Sir Erich Reich, who arrived in the UK aged four, and whose parents were subsequently murdered at Auschwitz, said the government had “gone back on its word” to bring in 3,000 unaccompanied children to the UK for safe haven.
In the months before the start of World War II, 10,000 mostly Jewish children were saved on a “Kindertransport” or children’s transport. Now these “children” are making their voices heard to fight for current refugees hoping to come to America.
In one corner of the Jewish community, reaction to the Trump ban on immigration has traveled quickly. Almost as soon as the ban on people from seven Muslim-majority nations entering the U.S. went into effect, an organization made up of mostly Jews who were rescued from the Holocaust via transport to Great Britain, and their descendants, circulated to its members a letter of protest addressed to President Trump. “We write to urge you to keep the doors open to refugees,” said the letter.
Connecting to the plight of these children, the Kindertransport letter to the president points out that “in the months just before the start of World War II, nearly 10,000 children were sent from Nazi Germany, Austria, Poland, and Czechoslovakia to Great Britain. These children’s lives – our lives, and our parents’ and grandparents’ lives – were saved by the Kindertransport movement.”
From 1938 to 1940, England accepted about 10,000 child refugees from Germany and other German-annexed territories, under a program called the Kindertransport. Meanwhile, in the United States, a congressional bill to accept 20,000 child refugees under a similar program died in committee, because one of the arguments against the bill was that accepting children without their parents was contrary to the laws of God.
A Derby Holocaust survivor has spoken of his “extremely lucky” escape in a heartfelt video aimed to tell the city’s students the true horror of the horrific Nazi regime. As part of his special visit, which took place to mark National Holocaust Memorial Day, the inspirational survivor, from Alvaston, also spoke of his life in front of the camera for a video filmed by the university.
There were times when Gerald Wiener tried to forget everything about his homeland. Nobody could have been more anti-German than I was, from the day I arrived,” he said. “I never wanted to speak German, I never wanted to know anything about Germany. I wanted to become British. I wanted to assimilate.”
A memorial recognising the agonising moral choice made by parents of the 669 mostly Jewish children sent away is to be constructed in Prague’s main railway station, from where eight evacuation trains departed in the spring and summer of 1939, after Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia.
Holocaust Memorial Day is a time of great reflection for many of us across the country. Today I will think about the Jewish family members and friends I left behind in Prague when I was put on a train to London Liverpool Street at six years old; about the courage of men and women who helped children such as me escape on the Kindertransport just months before the Nazi occupation; and I will think about the millions killed because they couldn’t flee.
“At the time I didn’t understand why I was being sent like a parcel with a label to a strange country, with strange people and a strange language. But I know because of that I survived, when others didn’t. I think I have spent my life making sure that it was worthy of that survival.” These are the words of Dame Stephanie Shirley who managed to escape the horrors of the Nazis, by securing a place on a Kindertransport, and make a new life in the West Midlands.
Their 11th-hour escape on the eve of the second world war became the stuff of legend, earning international recognition for the man who organised it, Sir Nicholas Winton. Now people spirited out of German-occupied Czechoslovakia when they were children are to pay homage to previously unsung heroes in the affair – the parents who boarded them on to Winton’s “kindertransport” trains bound for Britain in a desperate attempt to save them from the Nazis.
The Mayor of Newham said: “During World War II, this city and this country came to the aid of thousands of Jewish children escaping Nazism through the Kindertransport, but it is absolutely undeniable that the British Government did too little to prevent and alleviate suffering during the Holocaust.” Sir Robin Wales said that Newham “absolutely stands ready to do our bit and to do our share” with the current refugee crisis from Syria.
The duo are Bernd Koschland, who escaped persecution by coming to Britain as a child on the Kindertransport, and Gerald Granston, who fled Germany on the SS St Louis cruise liner and received a British Empire Medal in the New Year’s honours for his services to Holocaust education.
Dancing on a Powder Keg: The Intimate Voice of a Young Mother and Author, Her Letters Composed in the Lengthening Shadow of Hitler’s Third Reich; Her Poems from the Theresienstadt Ghetto,” by Ilse Weber (translated from German by Michal Schwartz). Bunim & Bannigan. 340 pages. $34.95 It is unlikely that you have ever heard of Ilse Weber. But once you know her story, her name will be seared into your heart.
Lord Dubs was one of 10,000 children rescued by the Kindertransport, an organised British effort to rescue Jews from Nazi Germany and elsewhere in Europe during the 1930s. He will speak at the British Library Theatre in Euston Road from 9–10am on Friday, January 27
Harry Grenville will be at Dorchester’s Corn Exchange on Friday, January 27, for the free event starting at 12.30pm. It is being organised by the South West Dorset Multicultural Network and features several speakers during the hour-long commemoration.
Mr Deutsch, who lived at Surbiton Avenue, Southchurch, visited schools and various organisations delivering talks about his life and working tirelessly to commemorate and educate people about the Holocaust across the country.
80 years after he escaped Europe on Kindertransport, Lord Alfred Dubs criticizes new criteria for asylum seekers. Nearly 80 years since he arrived from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, Labor politician Lord Alfred Dubs said he did not believe his adopted country has lost its willingness to help youngsters fleeing persecution.
At 12 years old, longtime KTA member Anne Fox was sent to England, where her brother had gone a year before, via the Kindertransport. Her experience growing up in Nazi Germany and being separated from her parents, whom she never saw again, served as inspiration for her first of many books, My Heart in a Suitcase. The memoir was turned into a play which is performed in schools across the USA today. Anne attended local productions of the play, so students could meet her and ask questions.