KTA Book Talk Andrea Hammel, The Kindertransport: what really happened


January 23, 2024    
1:00 pm EST - 2:30 pm EST

Event Type

The KTA is delighted to welcome longtime friend Andrea Hammel to discuss her new book, The Kindertransport: What Really Happened. In 1938 and 1939, some 10,000 children and young people fled to the UK to escape Nazi persecution. Known as the ‘Kindertransport’, this effort has long been hailed as a wartime success story – but there are uncomfortable truths at its heart.

The Kindertransport was a complex visa waiver scheme, and its organizers did not necessarily act with altruism. The British government required a guarantee to indemnify itself against any expenses, and refused to admit the child refugees’ parents. The selection criteria prioritized those who were likely to make the best contribution to society, rather than the most urgent cases. And some children and young people were placed in unsuitable homes, where many arrangements irrevocably broke down.

Written with striking empathy and insight, Andrea Hammel’s expert analysis casts new light on what really happened during the Kindertransport. Revelatory and impassioned, this book will be essential reading for anyone interested in the history of migration and refugees, and offers thought-provoking lessons for how we might make life easier for children fleeing conflict today.

Andrea Hammel is Professor of German and the Director of the Centre for the Movement of People at Aberystwyth University. She has researched refugees from National Socialism who fled to the UK for over 20 years. She led a project on Refugees from National Socialism in Wales: Learning from the Past for the Future which involved co-curators who are refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Kuwait resulting in an exhibition which has been showing at Aberystwyth, the Senedd, the Houses of Parliament and in Bangor (see also: Finding Refuge: Stories of the men women and children who fled to Wales to escape the Nazis, 2022) . Andrea Hammel has co-written two reports on Adverse Childhood Experiences and Child Refugees of the 1930s which were presented to the Welsh Government.