Eddy (Edward) Behrendt, Founder of the Kindertransport Association, a Holocaust Survivor and Next Generations organization, passed away on November 9, 2005 from multiple organ failure in Eugene, Oregon. His beloved wife Sarah was by his side. “I found it more then symbolic that he died on Kristallnacht.” His fervor for the world to know and accept responsibility for the mass annihilation of a people was overwhelming.
Eddy Behrendt was born January 30, 1930 in the Free City of Danzig, which after World War II was renamed Gdansk. Prior to WWII although a Free City under the jurisdiction of the League of Nations, the culture and language of Danzig was predominantly German. In fact, in the early 1930’s, the rise of Nazism was stronger in Danzig than on many parts of Germany.
In 1939, at the age of 9, Eddy, being of Jewish faith, was one of 10,000 young children who escaped with their lives from the Holocaust just prior to beginning of the war via the Kindertransport, which took him to safety in England. Eddy lived in England until he was 16, when he found his Mother, who had escaped illegally to Palestine (now Israel). At 17 he came to the United States as his father, who had been a prominent attorney in Danzig, was living in New York City. Eddy was allowed to enter this country as a derivative citizen.
He served 4 years in the U.S. Army, as a member of the Trust Tankers stationed in Trieste, Italy. This Army group was under the auspices of the U.N. Security Council during the Korean Conflict. Eddy holds an undergraduate and graduate degree and retired as Senior Director of Corporate Personnel with American Home Products (Wyeth) Corporation in NYC in 1993.
In 1989 Eddy Behrendt founded and became the first President of the Kindertransport Association. He saw the Kindertransport as a part of Holocaust history that had truly never been explored. With the help of the Simon Wiesenthal Center the KTA began searching for the Kindertransport children who had come to the United States. It took every waking hour, many letters, money, and dedication but within a year these children, now on their way to being seniors, met in the Catskills in October 1990, for a Reunion of emotional proportions. Over 500 Kinder and family members attended.
After he retired, the gavel was turned over to others. Eddy and his wife first moved to the Phoenix/Scottsdale area where he served on the Board of the Phoenix Holocaust Survivors Association. In 1995, he and his wife Sarah went to Eugene, Oregon for a vacation and fell in love with the ambiance and University town life style and stayed.
Once settled in Eugene, they decided to form another organization to provide education for all students 10 years old to college level regarding WWII and the atrocities millions had become victim to. It was called “Reach and Teach.” Eddy and his wife Sarah hit the road in their motor home and traveled for over four years back and forth across the country teaching youth in our school system the facts about Holocaust history and related events. He also taught this history on-line and was able to reach several thousand students from all over the world. Eddy was also an adviser to the Committee on the Genocide and Intolerance of the National Council of Teachers in English and has written and presented papers on Holocaust education worldwide.
He leaves his wife Sarah, the families, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren as well as his brother, sister-in-law and many beloved friends, colleagues and students. A Memorial service took place on November 9, 2006 at his crypt in Eugene, Oregon.
A Memorial Fund is being established and contributions may be sent to the; Eddy Behrendt Memorial, 1574 Coburg Rd. Eugene, Or. 97401. “May his memory be a blessing to all who knew and loved him.”
Read “The First Step” — Eddy Behrendt’s Kinder-Link article about the founding of the KTA.