Posted on January 26, 2023
On 9 November 1938, the Nazis initiated a campaign of hatred against Jews in all Nazi territories, known as Kristallnacht. This was the eve of Gabriele’s 12th birthday and she remembers “dreadful screaming”. The next day she waited excitedly for her father to take her out to celebrate as arranged. “My father never appeared,” she said.
It had become increasingly clear that Gabriele’s life was in danger in Austria. “My grandmother was worried that I would be taken next,” she said.
And so her grandmother arranged for her to escape the country through the Kindertransport. And on 24 April 1939, Gabriele was one of 150 unaccompanied children, with labels around their neck to identify them, who left Vienna for the UK, not knowing if they would see their families again.
“My grandmother came to the station to wave me off. The parents had been told not to have any emotional scenes,” she said.
“I’ll always remember my grandmother waving and smiling as the train pulled away. I know now she was trying to give me her courage, and encourage me to believe everything was going to be ok. It makes me very, very sad to think about that day.
“I’ll always remember the sounds of them crying. We were all alone and some were only four years old. We stopped off at a station on the Germany-Holland border and there was a feast laid out for us – sandwiches, drinks and more along with toys. The people there comforted the crying children. I haven’t been able to find out the name of the station, but I’ll always remember their kindness.”