Kaddish in London

In 1988 Bertha Leverton, a Kindertransport child from Munich living in London, began to plan a local 50th anniversary reunion of the Kindertransports. The news spread and the local gathering became an international reunion. In the years after World War II, Kinder gathered together. Kindertransport Survivors who had lived in the same hostel, school, foster home, farm, even a castle (200 Kindertransportees spent the war years in Grych Castle in Northern Wales) held reunions over the years, creating and sustaining family ties. However, it wasn’t until 1988, that Bertha Leverton had the idea to hold a reunion for everyone who had fled their childhood homes via Kindertransport. In June 1989 over 1,200 people, Kinder (as they now called themselves) with spouses and children, arrived from all parts of the United Kingdom, Israel, the United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries including Nepal. They came to see and find old friends, to rejoice in their survival, to thank the people of Britain, to say Kaddish for the thousands of parents who with the strength of love had sent their children away to live, with the inner knowledge that they themselves might not. The majority of Kinder had never seen their parents again.

In a letter read at this first major reunion of Kinder in England, Baroness Thatcher, then the Prime Minister of England, wrote “I am pleased and proud that the Government of the time offered you refuge and help, following the dreadful persecution you suffered in Germany and Central Europe. You came to us as homeless children and grew up to enrich the life of this country with your courage and fortitude.”

From London to New York

The North American Kinder returned enthused from the London reunion and wanted to maintain their new and renewed associations. Eddy Behrendt in New York conceived of and, with the help of a few others, formed and launched the Kindertransport Association in 1990. Approximately 2,500 Kinder had emigrated to the United States and Canada, and the response was immediate. Hundreds of Kinder and their spouses and children joined the new organization. The KTA invited Bertha Leverton as an honored guest to the first KTA conference held in October 1990.