Sunday, 30 November 2008

Seventieth Anniversary of The Kindertransport

Frank Meisler's Kindertransport Memorial
Liverpool Street Station, London

© Wikimedia Commons


I’m ashamed to say that until today I had never heard of the Kindertransport and I have no idea why. I heard about the anniversary on the radio this morning and decided to find out more.

It was a very moving event starting in 1938, involving the transport of over 10,000 babies and children, mainly Jewish from Nazi occupied territory in Europe in 1938. Following the rise to power of the Nazis in 1933 the anti Jewish laws brought in led to businesses being closed, their homes taken away, Jewish doctors and teachers not being allowed to practise, harassment and deportation and to concentration camps. Jewish children and students were bullied and beaten and finally banned from schools and universities.

The ferocity of pre-war persecution of Jews reached its pinnacle on November 9 and 10, 1938, known as Kristallnacht (“Night of Broken Glass”), when German and Austrian Nazis burned and destroyed 267 synagogues, killed 100 people, smashed 7,500 Jewish stores and incarcerated nearly 30,000 in concentration camps.

The majority of Jewish families were unable to travel abroad because of lack of cash and the stringent visa controls imposed by countries such as Britain and the USA. The British Refugee Committee put pressure on the British government to relax immigration controls for a limited number of children. They agreed, but sadly they refused to accept their parents. The Quakers and organisations like Red Cross organised the transport and the first train carrying Jewish children away from Nazi persecution left Berlin on 1 December 1938. The last left on September 1, 1939 - just two days before Great Britain's entry into the war, which marked the end of the programme. By that time, approximately 10,000 children had made the trip.

What a terrible dilemma those parents must have faced, sending their children to an unknown future. Many of them did not survive to see their children again seven years later at the end of the war. Of the six million who died in the concentration camps, a million and a half were children.

How traumatic it must have been for the children, leaving everything they knew and loved to go to a foreign country and have to learn a new language. It was hard enough for the British children who were evacuated within the country, it's hard to imagine how much harder it must have been for these children. The older children lived in hostels, others were lucky enough to have caring loving foster families although a small number were treated cruelly by foster families. Some eventually went to the USA and Canada.

It’s a magnificent story saving over 10,000 children but how sad we weren’t generous enough to take their parents.

You can get more information about this story on the following sites:

The Children Who Cheated the Nazis

Wiki


American website Kindertransport Association.

8 comments:

  1. I'm new here! What a great blog :) ♥ Hugs!

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  2. My husband and I were glued to the National Geographic channel tonight due to new photos that recently turned up showing the first transported Jewish people the moment they got off the train. One woman in particular was in more than one photo, and was the only member of her family to survive, due to the fact they pulled her aside and assigned her to work.

    It amazes me at the cruelty, but it also hurts me to realize that if they'd only known, there were enough of them at that time, to overpower those nazis and run like crazy. But while some humans are cruel beyond belief, the rest of us TRUST and HOPE, sometimes to the point of being annihilated.

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  3. Dear Winifred ~ ~ A great post about the Jewish children. I didn't know about that until now. Thank you.
    Thanks so much for your comments about my gazebo and garden setting. I will
    enjoy it when the weather is nice.
    Take care, my friend, Love, Merle.

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  4. Hello Winifred, Yes, I have heard of this. In fact I wanted to get a book from the library about it. There was a woman who risked her life many times for this cause of helping the children get to London. I've misplaced the newspaper clipping...maybe your links will have more reading suggestions. How tragic for those children and their families. In one account I read, when the child grew up and was reunited with his parents...nothing bonded between them...he felt they were strangers. Wouldn't that break your heart!~~~ The cherry tea I am enjoying is 'Rooibos' 'Wild Cherry' tea. It is a South African tea rich with Antioxidents...so they say on the can...quite tasty with sugar. I'm on a diet change and have been feeling wonderful due to it. Its simply cutting way back on sugar and flour. Ever try it? smile. I've heard of this for a long time and thought now is the time to try. Well worth it! I've way more energy except when I over-do it as I've done last week. Hope you are having a cozy day.Its really cold and windy here...no sunshine for the most part. Our wood-burner is very appreciated. I love cozy!

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  5. My word...I remember more about this now. I had this film I do believe and watched it and gave it to a friend! Very sad.

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  6. It is a really sad story and it must have been so hard for the children and the parents too. I can't imagine how they must have felt.

    The frost has let up today after 2 freezing cold but bright sunny days. We're up to 5C, 41F but it's miserable and raining. Tomorrow we have sun, cloud and scattered snow showers forecast.

    I've heard about that South African tea. My friend used to drink Green tea which I found very bitter. I'll look out for the cherry one as I am always on the look out for alternatives to coffee. SO far all I've found to my taste is ginger and lemon which is lovely in winter.

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  7. I just came here from Gramma Ann's and although I've found this post very interesting, I'm more keen to say what a delight it is to see someone who likes "Auf Wiedersehen Pet". I'm a Canadian, but my husband and I fell upon the show a few years ago and loved it! Sadly, it's not on anymore and we've missed all the early episodes, but it was wonderful and since my husband is a fan of the EPL football, we became Newcastle fans! I have a Newcastle sweatshirt and all.

    I'm signing up to follow you.

    Take care,

    Kat

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  8. Winifred,
    Thank you for sharing this heart wrenching story. I am so impressed with the beautiful memorial. The artist really put his? heart and soul into this creation. It is impossible to understand how any human being can commit such atrocities, but Hitler was a savage, evil,"monster", not human.

    Marjorie

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