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A photograph of Franz Hausner and Betty Heimann. It was taken on their wedding day in London in 1939.

Image courtesy of Tony Hausner.

Franz Hausner (born 1915) and Betty Heimann (born 1911) were both Jewish refugees from Vienna. After Hitler took over Austria in what is called the Anschluss in March 1938, many Jews tried to leave as they were terrified about what could happen to them living in a Nazi country. Franz and Betty had known each other a little in Vienna, but it was not until they met again in London that they fell in love and were married there in 1939. Soon after the wedding, Franz, Betty, and Franz’s brother Walter moved to a shared house in Cardiff. They set up a textile factory called Novel Textile Co. Ltd. on Treforest Trading Estate, near Pontypridd. Back in Vienna, the two brothers worked in the family business making lace and chenille.

After the war broke out the British government began to intern people who they considered a threat to National Security, and this newlywed Austrian couple were sent to two separate camps on the Isle of Man. Franz was interned in Mooragh Camp and Betty in Port Erin because men and women had to live separately. We know about life in the camp and its many hardships through the regular letters exchanged by the couple. Betty revealed that she had been made to share a room with a Nazi woman and was only allowed to bathe every 14 days. Franz wrote about difficulties with their business, and he eventually decided to sell their textile factory.

After their one-year internment ended, they decided to leave Cardiff and move to Liverpool before finally emigrating to America in 1950.


Edwards, Mark, Europe's only all-female WW2 internment camp remembered (2015) [accessed 14 March 2022]

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