The KTA mourns the death of Carl Davis. A brilliant composer of music for films (including The French Lieutenant’s Woman, directed by Kind Karel Reisz), he wrote ‘Last Train to Tomorrow’ a Kindertransport piece for children’s chorus that the KTA, The New School & Mannes College of Music premiered in NYC in 2019 as part of our commemoration of the 80th year of the Kindertransports, at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center as part of 3 days of events.
Nearly 85 years have passed since the first Kindertransport from Nazi-occupied Europe. Despite abundant documentation that England’s accepted approximately 10,000 Jewish children, the stories of refugees’ travails and how their lives evolved are not nearly as well known. Kindertransport children contributed greatly to their adopted homeland and to society at large, despite traumatic separation from their families, varied placements as fostered or adopted children, evacuation to the countryside during the “Blitz,” and subsequent challenges.
Considering the odds against them, the extent to which those children lived full, successful lives is staggering. Artists, industrialists, businessmen, jurists, statesmen and others have served the United Kingdom and world well. This is not to imply that all refugee children’s experiences were positive; certainly, some were mistreated and exploited. Nevertheless, that individuals and families in a country under siege absorbed significant numbers of displaced strangers, and did so, overall, with kindness, is remarkable.
Dame Esther Rantzen has said a new film about “British Schindler” Nicholas Winton moved her to tears.
The television presenter, who recently revealed that she had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, brought the Jewish stockbroker’s remarkable story to light in 1988.
Forty nine years earlier, Winton had abandoned a planned skiing holiday to travel to Prague and help evacuate refugees.
Aware that tragedy was looming as the Nazis began to occupy the country, he travelled back to Britain to lobby the government to accept more Jewish children.
After the war, Winton moved on with his life and his story was largely forgotten until Dame Esther invited him onto That’s Life!
As he sat in the front row, she asked the audience if anyone had been saved by him, and dozens of people stood up.
When Dame Esther asked if anyone was a child or grandchild of one of the children brought to England thanks to Winton, the entire audience rose.
The account of how Winton helped 669 Jewish children escape will now be dramatised in a new film starring Anthony Hopkins and Johnny Flynn.
“Of all the literally thousands of stories we told in the 21 years of That’s Life, the one that showed the very best and the very worst of humanity was the revelation that Nicky Winton had saved a generation of Czech Jewish children from the Holocaust,” she told The Telegraph.
“I was worried about a feature film’s treatment. My fears were unjustified.
“From the moment I saw Anthony Hopkins looking and sounding almost exactly like Sir Nicholas, I knew the story would be told sensitively and accurately.”
Between 1939 and 1941, more than 200 Kindertransport children escaped war-torn Europe to Gwrych Castle in north Wales. There, the people looking after the youngsters developed a successful hachshara — an agricultural training scheme — for them.
While Kindertransport has been well researched, the focus has been very much on individual experiences.
By contrast, training centres such as the one at Gwrych Castle — better known these days for its starring role in I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here during lockdown — have been somewhat neglected; as one historian commented, they were “transient phenomena” that “left few traces on the ground”. Now my new book, Escape to Gwrych Castle, a Jewish Refugee Story, attempts to redress the balance.
The moment Nicholas Winton comes face to face with just a few of the Jewish children he saved from the Nazis on That’s Life, in 1988, is one of the most iconic clips in British television history.
Now the first photographs from an eagerly awaited film about the story leading up to that moment have been released.
Starring Anthony Hopkins and Johnny Flynn as older and younger versions of Winton, the man who saved 669 Jewish children from the Nazis through the Kindertransport project, and Helena Bonham Carter as his mother Babi, One Life will cement the Jewish stockbroker’s reputation as one of the heroes of the war effort.
The image of three little girls playing with a doll has, for decades, stared out from behind museum cabinets, their identities unknown.
Now, the mystery of who the three people in the black-and-white photograph are has finally been solved after 84 years.
