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STORY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE
STORY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE
For more information go to Krisallnacht
The Holocaust was the single-most traumatic event for the Jewish people in the 20th century, but there is some disagreement over the exact date on which it started.
In recognition of the evolving nature of the genocide, the date most frequently associated with the start of the Holocaust is January 30, 1933: This is when Adolf Hitler was appointed German chancellor, setting in motion what would become the Nazi genocide against the Jews. The end of the Holocaust is usually thought to be May 8, 1945, or VE (Victory in Europe) Day, when the Allies formally accepted Germany’s unconditional surrender, ending World War II on the Continent, although fighting continued in the Far East.
When Does Persecution Become Genocide?
A major turning point in Nazi policy toward Jews was the coordinated attacks by the Sturmabteilung (or SA, the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party) against Jews and Jewish institutions and businesses throughout Germany and Austria on November 9-10, 1938 – an event known as Kristallnacht or the Night of the Broken Glass, due to the large amount of shattered windows at Jewish properties in its aftermath. At least 91 Jews were killed in the violence, and 30,000 were arrested and interned in concentration camps (but not extermination camps). Over 900 synagogues and 7,000 Jewish businesses were severely damaged or destroyed.
On November 15, 1938, following the violence of Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938, a delegation of British Jewish leaders, including Lord Bearstead, the Chief Rabbi, Neville Laski Rothschild and Chaim Weizmann, appealed in person to the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain.
The British government eased immigration restrictions for certain categories of Jewish refugees, agreeing to permit an unspecified number of children under 17 years of age to enter Great Britain from Germany and German-annexed Austria and Czech lands.
Private citizens or organizations had to guarantee to pay for each child's care, education, and eventual emigration from Britain. in return for the British government's agreement to allow unaccompanied refugee children to enter the country on temporary travel visas, with the understanding that that when the crisis was over, the children would return to their families.
Parents or guardians could not accompany the children.
Most Kindertransports, or Refugee Children Movement. left by train from Berlin, Wien, Prague, and other major cities in Central Europe, and the children from smaller towns and villages travelled to the collection points in order to join the transports.
Jewish organizations in Greater Germany, specifically the Reich Representation of Jews in Berlin (and after early 1939,the Reich Association of Jews in Germany, its successor organization), and the Kultusgemeinde (Jewish Community Organization) in Wien, planned the transports.
Children on the Kindertransport convoy travelled by train to ports in Belgium and the Netherlands, from where they sailed to Harwich.
At least one of the early Kindertransports left from Hamburg, and some children from Czechoslovakia were flown directly to Britain.
Several organizations and individuals participated in the rescue operation.
In Britain, the Movement for the Care of Children from Germany, headed by Elaine Laski and Lola Hahn Warburg, coordinated many of the rescue efforts, while Jews, Quakers, and Christians of several denominations worked together to bring refugee children to Britain.
About half of the children lived with foster families.
The others stayed in hostels, schools, or on farms throughout Britain.
Children without sponsors were housed at facilities such as a summer camps in Dovercourt Bay and Pakefield, until individual families agreed to care for them or until hostels could be organized to care for larger groups of children.
The Reichsvertretung in Berlin and the Kultusgemeinde in Austria set up offices to handle the thousands of requests by parents,
Traveling by train via Holland, and by boat on to Harwich, required extra permission for passage through Holland, which was granted.
Dennis Cohen and his wife went to Berlin to help with the arrangement of travel documents, railway carriages had to be reserved, assembling the children for departure, directions for boarding on route to Dutch border, Jewish and Christian Committees to meet trains at the border and see to the departure by boat to England.
A Nazi edict that barred Jews from using the tramways or having access to railway stations and German ports nearly prevented the children taking the Kindertransport opportunity, but, many Quaker representatives were present at stations ready to organise the travel, and often, the Quakers travelled as far as the Hook of Holland, ensuring that the children made their connection to London; and Quakers at Liverpool Street Station ensured that there was someone to receive and care for each child.
With 24 hours notice of the date and time of their departure, the Reichsvertretung assembled 200 children, a number of whom had been living in the children home in Fehrbeliner Strasse and other orphanages in Berlin that were destroyed, plus some from Hamburg and from Breslau.
The teachers,and escorts who accompanied the children, were compelled by the German government, to return to Germany, included Rudolf Melitz, Martha Wertheim, Norbert Wollheim.
On December 1, 1938, the first Kindertransport departed Berlin for Hook van Holland.
