The Pre-War Years

Alexander and Fanni Herzbaum, Edward's parents.

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.


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.


The War Years 1939-1945

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

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.


 ID Card University of Rome

Student Pass

Later in 1946, many Polish students were transported to the UK. The information for this period of Edward's life come 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.  


 29th October 1946, Castello Agioini, Naples


30th October 1946, Castello Agioini, Naples

30th October 1946, Naples


 31st October 1946, Naples


 31st October 1946, Naples

 1st November 1946, SS Marine Raven

  1st November 1946, SS Marine Raven

 3rd November 1946, SS Marine Raven, Gibraltar 

 4th November 1946, SS Marine Raven

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 1952 Edward gained British Nationality.

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 and the business was dissolved.

 Recollections Of Edek.

My father playing with my sister and me.

My recollections of my father are rather hazy, probably because I was only 10 when he died. I called him Edek, not Father or Dad, because my sister, who was my mother's daughter from a previous marriage, felt more comfortable calling him Edek and when I came along we stuck with that.

I remember that he was a quiet man, not very keen on social occasions, but a stickler for discipline and respect for one's elders.

I know also that he was ambitious and driven. As well as working hard during the day, he would quite often work all night on a submission for an architectural competition.

One of his greatest passions was skiing and he had an immense love of the mountains. From an early age he took us on family skiing holidays to Austria and Switzerland. We always traveled by car and were thus lucky enough to see some truly amazing landscapes on these journeys.

He even managed to find snow on a summer holiday.

His other passions were cars and aeroplanes. He loved to drive fast cars and also admitted that he was not a good driver. The result was fairly regular 'mishaps' with the car.

One of his hobbies was making customised aeroplane models, some of which I still have in the loft. He was meticulous with their accuracy. During the war he contributed to some of the graphic sections of the wartime magazine 'Uwaga Nadchodzi!' with instructions on the identification of aircraft, both friendly and enemy.

Every year the family would be taked to a round of annual airshows in the UK such as the Biggin Hill Airshow. I'm afraid not all of us shared his passion and I hated the loud noise.

My father also loved photography and would develop and print his own black and white photos. I remember the fascination I felt when I was allowed to stay up and watch. The dark room, lit only by a red light, and the magic of the image appearing on the blank paper.

Whilst still at school, my sister was invited to a fancy dress party and she decided to go as a falconer. My father made her a paper sculpture falcon to go with her costume.  I was keen on cowboys and Indians and he made me a paper sculpture cowboy hat.


One of the most amazing things he made for us was a pair of marionette puppets that were fully articulated and exquisitely made.

Around 1960 we moved into a half-finished house in Surrey, UK, that my father and mother, also an architect, had designed and built. At that time the house had no windows or doors and the garden was full of mountains of rubble and soil. I loved it and thought of it as a giant playground. The house was featured in several Architectural magazines and I think, when finished, it was my parents' pride and joy.



He loved the goods things in life, good design, music, films, books, and was genuinely intellectual.

His other interests included playing tennis, swimming. He liked James Bond films and he embraced Englishness wholeheartedly. He spoke English without any trace of an accent, and loved the English sense of humour and quirks of language.   When we lived in Teddington, he insisted we went to the new curry restaurant when it opened and after that, there was a regime of weekly visits to a restaurant for lunch.

I don't think he had any interest in politics, which lead to conflict with Babcia [our maternal grandmother] who was massively interested.  Everything that we had at home culturally (books, records, attitudes) came from Edek. He was interested in everything modern and am sure would have totally become obsessed with modern technology and had the latest gadgets.

He was very untidy by nature.  He worked hard in the garden, laying all the paving slabs at Pipidowek, and in Teddington he cast his own slabs from concrete. He made some items of furniture (still around - the chessboard table and wooden slat benches).

Every year he designed our Christmas card. He spent his weekends fiddling about with his car or making plane models.  I think he probably liked to retreat, on his own, into his own areas of interest.   He absolutely loved the cats we had and the dog, Lee, and he was very upset when she died.

I think he had a tremendous appetite for life.

He had unending intellectual curiosity and was obsessively interested in new architecture. I remember when we drove through Europe we had to make detours (particularly in Germany actually), so that he could see new buildings. My mother was far more reluctant to spend time in Germany or encounter Germans than he was. In retrospect I think he shut off the wartime years in his mind, didn't want to think about them, or bear any grudges or seek any kind of retribution. It was a chapter he tried to absolutely close and I never heard him talking about it."

Go to top of page