General Stampers Ltd was set up by a Dutchman, Mr Wim Van Leer in 1936. Mr Van Leer was born in Amsterdam on 29th May 1913 and trained as an engineer in Switzerland before coming to Welwyn Garden City. In the WGC Directory of 1939 the company describes its products as 'Door Furniture' (eg. hinges, handles, etc.). Later on in the 1940s it is described as manufacturing 'stamped and pressed parts in all metals and finishes for aircraft, motor, building, and allied trades, etc. Die-casting in high-tensile zinc base alloys up to 2 lb. Wire products and wire shapes. Spot welding. Electro-depositing in zinc, tin, chromium, and other finishes. Small sub-assemblies. Press tools and moulds. Experimental engineers and designers. Special machinery designed and built. Industrial X-ray service in metals and plastics.' Wim Van Leer travelled to Germany after a plan was hatched in November 1938 by WGC founder Captain Richard Reiss and Edgar Reissner - a young German student. Reiss and Reissner formed a refugee committee and made available Applecroft Hostel as accommodation. After negotiations at Gestapo headquarters Mr Van Leer returned to WGC on 15th January 1939 with 14 young Jews who would otherwise have been sent to concentration camps. Sam O, one of the refugees in this group, remembers working in Van Leer's factory "opposite Barcley Corsets, a firm called General Stampers. We did war work, small pressings, die-casting, etc. etc. The chap who worked there somehow managed to get me. I was not interned because we were classed as enemy aliens and for some reason, for very good reason he managed to get me exempted because, I suppose, he put down ‘most important chap, war work, etc, etc.’ I assume".