On December 2, 1938, the first Kindertransport arrived in Harwich, bringing 196 children from a Jewish orphanage in Berlin which had been destroyed on Kristallnacht.
On December 10, 1938, the first Kindertransport departed Wien.
In 1939, Nicholas Winton arranged the Czech Kindertransport, eight trains in all, to take refugee children to foster families in Britain.
On September 1, 1939, the last Kindertransport departed Germany.
On September 1, 1939, a ninth Czech Kindertransport train arranged by Nicholas Winton, was scheduled to leave Prague, carrying 250 additional children, but the borders closed when the Germans invaded Poland.
The children did not survive the war.
On May 14, 1940, the day the Dutch army surrendered to Germany, the freighter, Bodegraven, the last Kindertransport, sailed from Amsterdam for England, carrying 80 children.
On May 14, 1940, raked by machinegun fire from German war planes, and had at least one death on board, SS Bodegraven landed at Liverpool.
In 1940, Britain interned about 1,000 children from the Kindertransport, as enemy aliens, on the Isle of Man.
400 of the enemy alien children were transported to internment camps in Canada and Australia.
Some of the boys from the Kindertransport, later joined the British Army, and fought in the war against Germany.
QUAKERS AND KINDERTRANSPORT
Quakers in Britain
The Germany Emergency Committee of the Religious Society of Friends was set up in 1933, shortly after Hitler came to power. This committee, alongside other groups, was responsible for helping Jewish children escape Nazi persecution in Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Poland. It then supported them in the countries to which they had fled. This is known as the Kindertransport.
The GEC began as part of 'substantial British Quaker work' done after 1933 in Nazi Germany. The GEC worked in conjunction with the Friends Service Council to report on conditions inside Germany. The committee helped prisoners and families persecuted for racial, religious, and political reasons. In Britain, they assisted refugees with employment sponsorship, training, education, and re-emigration.
Bertha Bracey was appointed Secretary for the Germany Emergency Committee in 1933. Before 1933 Bracey was responsible for Quaker relief operations in Germany and the Netherlands.
The GEC also assisted in the evacuation of refugees to the free port of Shanghai. Before 1939, the port city was a destination for refugees able to escape from Italy. Shanghai was the only city in the world where refugees could enter without a visa. Jewish relief organisations and individual Quakers provided funds for refugees until 1940.
1938: Post-Kristallnacht lobbying of the British government
Getting the word out across Europe
Work in local Quaker communities in Britain
End of the Kindertransport
Post-World War II Germany
1938: POST-KRISTALLNACHT LOBBYING OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT
Kristallnacht - also known as the night of broken glass - took place on 9 November 1938. Jewish shops, buildings, and synagogues were destroyed throughout Nazi-controlled territory. Homes, schools, and hospitals were also targeted in the pogrom. Ninety-one Jewish men died and 30,000 arrested and taken to concentration camps.
The violence of Kristallnacht signalled that Jewish people were in immediate danger. A consortium of British Jews arranged for six Quaker volunteers to travel to Berlin to observe the immediate situation.
During this period, Bertha Bracey met with Wilfred Israel in Berlin. He introduced her to the heads of Jewish women's organisations from across Germany. These meetings were crucial to the success of the Kindertransport.
The Berlin report concluded that unaccompanied children should be granted entry into Britain. It was given to the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, who refused the request.
I ask you to come to the aid of victims not of any catastrophe in the natural world, nor of flood, nor of famine but of an explosion of man's inhumanity of man.
- Stanley Baldwin, radio appeal, 1933
In response to Chamberlain, a joint Quaker and Jewish delegation met with the Home Secretary, Samuel Hoare. The government's response was to: 'give the necessary visas and facilitate entry into this country'. The lobbying was successful and the government announced it would permit an unspecified number of children to enter the UK.
The children were labelled 'transmigrants' and a £50 bond was required for each child. On 8 December, Stanley Baldwin issued a radio appeal to the British public. Baldwin's public compassion for the children helped wider public support grow.
GETTING THE WORD OUT ACROSS EUROPE
A network of Quaker and refugee organisations issued statements in many communities in central Europe. Parents were able to register their children for the transports in various offices. These offices issued travel papers which allowed the children to pass to Britain through the Netherlands.
