Edward Henrik Herzbaum, an only child, was born on 6th October 1920 in Vienna to Polish Jewish parents. His father, Dr. Alexander Herzbaum, was a doctor of chemical engineering, born in Tarnow, Poland in February 1886 and his mother, Fanny Herzbaum, nee Hermelin was born in Boryslaw near Lwow, Poland in May 1890.
Left: Edward's Parents, Fanny and Alexander in Vienna
Left: Edward with his mother, Fanny Herzbaum
This declaration form filled in by Edward whilst serving in the Polish 2nd Corps, supplied some of the following facts about his pre-war days.
He attended Elementary School in Vienna. In 1928 the family moved back to Poland to a town called Zawiercie, where he continued his studies, starting secondary school in 1930.
In 1934 the family moved again, this time to Lodz, Poland where Edward attended High School. He attained his matriculation certificate in May 1938.
His father, Alexander died in July 1937 at the age of 51.
Edward and his mother continued living in Lodz.
After obtaining his matriculation Edward was deemed fit for active National Service, but deferred this and enrolled himself at the Faculty of Architecture at Warsaw Polytechnic. He completed two semesters before the outbreak of war.
In September 1939 Edward volunteered to join the Polish Auxiliary Forces .
Early in September 1939, Edward, together with some other auxiliary soldiers, was arrested by the Germans. He managed to escape and returned to his home in Lodz where his mother was still living.
On 6th December 1939 Edward left his home and traveled by train to Lwow to stay in his aunt's house in the 'Kresy' (the Eastern Borderlands of Poland). Staying in Lodz would almost certainly have resulted in his being re-arrested by the Germans and killed. For this reason his mother had urged Edward to leave for his own safety.
Edward never saw his mother again as she was incarcerated in the Lodz Ghetto where she died in December 1943 at the age of 53, (information found from the 'Lodz Ghetto Hospital records' on the Jewishgen database). Edward never knew exactly when she died. In his naturalisation documents he stated that she 'Died 1940-41 (exact date not known)'.
From December 1939 to June 1940 Edward lived in his aunt's house under the auspices of the Soviets in the Lwow area, then part of Poland. Edward managed to find work of various kinds, including in a construction site office, as a skiing instructor and as a lifeguard at a swimming pool in a Soviet sports centre. However it was an unsatisfactory time for him as he was unable to do much towards the war effort.
In June 1940, Edward was arrested by the NKVD, interrogated and then sent to Volgalag (gulag) near Rybinsk in the Yaroslavl Oblast of Russia. Here he endured brutality, starvation and illness. He worked in several camps, logging in the forests, which were being cleared for the new Rybinsk reservoir, and he also worked at the hydro-electric plant that was being built at the southern end of the reservoir construction site of Perybory.
In September 1941 the Soviets and the Polish government-in-exile in London, negotiated an 'amnesty' for the Polish prisoners in Russia. This 'so-called amnesty' was declared after Germany, originally allied with Russia, changed sides and attacked Russia, who then joined the Allies against Germany.
Edward, on release from the gulag, traveled south to join the newly forming Polish Army to help in the fight against the Germans. He traveled from Rybinsk, through Vladimir, Ryazin and Saratov and eventually joined the Polish Army at the recruitment centre at Tatischewo. He became a member of the 5th Kresowa Infantry Division.
Edward had suffered badly from asthma as a child and also had poor eyesight. The new Polish recruits started training to become soldiers whilst at the same time recovering from their ordeal in Stalin's labour camps. Edward's health and sight problems made life difficult for him in the army. From late September 1941 the training continued in southern USSR, namely in Blagoveshchenskoye, now in Kyrgyzstan. The conditions were still very poor as the Soviets were unwilling to supply enough food or equipment to sustain the Polish soldiers.
