Eric Koch

9 01 2011

Eric Koch at recent book signing in Toronto

I recently found out about a man named Eric Koch, a refugee from Hitler who made a career at CBC and who now maintains a WordPress blog. (His most recent post is a complaint that there are no pay telephones in the Bell Canada-sponsored Lightbox cinema in Toronto). His most recent book is a novel called the Weimar Triangle.

In 1940, Koch, who was then a student at Cambridge, was arrested as an enemy alien and sent to an internment camp in Canada. He talks about this bizarre sequence of events here in this YouTube Video.

In 2004, Koch donated many of his papers to the archives of York University. Koch’s life story would be a wonderful book project for a specialist in 20th century Canadian history.
Fonds/Collection Number:    F0472
Title:    Eric Koch fonds
Dates:    1938-2004
Extent:    2.4 metres of textual records
22 audio cassettes
50 photographs
1 video cassette

Biographical Sketch

Administrative History:    Eric Koch (1919-), writer, broadcaster and professor, was born on 31 August 1919 in Frankfurt, Germany. He left Germany for England as a refugee in 1935 where he attended Cranbrook School in Kent from 1935 to 1937 and later St. John’s College, Cambridge from 1937 to 1940. In May 1940, he was interned as an “enemy alien” and later transported to Canada where he remained interned until 1941, following which he continued his studies at the University of Toronto. He began his career as a broadcaster with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 1944 when he joined the German Section, International Service (RCI) based in Montreal. From 1953 to 1967, he was a member of the Department of Talks and Public Affairs in Toronto. He was promoted in 1967 to Area Head, Arts and Science and was responsible for the creation of a large number of radio and television programmes. From 1971 to 1977, he served as regional director (Montreal). He retired from the CBC in 1979 to devote himself to writing. He is the author of ten books of fiction, many of which were published in Germany, and four books of non-fiction including “Hilmar and Odette”, which was awarded the Yad Vashem Prize for Holocaust Writing in 1996. He was a course director at York University in the Social Science Division where he taught a course on The Politics of Canadian Broadcasting for over 15 years.
Scope and Content:

Fonds consists of material that documents his career as a writer and broadcaster and, as such, includes correspondence with publishers, fan mail, research material, newspaper clippings, reviews of his work, notes, drafts and galleys related to his novels and works of non-fiction. The writing files include photocopies of his own letters written to his mother when he was an internee in England and manuscript and photocopies of letters written to Koch from Daria Hambourg and used as research material for his novel, “The Brothers Hambourg”. Fonds also includes transcripts of interviews as well as written reminiscences in the form of letters from many former German internees; these letters were subsequently used as resource material for his book “Deemed Suspect: A Wartime Blunder”. Fonds includes a complete set of published copies of his books. The broadcasting files contain correspondence, memos, notes and drafts of scripts, scrapbooks and other material that documents his long career with the CBC.

More information is here.

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