Quakers and the Refugee Children's Movement sent notices to cities from Stuttgart to Prague. Jewish Community Centres were also crucial to getting the news of the transports to parents and communities. The large Jewish communities in Prague and Vienna were key in coordinating the evacuation of children from these areas. Within days of the announcement, thousands of children had signed up to leave on the first transports.
Trains packed with children left European cities bound for the Hook of Holland on 1 December 1938. Quaker volunteers chaperoned each stage of the journey to ensure the safety of the children. The British government assured the safety of the transports, but not the children:
“The Nazis made sure the journey was humiliating and terrifying. Trains were grimly sealed. Parents were sometimes not permitted to say goodbye in public. The children had to take trains to Holland so that they would not "sully" German ports. Their luggage was torn apart by guards searching for valuables." (Taylor, 2010)
The first trains departed on 1 December 1938, travelling for over a day to reach safety. The first train brought 200 children from a Jewish orphanage in Berlin which had been destroyed during Kristallnacht. When the trains began to arrive in London they were met by Quakers at Liverpool Street station. Here the children were given food and accommodation was arranged for them.
Children were found homes with Quaker families and communities throughout the country. There were anywhere from 120–250 children on each transport. In total ten thousand refugee children made the journey.
WORK IN LOCAL QUAKER COMMUNITIES IN BRITAIN
Throughout the 1930s Ayton Quaker School, one of 12 Quaker schools in England, accepted refugees from Germany and occupied territories. In 1935 the school was a refuge for 40 children from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. By 1938 this number had increased substantially.
Ayton became known as an established destination for scholars fleeing persecution. Scholarships were arranged through refugee aid organisations including the Germany Emergency Committee. Hans Reichenfeld, one of the children to arrive in 1938, was one such refugee helped by this process. Hans would later become a pioneer of geriatric psychiatry in Canada.
Dovercourt Holiday Camp
Dovercourt Camp near Harwich, was visited by Lady Marion Phillips of the Women's Voluntary Services in January 1939. The holiday camp was taken on by Quaker and Jewish groups as a lodging for newly-arrived children. The organisations paid for all provisions at Dovercourt, agreeing that Butlins would provide the food.
Phillips reported the children seemed "wonderfully happy, considering all they had been through." Other visitors remarked that "the heating, clothing, sanitation and health were good". The consensus was that refugee children were well looked after in this first accommodation.
Anna Essinger and Bunce Court School
Anna Essinger, the headmistress of Landschulheim Herrlingen school in Baden-Wurttemberg, raised funds from British Quakers to purchase Bunce Court in Kent.
Essinger was placed under Nazi investigation in April 1933 when she was denounced for refusing to fly the Nazi flag and swastika at the school. Essinger informed the parents of her desire to move the school to England and received permission to evacuate 65 children with her. The old school was seized by the Nazis and used to house Jewish seniors who had been forcibly relocated from Wurttemberg.
When the Kindertransports began Bunce Court and Kent Quakers took in as many of the refugees as possible. When the transports stopped in 1939, Bunce Court continued to take in refugees on scholarships. Orphaned children who had survived Buchenwald, Theresienstadt, and Czestochowa were brought to Bunce Court in 1946. Over 900 children passed through the school before its closure in 1948.
Cheadle Hulme hostel
Cheadle Local Meeting in Merseyside opened the first refugee hostels for Kindertransport children. Hostels later opened across the north west of England in Liverpool, Manchester, Blackpool, and Southport. Despite the strict enforcement of 'alien' restrictions many children were able to study and young adults found work.
Hilde Rujder, who had travelled to Britain in 1938, remembered her time in Liverpool, "The Quakers had no conversionist intent in this relaxed hostel, [when] in the evening the residents would gather in the lounge to solve the problems of the world". Hilde later enrolled at Liverpool School of Art and regularly attend Cheadle meetings.
Bloomsbury House training schemes
Supporting the sixty thousand Jewish refugees in Britain was also an immediate concern. Refugees were often destitute and, whether classified as enemy aliens or not, all required support. A Quaker response to this was to form the Movement for the Care of Children from Germany.
The team rapidly expanded and the Palace Hotel on Bloomsbury Street, London was purchased to become Bloomsbury House. Multiple refugee organisations set up training schemes to help and register refugees. By 1945, the overwhelming majority of refugees were self-supporting.
END OF THE KINDERTRANSPORT
The Home Office ceased the Kindertransport on 30 August 1939. The declaration of war against Nazi Germany immediately stopped all collaboration. A letter sent to the Dutch Government wrote that a transport of children crossing the Netherlands would not be admitted to Britain that same day. The children on the train were turned away at the Dutch border and returned to Germany. A further three hundred travel documents were invalidated in Berlin.
