She was born Rosel Lerner on May 30, 1922, in Worms, south of Frankfurt. Her parents were immigrants from Poland. In 1938, when the family was living in Ludwigshafen, her father was arrested and imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp. Speaking only German and Yiddish, she was sent to Britain on one of the last Kindertransport trains that carried Jewish children out of Germany.
Ruth Westheimer was 10 years old in 1939, when she boarded a train leaving Germany with 300 other Jewish children. She brought along one doll, a favorite named Matilda. But a younger child was crying inconsolably, so Westheimer gave the little girl her doll. Because, she says, “she needed it more.” Today Dr. Ruth, America’s favorite sex therapist, is 88. She lives in a New York apartment teeming with books and photos and honorary degrees.
Seventy-eight years ago this week, on December 2, 1938, the first Kindertransport left Germany. In the following months over 10,000 mostly Jewish children were saved from Nazi-occupied territories, because their parents were willing to separate from them. In England they were placed in foster families, schools and shelters. After the war, many of these children emigrated to the United States.
For more than a decade, Holocaust survivor and KTA member Dave Lux has been traveling around Southern California telling people about his experience as one of the 669 children on a Kindertransport from Czechoslovakia, a rescue effort before World War II that saved nearly 10,000 Jewish children in Austria, Czechoslovakia and Germany.
Child refugees sent from the demolished Calais “jungle” to supposedly safe welcome centres across France claim they have been pressed into forced labour. Legal interviews by the charity Safe Passage UK with unaccompanied minors dispersed from the refugee camp to France’s official reception centres have uncovered allegations that children have been forced into unpaid work. Youngsters said they were too scared to refuse because they feared it would harm their chances of asylum to the UK.
What is it in life that inspires or compels each of us to tell our stories? Is it the realization that we, too, have lived important historical events? Or is it something much more personal? And if we have an important story that we have kept hidden for a time, what circumstances create the breakthrough moment of revealing, sharing, and confronting that story? Each time I read my mother’s 1988 article about what happened to her on Kristallnacht, I struggle anew with these questions.
Two men who came to Britain as child refugees in the 1930s spoke out for the refugee children of today at London Liverpool Street last night Friday. Labour lord Alf Dubs and Professor Leslie Brent came as part of the “Kindertransport” trains fleeing the Nazis. Dubs said, “I was six years old when I arrived at this very station, but the cause of refugee children continues.”
Snapshot: My father with other Kindertransport boys These boys were photographed in 1939 in the garden of 47 Lytton Grove, Putney, in south London. At the centre of the group with a cheeky grin, side-parting and spotty tie is my father, Hans, and second from left, back row, with penny specs, is his elder brother, Wolfgang.
On the morning of Nov. 10, 1938, a date that would come to be known as Kristallnacht, 14-year-old Lore Rosen (nee Baron) left for school from the fifth-floor, walk-up apartment where she lived with her mother in Mannheim, Germany. Just outside, the owner of the small grocery next door suddenly intercepted her. “Go to the Jewish old-age home and stay with your mother,” the woman instructed. Lore asked her why. “Just run and go,” she replied.
Former HIAS client, Kindertransport survivor and refugee advocate Manfred Lindenbaum attended the Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis, convened on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly by President Obama. The next morning, Lindenbaum, 84, was interviewed live on Democracy Now!, sharing his personal experiences as a refugee and responding to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s son’s comparison of Syrian refugees to poisoned Skittles.
British beneficiaries of the Kinder-transport programme have begun raising funds to help the scores of unaccompanied refugee children stranded in Calais. Almost 80 years after Britain sanctioned a mission to help children escape the antisemitic aftermath of Kristallnacht, Britain’s Jewish community is raising funding to evacuate at least 120 child refugees identified as having the legal right to be reunited with their families in the UK who remain trapped in northern France.
In her blog, the Wiener Library’s Digital Engagement Manager Jessica Green discusses letters written from children on the first Kindertransport to their families back in Germany. On 1 December 1938, approximately 200 unaccompanied German-Jewish child refugees boarded a train towards the Hook of Holland, where a ferry carried them to their new home in England. While in transit, they wrote postcards back home to their families.
Ilse, a native of Vienna, is interviewed on a recent visit. In German.
A memorial service has been held for Sir Nicholas Winton, who rescued hundreds of children from the Holocaust in the months before World War Two. Some 28 of those he saved as children were among 400 people who attended the event at London’s Guildhall, along with Czech, Slovak and UK government representatives. Sir Nicholas organised the “Kindertransport” in which 669 mostly Jewish children came to Britain by train from Czechoslovakia in 1939. He died on 1 July last year, aged 106.
Abrahamson is remembered most for two big contributions. One is his four decades of work at the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources — known after 1966 as the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. The other is the part he played in the creation of the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board in 1982.
In her suburban London row house, Margit Goodman, 94, sits wrapped in blankets in her favorite recliner. She was a girl of 17 when she first came to Britain, escaping from her native Prague just before the Germans invaded. She remembers the exact date: June 5, 1939. The Goodmans and a number of former evacuees, are lobbying the U.K. to do the same for unaccompanied Syrian children who are in Europe.
The peer who fled the Nazis, aged six, on Labour’s troubles – and his attempts to make the government accept 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees.
In the fall of 1939, Kohn left his native Vienna on one of the last transports of children to England, where he was interned as an “enemy alien.” The following year he was shipped to Canada, where he subsequently joined the Canadian army as an infantryman. His parents, Salomon and Gittel Kohn, died in Auschwitz.
With the government refusing to let 3,000 child refugees enter the UK, Guardian readers tell how they escaped the Holocaust – and why Britain must step up again.
A Holocaust survivor who became founding director of the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara, Kohn helped make it possible to calculate more accurately how electrons flowed through materials. Decades later, scientists used his theories in computer modeling of complex molecules. “Physics isn’t what I do; it is what I am,” Kohn once said. He also had wide-ranging intellectual and humanitarian interests, and questioned where scientific advancement was taking the world.