The image, known for years as “three little girls”, is of three young Jewish girls fleeing Nazi Germany. It was taken at London’s Liverpool Street station and became a representative image of the mass evacuation of Jewish children from Hitler’s Germany via the Kindertransport in 1939.
The photograph comprises two sisters and another little girl holding a doll, however, they were all too young to remember each other.
A Holocaust survivor turned Second World War British army stalwart has received medals for her wartime service to Britain to mark her 100th birthday.
Henny Franks was handed the Defence Medal and HM Armed Forces Veteran Badge on Wednesday at a party held for her 100th birthday at Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivor Centre.
Henny escaped Nazi persecution as a teenager, leaving Cologne for Britain on the Kindertransport. A member of the women’s branch of the British Army, volunteering for the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) for many years, she had no idea she was entitled to receive medals for her galant service to her adopted country.
The importance of learning about the Holocaust cannot be overestimated, especially for Jewish students. With this in mind, the middle school students at the JEC have spent the past few weeks learning about different aspects of the Holocaust, taking a unique approach to this important, yet often difficult topic.
Each grade in the middle school had its own focus. The sixth grade students focused on individual stories of survivors with whom they had a bond. They conducted interviews of survivors or, if the survivor was no longer able to tell his or her story, a family member of the survivor. They then researched the key points of the story using the internet. The students then used the AI technology available on MyHeritage.com to have the survivor’s story come to life.
Seventh graders learned about the Kindertransport. They then used their knowledge to create a fictitious story about a child who went on the Kindertransport. These poignant stories incorporated the facts the students learned about this difficult time with their own creativity. Each story moved the viewer/reader, helping to understand the Kindertransport experience.
Eighth graders focused on the Jewish communities that were decimated by the Holocaust. The presentations showed what life in these communities was like before the war, told what happened to those who lived in the communities, and finally, what life is like there today.
After Kindertransport refugee Ben Abeles arrived in the UK from Prague aged 14, his father wrote to him begging him to get a good education so he would “count for somebody”.
More letters followed but within a year and a half, they dried up: both his father and mother were murdered in a Nazi death camp in Poland.
But Abeles turned his father’s words into a remarkable reality. He went on to become a pioneering scientist whose research into alloys changed space exploration. Now, a trove of documents belonging to Abeles — including the missive containing that plea to study “until your precious head hurts” — has been donated by his widow, Helen, to the University of Southampton, home to one of the largest Jewish archives in western Europe.
The Kindertransport monument in the Polish city of Gdansk, which had been in storage since 2019, has been restored to its former position in front of the central station.
Its return was marked by a ceremony this week attended by the mayor, Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, and Israel’s ambassador to Poland, Jacov Livne.
The monument, first unveiled in 2009, had been removed to make way for station renovations. It depicts children of different ages — three girls and two boys — standing with their luggage waiting for their train’s departure.
It is one of five such monuments by Israeli sculptor Frank Meisler, who was himself saved by the Kindertransport. The others stand in or near railway stations in London (unveiled in 2006), Berlin (2008), Rotterdam (2011) and Hamburg (2015).
Arundel Players are offering Kindertransport by Diane Samuels, directed by Gill Lambourn.
Director Gill explains: “Although English, Diane Samuels is of Jewish descent and Kindertransport is her seminal play inspired by the British offer in 1938 to provide German Jewish children the opportunity of a safe life in Britain albeit without their parents. The difficult and emotional decision is taken by Helga and Werner Schlesinger to send their nine-year-old daughter Eva to England. When Eva, a bright, lively and intelligent child, arrives in London she is fostered by the kindly Lil. We follow her life, learning about and settling into a new world, making friends and establishing a happy childhood whilst doing her utmost to maintain her links with her family and her hopes and plans for them to be reunited. Alongside this story, in 1980 we meet Faith a young woman who is about to leave home to live her adult life and is busy sorting and clearing through old family possessions deciding what might be useful to take with her. Helping her with this are her mother Evelyn and her grandmother. What she discovers in her rummaging has enormous and unforeseen impact on the relationships of the women, as all of the turmoil, trauma, love and conflict that resulted from such well meaning beginnings come to light.
