How a Kindertransport Saved and Shaped My Mother-in-Law’s Life

Posted on November 1, 2022

Watching Ukrainian women and children flee Putin’s death machine as men remain to fight evokes a heart-rending image from my family narrative 84 years ago.

In 1939, my wife’s maternal grandparents parted from their beloved daughters, Gertrud, 8, and Erika, 10, at the railroad station in Graz, Austria. The girls boarded a kindertransport (transport for children) to Sweden. Barred from the platforms as Jews, their parents strained for a final glimpse at their departing daughters.

Trude and Maja, 1939

Sundering the Silber family devastated the adults and bewildered the girls but it saved the daughters from the Holocaust. It also imbued Gertrud, called Trude, who would be my mother-in-law, with lifelong pangs of abandonment and want. Too young to comprehend the situation, she could not understand the absolute necessity of her parents’ action. She did not experience it as an act of love.

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