Within hours of the Home Office letter the transports ended completely. No further refugee children were evacuated to Britain in this way.
POST-WORLD WAR II GERMANY
The end of the war did not stop the work of Quakers in Europe. The need for aid relief continued to grow and work continued to help those who had survived the war. The Friends War Victims Relief Committee (FWVRC) joined teams entering liberated concentration camps. Thirty relief aid volunteers worked in Brunswick and Goslar in Germany. Those based in Brunswick entered Bergen-Belsen to provide medical aid and support to the Red Cross teams.
The FWVRC made frequent appeals to British Quakers for support. A lot of work was done to prevent forced repatriation. The FWVRC volunteers viewed their role as a duty. As one member stated:
"Our inspiration lies in Christ's words that by 'feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless and visiting the sick' we give expression to our love for God himself. And providing that we remain faithful, always remembering that it is in his power that we work, we may become a channel through which his love comes into the world."
BERTHA BRACEY 1893-1989 (aged 95)
Bertha Lilian Bracey (1893–1989) was a Quaker teacher and aid worker who organised relief and sanctuary for Europeans affected by the turmoil before, during and after the Second World War. These included many Jewish children threatened by the Holocaust and rescued in the operation known as the Kindertransport. In 2010, she was recognised as a British Hero of the Holocaust.
She joined the Society of Friends – the Quakers – when she was about eighteen. In 1921, she left teaching to work at the Quaker Centre in Vienna where she founded and operated youth clubs. She enjoyed singing with young people and her work in these centres gave her good fluency in the German language and a network of many contacts. The Quaker International Centres had been conceived by Carl Heath in 1916 and eight of them were established across Europe after the First World War. After Vienna, Bracey moved to Germany where the hyperinflation and instability of the Weimar Republic caused great hardship. At the centres in Nuremberg and then Berlin, she organised aid for the population, especially children. The provision of food to the impoverished and starving was known as the Quäkerspeisung – the Quaker feeding – and it so endeared the Quakers to the German people that it enabled them to aid refugees during the Nazi era.
In 1929, she became an Administrative Secretary of the Germany and Holland Committee in the Quaker headquarters in London, responsible for the relief operations in Germany and Holland. In 1933, she took charge of the newly-formed German Emergency Committee and this was later renamed as the Friends Committee for Refugees and Aliens. As the work expanded, her staff in Friends House grew from a single assistant to 59 case-workers in 1938 and, with crowds of refugees to process, they overflowed into Drayton House nearby.
Bracey had recognised the threat to the Jews of Germany in 1933, after Hitler became Chancellor and the Nazi party took control, "Words are not adequate to tell of the anguish of some of my Jewish friends". After the great pogrom of Kristallnacht in 1938, she visited Berlin and was then part of the delegation which met with the British Home Secretary Sir Samuel Hoare to convince him to expedite the acceptance of Jewish children as refugees from Germany. She then led the Quaker team which formed part of the Movement for the Care of Children from Germany. Initially, they were based in Friends House but this was overcrowded and so the Palace Hotel in Bloomsbury Street was bought to become Bloomsbury House – a centre for all the refugee organisations to work together. Bracey became secretary of the Inter-Church Council for German Refugees and led a team of 80 Quaker case-workers on the third floor. During the war, she took on further duties. In 1940, after the fall of France caused concern about the security risk of having German refugees in Britain resulting in internment, she led the Central Department for Interned Refugees which addressed the practical and humanitarian issues arising from this policy. At the end of the war, she was still saving children. For example, in 1945, she arranged for the RAF to fly 300 orphans from Theresienstadt concentration camp to a reception centre by Windermere.