“Often appearing on the exam syllabus, Kindertransport offers a wealth of material about life for German Jews prior to and during WW2 and the emotional impact of childhood trauma on survivors in later life. It is a beautifully written and observed play that is an emotional, intriguing and enjoyable evening of entertainment and an important work resulting from Samuel’s many interviews with Kindertransport survivors. It remains totally relevant today when war continues to affect people in countries around the world faced with agonising decisions to keep their children safe and give them the future they deserve.”
The production is at The Priory Playhouse, London Road, Arundel, BN18 9FA from Monday to Saturday, June 19-24; box office 07523 417926 or www.ticketsource.co.uk/arundelplayers.
A SPECIAL refugee week event will take place in Harwich for the first time following the installation of the town’s Kindertransport memorial.
The Harwich Kindertransport Memorial and Learning Trust said it will be holding a Refugee Week event for the first time in memory of the thousands of Jewish children who arrived in Harwich alone in the months before the Second World War erupted.
The event will take place on Friday, June 23, from 3.30pm to 6.30pm, following an initial gathering around the Kindertransport Memorial statue – Safe Haven – on Harwich Quay.
In Harwich, which was the first and main point of entry for thousands of unaccompanied Jewish child refugees, there will be a series of creative activities focused on life stories, books and poems by, about, and for child refugees.
Plans to regenerate of one of the busiest train terminals in the UK will ensure a greater focus on its iconic Holocaust refugee memorial.
As part of a wider £1.5 billion regeneration project, £450 million of upgrades to Liverpool Street Station would focus on addressing accessibility, capacity and overcrowding issues to improve the experience of its estimated 135 million annual station users.
In artist renderings seen by Jewish News, included in those proposed upgrades, the Kindertransport – The Arrival statue (2006) that serves as a memorial to the thousands of unaccompanied European Jewish children who fled to London on the Kindertransport in the Second World War, would be given greater space and prominence in an improved Hope Square.
Kindertransport is a play written by Diane Samuels that tells the story of the evacuation of Jewish children from Germany to England during World War II. The play focuses on the experiences of Evelyn, a young Jewish girl who is sent to England by her parents to escape the Nazi regime. The play explores themes of identity, family, and the impact of war on children. It has been performed in theaters around the world and is considered a powerful and moving portrayal of the Kindertransport program.
Clackamas Community College has the honor of hosting Jayne Stevens’ adaptation of the matinee play with shows at noon and 2:30 p.m. every weekend from May 24 through June 4 at the Clackamas Repertory Theatre.
The life story of a teenager who fled Nazi persecution on the Kindertransport and went on to become a world-renowned physicist is told through his archive, on show for the first time at the University of Southampton.
Photos, letters and documents that belonged to Ben Abeles make up the unique and fascinating collection.
The archive contains short telegram-style letters between a teenaged Ben, evacuated to London aged 14 on a Kindertransport train in 1939, and his family back in Czechoslovakia. One, addressed to Ben’s father Ernest and dated 29 September 1941, reads: “Am healthy. Working in kitchen. With Stefan’s help perhaps opening little snack bar. Love to you.”
The remarkable journey of Ben Abeles will be celebrated next week by the opening of a new archiv
Ben Abeles’ impact on science was out of this world. He helped develop alloys that were key components of the radioisotope generators that powered US robot space probes on their interplanetary journeys. Nasa was then able to reveal the wonders of the solar system, from the ancient river beds of Mars to the icy moons of Jupiter.
One of the devices is still in use, providing electricity for the Perseverance robot rover that currently trundles across the surface of the red planet.
Abeles was a brilliant scientist, yet his start in life could not have been grimmer. He arrived in Britain from Prague as a child refugee on the Kindertransport, the rescue effort that helped around 10,000 children flee Nazi-occupied Europe and settle in Britain.
