

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Some of the passengers are described as having their last UK address as the Council for German Jewry’s Kitchener Camp, in Richborough, Kent:

Passenger Lists - Kitchener Camp

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The Kitchener Camp provided accommodation for almost 15,000 Jewish men, despite it having been designed to house only a fifth of that number. The camp was disbanded in June 1940 as, following the evacuation of Dunkirk, German and Austrian nationals were viewed as ‘enemy aliens’ and were subject to internment.

8,000 of the ‘enemy aliens’ were deported to Australia and Canada as the threat of German invasion increased, to ensure that they couldn’t pose any threat to national security.


New decade added to the Passenger Lists 1940 to 1949

January 31, 2008

Findmypast.com has added another decade of records to the UK Outbound Passenger Lists currently available. Records now include 20 million names within 137,000 passenger lists spanning 1890 to 1949.

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1940s – Horrors, Hitler and the aftermath

The first half of the 1940s was one of the darkest periods in history, with global war causing millions of casualties and the horrors of the Holocaust. Buoyed by the USA’s entry following the attack at Pearl Harbor, the Allies eventually secured victory in Europe. Victory in Japan came only after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Following Armistice the world looked once again to rebuild: the ‘Iron Curtain’ descended in the East leading to the beginnings of the Cold War. Thousands of women left their families and homes to start a new life in Canada, America and Australia with the soldiers they had met and married. ‘Home Children’ were sent away to Canada for a better life, with mixed results. Commercial travel increased, as did the possibility of travelling for business, to compete in sports and other events.

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Notable passengers on board in the 1940s

One man whose influence on the decade cannot be overestimated appears in the passenger lists, travelling to America in 1946. Winston Churchill M P, following defeat in the 1945 election as the nation looked toward the social reforms of Attlee’s Labour Party, can be seen with his wife, valet and maid on board the Queen Elizabeth:

Passenger Lists - Churchill

The American film star Spencer Tracy may be seen on the Queen Mary:

Passenger Lists - Spencer Tracy

Whilst the famous sculptor Henry Moore can be found travelling to New York:

Passenger Lists - Henry Moore

Other notable names include Walt Disney, Elia Kazan, Benjamin Britten and Joan Fontaine.

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Find your ancestors in the Passenger Lists

Search by person or by ship name alone. You can now also narrow your search with the name of a travelling companion. A comprehensive guide to searching the passenger lists can be viewed here.

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Our premium Explorer Subscription offers you unlimited access to over 500 million records on findmypast, including the passenger lists, and costs £89.95 for 12 months – the equivalent of just £7.50 a month. The Voyager Subscription gives you 30 days’ unlimited searching of all the Passenger Lists for only £14.95.
You can also view the Passenger Lists on a pay-per-view basis. It costs 10 units to view a transcription and 30 units to view, print and save the full-colour digital images.

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New decade added to the Passenger lists – 1930-1939

September 18, 2007

Findmypast.com has added another decade of records to the UK Outbound Passenger Lists currently available. Records now include 18.4 million names within 125,000 passenger lists spanning 1890 to 1939.

The 1930s – an era of depression and despots

The 1930s were a decade that began with the Great Depression, in the wake of the Wall Street Crash, and ended in war. The global economic crisis saw the rise of extreme politics, the birth of fascism and the end of the prosperity and liberalism of the previous decade.

People were still travelling for work, and pleasure, but from 1933 the rise to power of Hitler saw thousands of people beginning to flee the Nazi regime. These migrants weren’t offered a great deal of help; Canada, for example, claimed that it could offer entry only to “certain classes of agriculturalists’, whilst Australia proclaimed that it would be unfair to give one class of non-British subjects preferential treatment.

Notable passengers on board in the 1930s

A great many recognisable figures from sport, entertainment and the arts can be found in the 1930s passenger lists.
Arthur “Harpo” Marx can be seen travelling to New York in 1931

Harpo

Whilst the British tennis legend Fred Perry is found aboard the Queen Mary in 1937

Perry

Other notable passengers include Laurel and Hardy, Somerset Maugham, Bob Hope, Cecil Beaton and Helen Keller.
A key figure in the 1930s was the American President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose New Deal helped to pull the States out of Depression. His son, Franklin Delano Jr. can also be found

Find your ancestors in the Passenger Lists

Search by person or by ship name alone. You can now also narrow your search with the name of a travelling companion. A comprehensive guide to searching the passenger lists can be viewed here.

Start Searching Now

Our premium Explorer Subscription offers you unlimited access to over 500 million records on findmypast, including the passenger lists, and costs £89.95 for 12 months – the equivalent of just £7.50 a month. The Voyager Subscription gives you 30 days’ unlimited searching of all the Passenger Lists for only £14.95.

You can also view the Passenger Lists on a pay-per-view basis. It costs 10 units to view a transcription and 30 units to view, print and save the full-colour digital images.

Search the Passenger Lists now.


Kaplinski on board

September 7, 2007

Many of you will have seen the moving story of Natasha Kaplinsky’s family, on the first episode of the new series of Who Do You Think You Are?

Her paternal grandfather, Moisza Kaplinski, can be found in the BT27 Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard.com. He travelled  3rd class from London to Cape Town, as a 23 year old single man, in 1929 aboard the Glengorm Castle.

Moisza Kaplinski

The address of all the Jewish passengers on the list is the Poor Jews’ Temporary Shelter at 82 Leman Street, Aldgate. See our earlier blog regarding Jewish migration to South Africa ,and the Shelter,  here http://www.ancestorsonboard.com/getSingleArticle.action?id=The%20Cape%20Colony

More information on the Shelter can be found at TNA’s Moving Here website here.