Fonds RA008 - John Herbert fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

John Herbert fonds

General material designation

  • Textual record
  • Photographic material
  • Object

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents of fonds.

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Dates of creation area


  • 1924-2010 (Creation)
    Herbert, John

Physical description area

Physical description

130 cm of textual records
53 photographs : black and white, colour
1 flash drive
6 objects

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

John David Herbert (birth name Heinz Herbert Karpowitz, b. March 26, 1924, in Berlin, Germany) was from an affluent Jewish family, the second child of Otto Karpowitz and Frieda Abraham. He had two sisters: Inge Johanna Karpowitz (b. 1921) and Ellen Ruth Karpowitz (b. 1929). Otto Karpowitz was the owner of the Sportspalast in Berlin, a popular venue for the Nazi Party’s speeches and rallies, and heard Adolf Hitler’s plans to conquer Europe and eliminate the Jews. He moved the family to The Hague, Netherlands, in 1931. In 1937, Otto, once again fearing danger, brought John to England, enrolling him at Lindesfarne College, a private school. He left John at school and never returned. From 1940 to 1941, John was interned at Huyton Alien Internment Camp, near Liverpool. In the Netherlands, John’s mother and sisters survived the Holocaust in hiding. His father did not survive; he was arrested and died in Auschwitz in 1944.

After the war, John struggled to afford higher education, working for London, Midland and Scottish Railway and British Law Insurance Company for low pay. His work as an elementary school teacher inspired him to learn more about teaching. In 1950, he earned his Bachelor of Science in Economics and Political Science from London University. In 1958, he earned his Master of Education in Educational Psychology from Cornell University. Finally, in 1964, he graduated from Columbia University with his Doctorate of Education in Curriculum Instruction.

John’s education allowed him to work as a principal and teacher at numerous schools in England, the United States and Canada, including Longfellow School, Reed College and University of Toronto. From 1974 to 1977, he was Expert in Educational Psychology at University of Science, Malaysia, with a UNESCO assignment. In 1981 John moved to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, where he continued working for the United Nations as National Vice President of the United Nations Association in Canada. In 2006, John joined a memoir group and wrote substantially about his life.

John married Evelyn “Eve” Green in 1947. Their son, Paul David Herbert, was born in 1949. John married his second wife, Lucille Oaklander, in 1954. Their daughter, Susan Alice Herbert, was born in 1956. After John divorced Lucille, he met Anne Noonan. She was his companion for thirty years.

From 1947 to 2010, John and his siblings fought for their inheritance and properties seized from their family during the war. These properties included those owned by Otto Karpowitz in Berlin and property belonging to their mother’s family in Danzig, now Gdansk, Poland. The claims process involved substantial correspondence between the Karpowitz family and numerous lawyers, realtors and government agencies, such as the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the United States.

John died on March 25, 2011, in Victoria.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of memoirs, correspondence, photographs, vital records, travel documents, financial documents, publications, newspaper and magazine clippings, handwritten notes and drawings, maps, conference papers and artefacts relating to the life of John Herbert. Records chronicle John Herbert’s personal life, pursuit of higher education, career history, hobbies, travels and struggle to attain compensation for the properties seized from his family during the Second World War. Fonds has been arranged into the following series: JH memoirs series (1938–2010), Karpowitz family series (1939–2005), JH career documents series (1945–1988), JH inheritance and claims documents series (1924–2010), JH correspondence series (1955–2005), Research resources and notes series (1972–2005), Travel documents series (1946–1986), Inventions documents series (1979–1984), JH clippings series (1972–1988) and JH artefacts series.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Records were maintained by John Herbert until his death in 2011. As executor of John Herbert’s estate, Anne Noonan maintained the records until their donation to the VHEC in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2016.


The original order of the fonds has been maintained where it was discerned. The fonds has been arranged into ten series which reflect the major activities of the creator. The items within most files have been kept in the order maintained by the creator.

Language of material

  • Dutch
  • English
  • German
  • Hebrew
  • Malay

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File list is available.

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Further accruals are not expected.

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Prepared by Sarika Kelm in November 2016. Updated in January 2017.

Language of description

  • English

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