Just before the outbreak of World War II, Britain took in over 10,000 mostly Jewish refugee children from Europe. The rescue effort was known as “Kindertransport.” Separated from their families and fostered out to British homes, most of the children never saw their parents again. Diane Samuels’ extraordinary play is about this emergency immigration and its effect over time on generations. Based on real accounts, centering on the experience of one child, Eva, “Kindertransport” tells a powerful story of survival.
Directed by Jayne Stevens, “Kindertransport” features a dynamic ensemble of Clackamas Community College students, with scenic and lighting design by Chris Whitten, and costumes by Allie Schluchter.
“Kindertransport” runs May 24-June 4, Wednesdays through Fridays, at 10 a.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30 p.m., in the Niemeyer Osterman Theatre, 19600 Molalla Ave., Oregon City.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors (62+) and free for students. Tickets are discounted by $1 if you purchase online. Visit www.clackamas.edu/theatre or call 503-594-3153 for reservations.
On 5 July 1939 Ingelore Czarlinski, 15, and her sister Marion, 11, two Jewish girls from Berlin arrived in Harwich, a port town in Essex, on the Kindertransport. Just nine years later, Ingelore (now Susan) was the first person in the world to hold the future King Charles in her arms.
Susan, who had coincidentally changed her surname to Charles, had followed in the footsteps of two of her aunts and trained to become a nurse. She got a job working for obstetrician Sir William Gilliatt, who was chosen by the young Princess Elizabeth to attend the birth of her first baby, by caesarean.
Marion wrote in the Association of Jewish Refugees magazine in September 2005: “On 14 November 1948 I invited my sister to tea at my flat in Clapham. The phone rang and an official voice asked her to ring a Whitehall number immediately. Soon after a car came for her. When she arrived at Buckingham Palace she prepared the princess for delivery. The senior nurse assisted Sir William with the operation and Susan waited in an ante room with Prince Philip, who told her she reminded him of the beautiful Greek girls he had known when he was young. Eventually she was called into the delivery room and given Prince Charles to hold until his grandmother, the Queen Mother, took him from her.”
PLAINVIEW, NY — Amid an unsettling time for Jews as acts of anti-Semitism are surging, the United Jewish Appeal paired dozens of Long Island teens with Holocaust survivors.
Due to the lack of remaining eyes from this vital part of world history, each survivor was grouped with a dozen or so students for the Witness Project.
One of the teens, Henry Kettner, is a 10th grader at Plainview-Old Bethpage-J.F.K. High School.
“I thought it would be a really good idea to try and pass on their stories to make sure that they’re never forgotten,” Kettner told Patch.
Kettner, 16, is the only student from his school participating in this program. He would meet his survivor Sabine Breier, who lives in Westbury, every two weeks at the Sid Jacobsen JCC in East Hills.
Even though Sabine was an infant when the Holocaust broke out for her family in Berlin, she brought plenty of perspective to the students.
“Each time she told us more and more about her story,” he said. “She had her older sister with her. [Sabine] got a lot of the stories from her.”
Sabine and her sister were saved by the Kindertransport, a rescue mission in Europe transporting children away from the Nazis.
They were brought to the U.K., living with foster families in England until Sabine was eight. Relatives arranged for her migration to the U.S. a year later with a Jewish family.
While Kettner, who is Jewish, has knowledge of the Holocaust, he was not familiar with the Kindertransport.
The time with Sabine will last a lifetime for Kettner, but for the project, it was culminating with conversations by many of the students Monday night at the Tilles Center.
“I feel it’s a good thing connecting to my roots. I think it’s a really good opportunity, even if you’re not Jewish,” Kettner said of the experience. “Their stories–they’re so insightful. I really enjoyed it.”
As Jews live with anti-Semitism as a reality in society, Kettner learned firsthand how it can spread with such serious consequences.
“It definitely shows what hatred can lead to and what the drawbacks and implications are of hatred,” he said.