Herbert Carl Kann was an Austrian Jew who trained as an electrical engineer and draftsman. He fled Austria in 1938 to escape Nazi persecution and obtained a temporary visa for the Straits Settlements in Singapore. With the outbreak of war, Herbert and hundreds of other Austrian and German Jews were interned as 'enemy aliens' and shipped to Australia. They were sent on sealed trains to an internment camp at Tatura, in New South Wales. After 17 months he was released and began work as an electrical engineer.

It is not clear from the information available at the time his objects were donated to the Museum when Herbert married his wife Marion, or Marion's background in general. Herbert settled in Melbourne with Marion and they lived there for the rest of their lives. The objects donated to the Museum are believed to have been brought to Australia from Austria by Herbert and / or used by Marion / Herbert in their home. After their deaths a neighbour offered their house contents to the Museum. Their house was filled with objects, some kept in tiny packages for safe-keeping.

Two prayer books that also belonged to Herbert were donated to the Jewish Museum; some of his books were donated to Monash University.

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