The Kindertransport: What Really Happened

Posted on January 22, 2024

A new book reveals the darker side of the operation that rescued 10,000 children from Nazi Germany.

In the late 1930s, as the Nazis began targeting Jews and sending them to ghettos, work camps, and to their deaths, the British government came up with a plan to save Jewish children. They were going to introduce the Kindertransport, where unaccompanied minors who were under 17 years of age and from the German Reich could gain refugee status and enter Great Britain.

In between 1938 and 1940, around 10,000 children and young people fled from Germany, Austria, Poland, and Czechoslovakia on the Kindertransport to the UK. British child welfare organizations made sure the children would have shelter and education, and Jews, Quakers, and Christians worked together to ensure the safety and protection of these children. The Kindertransport was seen as a success story, and Great Britain was praised for its effort to save thousands of young Jewish refugees.

However, as time went on, stories came out that showed the darker side. And now, in her new book “The Kindertransport: What Really Happened” (Polity, Jan 2024), author Andrea Hammel is setting the record straight on the operation.