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The Kindertransports

The Kindertransports

 

A Jewish child resting enroot from Nazi Germany

The history of the Kindertransports is a poignant tale of rescue, separation,  loss and integration following the persecution of the Jews in the Nazi Reich and countries annexed by the Germans during the latter part of 1938.

 

Following the Kristallnacht outrage against the Jews on the 9 November 1938 as a response to what was happening to the Jews in the Reich a debate was held in the House of Commons as a direct result of an appeal by the British Jewish Refugee Committee.

 

The British Government had just refused to allow 10,000 Jewish children to enter Palestine, but with the atrocities in Germany, there was a change of heart, best expressed by the words of British Foreign Minister Samuel Hoare, “Here is a chance of taking the young generation of a great people, here is a chance of mitigating to some extend the terrible suffering of their parents and their friends.”

 

The British Government agreed to permit an unspecified number of children under the age of 17 to enter the United Kingdom. The children were allowed to enter the British Isles on temporary travel documents, with the belief that the children would re-join their parents at a later date, when things returned to normal.

However it was private citizens or organizations had to guarantee to pay for each child's care, education, and eventual emigration from Britain. In return for this guarantee, the British government agreed to allow unaccompanied refugee children to enter the country on temporary travel visas. It was understood at the time that when the “crisis was over,” the children would return to their families.

 

Parents or guardians could not accompany the children. The few infants included in the program were tended by other children on their transport.  A £50 Sterling bond had to be posted for each child, “to assure their ultimate resettlement.”

 

A number of people and organisations rose to the immense challenge of organising the transports, Jews, Christians and Quakers worked together to get the children out of Germany and the annexed territories.

 

Lola Hahn with Chaim Weitzmann

The framework for the refugee operation was formed by Lola Hahn – Warburg several years earlier, Lord Baldwin, Rebecca Sieff, Sir Wyndham Deeds, Viscount Samuel, Rabbi Solomon Schoenfeld, who saved approximately 1,000 Orthodox children.

 

In addition Nicholas Winton rescued nearly 700 Jewish children in Prague, Professor Bentwich organiser of the Dutch escape routes and the Quaker leaders Bertha Bracey and Jean Hoare (cousin of Sir Samuel Hoare) who herself led a planeload of children out of Prague.

 

According to a scrapbook Winton kept, 664 children came to Great Britain on transports that he organized. In the research compiled for the documentary “The Power of Good: Nicholas Winton,” aired on Czech television in 2002, researchers identified five additional persons who entered Britain on a Winton-financed transport, bringing the official number to 669 children. The available information indicates that some children who were rescued have not yet been identified.

Read more here: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/holoprelude/kindertransport.html

The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

www.HolocaustResearchProject.org

Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2009

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