L in the beginning

Louis Philip Zander was born on 1st June, 1946. In all the official
biographies published during his lifetime the place of his birth is given
as London, but in fact his birth certificate [plate 2] was issued in Cape
Town, South Africa. His father, Sir Nicholas Zander, and his mother
Amadea (née Montfort) had emigrated to South Africa in 1939 after the
outbreak of the Second World War. It was the intention of Sir Nicholas
to remain there, and he opened a branch of the Flook Zander Shipping
Company in Adderley Street, Cape Town in February 1940. A year
later he opened a branch of the Flook Zander Merchant Bank in the
same imposing building. But in 1947 the Zanders decided to return to
England because, as Amadea wrote to her sister Claudia, “Nicky has
come to the conclusion that the right education for the children is not
to be had here, and although the importation of tutors might solve the
problem, it may be better in the post-war world, for the boys at least,
to attend a school and learn to get along with people from other walks
of life.”
It was certainly very early to be making plans for Louis’s education,
but he had two older brothers, Abelard, then aged eight, who was to
emigrate to the United States before the revolution, transplanting the
family business to Boston; and Marius, six, who was sadly to die of
a virus disease of the brain before he was old enough to follow his
brother to Eton. Lady Zander grieved deeply for her loss. Her fear that
her youngest son might catch some infection kept Louis out of school
after all, and he was educated in the family house at Hampstead and
in the country on the family’s beautiful Hampshire estate then called
“Wispers” (later turned into “Clinic 5”, the prison-hospital of gruesome
memory).
As a child, Louis admired his brother Abelard, but had little contact
with him after the older boy went off to Eton to start on that education
and adaptation to the commonalty which Sir Nicholas considered to be
of great importance. He kept a closer but quarrelsome companionship
with Marius, who, we learn from the DIARIES, returned often to
haunt his mind, and affected his adult views on children and early
death. Closest of all to Louis – though it would be wrong to think of
his ever having had a very close and durable relationship with anyone
even in early childhood – was his sister Sophie. He continued to seek her
company more than anyone else’s in the family right into adulthood,
and tried unsuccessfully to dissuade her from following Abelard to
America.
Sir Nicholas Zander was of Jewish descent. He liked to tell his
children that the family descended in a direct line from the Maccabees,
the royal heroes of Jewish history. Sir Nicholas’s father’s name had been
Zaccharov. The family had been established as merchants in Vilna,
capital city of the old state of Lithuania, for some generations, but
had come to England via Austria, where Sir Nicholas’s grandfather
had started the new family business by becoming a shipping agent for
a group of Hungarian companies, with considerable backing from a
number of well-established banks through family connections. The
move to London had been made before the First World War. In 1919
Philip Zaccharov was created a baronet by King George V for “services
to His Majesty’s Armed Forces during the war”. He had been chandler
to the fleet from 1915 to the Armistice and beyond, and as his son
Nicholas wrote to his fiancée, the Honourable Amadea Montfort, in
1934: “His enemies accuse him of war-profiteering. Yet there is evidence
for anyone who looks for it that this accusation is not only unjustified,
it is the opposite of the truth. He has written off large sums owed to
him by the government. His love of this country, amply attested by all
who knew him, made him happy to serve it as best he could, and to
my personal knowledge the day he persuaded his partner Flook to write
off the debt was a day of celebration. To call such a man, who throws
a party for his friends and employees when he loses some millions of
pounds, a ‘profiteer’ is plainly unjust, as I am sure you will agree. So the
next time your Aunt the Dowager Countess brings up this slander
(ingenuously I am sure for she cannot have any wish to ruin your
happiness by making you uneasy about the quality of the family you
are to marry into), I hope you will repeat to her what I have now told
you.” We may conjecture from this that Zaccharov’s generosity to the
British government was what earned him his title. But we cannot assert
that he was motivated by desire for honours. Enough for us to notice
that the reward was plainly deserved, and to add that if it was looked
for, it was reasonably looked for.

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