The Kindertransport Quilts are a form of folk art that allows multiple artists, each with their own artistic expression, to produce an individual work with a unifying theme. Each square expresses its creator’s view of the Kindertransport experience: pictures of the past, fears and nightmares, memorials to lost family. They express traumatic childhood experiences, as recalled with the perspective of maturity. Members of the Second Generation have made squares memorializing their family. The panels of the quilts show a great variety of expressions.
The quilts include children’s drawings of trains, one captioned, “Thank You for Saving Grandma’s Life.” Some panels picture the all-important travel documents. Most poignant, perhaps, is a child’s drawing of her mother behind barbed wire waving good-bye, and a photo taken on the station platform, labeled “The Last Time I Saw My Parents.” Were I to have the skill to design a panel, I would show myself, a lonely child, reaching out to my Austrian birth parents with one hand, and my English foster-parents with the other. I was one of the very lucky ones; not only was I reunited with my parents after the war, but I gained loving English foster-parents, and an English brother. However, remnants of the separation trauma linger on.
We are all grateful to Kirsten Grosz for having produced these quilts, touching and artistic reminders of the Holocaust.
-Kurt Fuchel, Past-President Kindertransport Association of North America
To learn more about the quilts and listen to the individual Kindertransport memories that accompany each quilt square, click on a quilt, below, and then on an individual square. Some of the voices you will hear are those of the actual Kinder who created these quilts.
Four quilts have been produced by Kindertransport Association members and the Kindertransport Memory Quilts have been loaned on a permanent basis to the Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus by Kirsten Grosz and her family, in memory of Hanus Grosz, the Kinder, and their brave parents.
Three Kindertransport Quilt replicas, true to size at 70″ tall, beautifully printed on sturdy vinyl cloth, are available for exhibition in Holocaust Museums and Study Centers, Universities, Jewish Community Centers, and synagogues. For availability and more information email us.
by Kirsten Grosz (2008)
My husband, Hanus Grosz, came to England in 1939 on a Kindertransport from Czechoslovakia. He was 15 and his brother, Karel, was one year younger. They grew up in the city of Brno in Czechoslovakia, where their father was a dermatologist. In England they were placed on a farm. The boys knew no English so the farmers wife gave them language lessons. Hanus became a garage mechanic, and his brother a carpenter. They worked until they were old enough to join the British Forces, whereupon Hanus joined the Royal Air Force and Karel the Army. After having served in the Air Force, an ex-service grant gave Hanus the opportunity to get a free University education. He studied medicine and became a physician, the fourth generation in his family to do so.
Hanus spoke very little about his experiences of leaving his parents and never seeing them again and adjusting to a foreign country. Our daughter, Anita, seeking to learn more of her fathers history, joined the Kindertransport Association and in 1996 she came up with the idea of making a Kindertransport Memory Quilt. Since I am interested in quilt making she asked me to be the coordinator. Guidelines on how to make a quilt square were published in the Kinderlink, the Kindertransport Associations quarterly newsletter. With each square submitted, we asked for a page describing the persons experience with the Kindertransport.
The squares started to come in. These were very moving moments for me, reading the descriptions of leaving home and first impressions of the new country. I assembled the squares, choosing the colors of the Israeli flag as the background. An Amish woman did the quilting. Today we have 65 squares, made into three large quilts and two smaller ones. Several Kinder told me that they had wanted to make a square, but they found it was too emotionally difficult. It brought up too many memories that they would rather keep buried.
The Kindertransport Memory Quilt book, which presents each square, in color, with its story is available through the Kindertransport Association. The first edition sold out, and we had the books reprinted.
The Kindertransport Memory Quilts are permanently housed at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, near Detroit, Michigan.
I hope the quilts will communicate to visitors the heart and soul that went into each square as they were made, and help to show that the Kinder survived due to the generosity of the country and the people in England who accepted the children when many other countries refused.
For more information on The Kindertransport Memory Quilts contact us or email firstname.lastname@example.org.