In August 1942 these Polish troops traveled to Krasnovodsk, now Turkmenbasy in Turkmenistan and on 17th August Edward and his fellow soldiers finally started out on their voyage across the Caspian Sea in an old Russian ship called Cziczerin, landing in Pahlevi, now Bandar-e-Anzali in Iran. Here they began to co-ordinate their training with the British forces.
From there the troops traveled to Kerman Shah, now Bakhtaran in Iran and then onto Khanaquin in Iraq where they continued their military training. Edward, in his journals, writes about the joy experienced at having at last got out of the USSR and also the joy of having access to unlimited food. However, as the reality of what these men had been through, as well as the increasingly horrifying news from Poland started to sink in, many of them, including Edward, suffered from bouts of deep depression, something that plagued them throughout their continuing journey.
Edward now had access to painting and drawing materials and he began to document parts of his journey with sketches and watercolours. Most of the originals are now in the USHMM collection.
In March 1943 the Polish soldiers continued on their 'travels' to Habbaniya in Iraq and then in September 1943 to Nuseirat in Palestine. In February 1944 they moved to Quassasin in Egypt and then on to Port Said.
By this time the Polish soldiers were fully trained, but had no idea where or under whose command they would be fighting. On 18th February, Edward and his fellow soldiers started their voyage on the M.S. Dilwara landing in Taranto, Italy where they made preparations to join the Italian Campaign under the command of the British Eighth Army.
During the Italian Campaign Edward was still troubled with depression and self-doubt. The romantic ideas of fighting for his country were wearing thin and the realities of war were leaving their mark. Edward describes with shock the first casualty that they were exposed to. Later death became such an everyday occurrence that it was hardly noted. The exception was at Aquafondate in early June 1944 after the Battle of Monte Cassino. Edward visited the cemetery there and saw the names of men that he knew well, who had given their lives for 'the cause' and he ponders on whether it was all worth it.
The fighting continued with the Adriatic Campaign including the Battle of Ancona. The Polish troops under General Anders continued to excel as a fighting force and were greatly complimented by the British leaders both political and military.
For Edward, his fellow soldiers were the most important people in his life at that time, and he writes about comradeship and the fact that this closeness between the soldiers transcended class and religion. These were men who relied on each other completely and helped each other through the traumas of war.
Although Jewish by birth, Edward was an atheist and thought of himself primarily as Polish. Religion itself was not important to him, but he held high moral ideals and lived his life by them.
After the war Edward, with many others, was given leave to study in Italy, whilst decisions were made as what was to be done with the Polish soldiers who did not wish to return to their now communist-run country.
Edward chose to continue his study of architecture, which he did at the University of Rome between March and September 1946.
Later in 1946, many Polish students were transported to the UK. The information for this period of Edward's life comes from some beautiful dated drawings he did during his travel from Naples, Italy to the UK. He traveled on a ship called the S.S. Marine Raven, which left Naples in October 1946.
Other information about Edward comes from a Home Office file containing Edward's naturalisation application, which was released on request from the National Archives in London. These files indicated that the ship SS Marine Raven arrived in Glasgow in early November 1946 and that Edward was then transported to an army camp near High Wycombe. Below is a section from Edward's naturalisation forms.
Edward was then given further leave to study architecture at the Polish University College London where he commenced his studies in September 1947.
In 1949 Edward registered a change of name, from Herzbaum to Hartry, at the National Registration Office, Kensington, London. His cousin Ted, who had escaped to the United States and joined the army there, had already made the same change of name. Not having an easily recognisable Jewish name would have made life easier for Edward.
In June 1950 Edward successfully finished his studies and was also accepted as a member of the British Institute of Architects. He found work as an architect's assistant at the London County Council.
In 1956 Edward married a Polish Catholic fellow architect at the register office in Kensington, London and their daughter was born in 1957.
After working in several architect's offices, in the early sixties Edward started a partnership with two other architects and they were having growing success. Sadly Edward died in February 1967 at the age of 46 and the business was dissolved.