Dr. Judith Grunfeld: The ‘Queen’ Who Was a Surrogate Mother to Many of the Kindertransport

Posted on June 24, 2022

The British government had decided that if it entered the war, it would evacuate children from London (which was bound to be the target of enemy bombs) to the safety of the English countryside.

Grunfeld knew how traumatic it would be for these children, who had recently been torn away from their parents. Many would never see them again, although at that time, the kids all still harbored hopes that their parents would arrive at any minute. Now she would have to take them away from their foster families and settle them in yet another strange house.

The code word for the evacuation, which Grunfeld hoped she would never hear, was “Pied Piper tomorrow,” which would mean that all schools had to prepare the children for evacuation the following day.

The code word was broadcast on the radio on Thursday, Aug. 31, 1939. The following day, Grunfeld boarded one of the eight buses filled by the pupils of her school. Only when they were all on board did the officer in charge tell her she was headed to Shefford. This was the first indication she had of where she and 400 Jewish children would be spending their lives until the end of the war.

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