Accession Number: NEKHC:2015.47

Object: Training Certificate

Category:  Hedi Argent; Austria; Great Britain; Refugee

Physical Description: Paper and ink. Complete.

Information on Item: This certificate forms part of the Hedi Argent Collection. It belonged to Hedi Argent's father, Max Schnabl. In Austria, Max had been a lawyer, however he needed this certificate which states he completed a course to become a qualified as a domestic servant to come to Britain.

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Information:  Hedi Argent was born in 1929, and lived in a suburb of Vienna, Austria with her parents Max and Liza. Hedi’s father was a lawyer and her mother trained as a chemist before raising Hedi. Although the family were Jewish they did not practice. As the family became more restricted by anti-Jewish laws, Hedi’s father lost his job and they lost their home and many belongings. The family managed to leave Austria intending to travel to the United States of America, but stayed in England as the Second World War prevented further travel.
Speaking of her father's certificate in 2016, Hedi says: ‘This is a certificate that my father got after he finished a course, to prepare him to come to England. My father was a Lawyer by profession that is what he practiced all his life, while we lived in Vienna, and in order to come to England, he had to prove that he was an adequate domestic servant. So in order to do that he had to take this course and this is the certificate to prove that he is a Domestic Servant. In order to get the visa to come here as domestic servants, they had to have this piece of paper. He had to learn to serve meals, say the correct thing to people, to greet people the correct way, to pour drinks, pull chairs out and push them back’… ‘My father kept the document always because it was something he was, in a way quite proud of, the fact that he had passed an exam to be an butler, he thought it was quite funny. But he also thought it was quite meaningful, that, that is what he had to do, and he kept it’.