In 1942, she was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to refugees. In 1999, a rose was dedicated to her at the Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre. In 2010, she was recognised as a British Hero of the Holocaust by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Naomi Blake, who was herself a survivor of Auschwitz, sculpted a statue dedicated to Bertha Bracey and it is now on display in Friends House. The inscription reads
To honour Bertha Bracey (1893–1989)
who gave practical leadership to Quakers in quietly rescuing and re-settling
thousands of Nazi victims and lone children between 1933 and 1948
See also Kindertransport: Britain’s rescue plan Britains National Archives
Kindertransport - Wikipedia,
Quakers and the Kindertransport The Iron Room
Kindertransport: 'To my dying day, I will be grateful to this country' The Telegraph
Kindertransport The National Holocaust Centre and Museum
by Dr Jennifer Taylor, Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies, Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of London entitled
THE MISSING CHAPTER:
HOW THE BRITISH QUAKERS HELPED TO SAVE THE JEWS OF GERMANY AND AUSTRIA FROM NAZI PERSECUTION
The Quakers paid an estimated £350,000 (£17.5m at today's rates) in guarantees to the British government to accept around 6,000 Jews into the UK. They then housed and found jobs for them, including Mr Kurer and eight of his family members evacuated from Vienna in 1938.
The exact number of refugees who reached Britain by these means is unknown, but it is estimated that up to 80,000 refugees, including up to 20,000 domestic servants, of whom three-quarters identified as Jewish, were living in Britain in 1939.
The horror of Kristallnacht in November 1938 made it very clear that Jews were in immediate danger if they remained in the Reich. In response the British government allowed 10,000 unaccompanied children into Britain.
As it was not safe for British Jews to travel to Germany to assess the situation, the Friends’ Service Council, which had been working closely with Jewish refugee organisations, immediately sent a team of six volunteers to Berlin.
Quaker centres in Berlin and Vienna worked with local Jewish organisations to draw up lists of children, fill out reams of paperwork, supervise departures and chaperone journeys.
The unaccompanied children of the Kindertransport were placed mostly with families for foster care, in small hostels or in boarding schools. Many schools offered full or partial scholarships to refugee children, with additional bursaries towards clothes and books. Quaker boarding schools were particularly active in supporting children and up to 1,000 refugee children attended Quaker schools before the end of the war.
There were only around 20,000 members of the Society of Friends in Britain in the late 1930s and evidence suggests that nearly every Quaker household contributed towards refugee relief in some way; whether serving on a local refugee committee, fostering a child, contributing to a local hostel, or donating funds.
British and American Quakers were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work with refugees and relief in 1947.
A research project at the University of Sussex examined the involvement of Quakers in refugee rescue and relief. The three-year project was generously funded by Dr Alfred Bader, in testament to the contribution of Professor Edward Timms to the Centre for German-Jewish Studies at the University of Sussex.
as requested by Yad Vashem for the paper entitled THE MISSING CHAPTER: HOW THE BRITISH QUAKERS HELPED TO SAVE THE JEWS OF GERMANY AND AUSTRIA FROM NAZI PERSECUTION by Dr Jennifer Taylor (October 2009) for acceptance into their records
Dr Jennifer Taylor
Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies,
Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of London
I am indebted to Peter Kurer for suggesting the outline of this paper, and to Peter Kurer and Bill Williams for providing the details of the Manchester Quaker Refugee Committee and other material from the Manchester area. Grateful thanks are also due to the staff of the Library of the Religious Society of Friends, London, for their assistance.
Dr. Peter F. Kurer,
Contemporary Witness, Manchester
Professor Eric Hobsbawm CH, FBA,
President, Birkbeck, University of London
Peter Kurer is quite right. While everybody knows vaguely that the Quakers did wonderful work, including the saving of Jewish refugees, the full extent of their achievement has not been recognised. Neither all of the archive material nor the memories of those helped by the Quakers have been adequately explored, and it is most important that this should be done before the generation of the 1930s disappears. I think Peter Kurer is to be congratulated for initiating the idea of the Missing Chapter and contributing his own memories to it.
If he wants more supporters for this initiative I am ready to add my signature:
Professor Dan Stone, FRSA.
Professor of Modern History. Royal Holloway, University of London
I concur. The important work of the Quakers ought to be recognised and, to that end, further research needs to be encouraged. Apart from the archives material in Friends House, London and in Philadelphia, I believe there are relevant papers in the archive of the Jewish Refugee Committee and elsewhere that could help to shed light on this vital, but woefully neglected history. It would be wonderful if funding could be obtained to allow a PhD student or a more experienced researcher to carry out a substantial historical investigation into the role played by Quakers in saving the lives of Jews from the Third Reich; even better would be if that could happen soon, whilst the opportunity to interview the last survivors still exists.
I am happy to add my name to the list of supporters of Peter Kurer’s initiative.
Professor Edward Timms, OBE
Centre for German-Jewish Studies, University of Sussex
There is some urgency in the recognition of the Quakers as rescuers, in particular in Holocaust Museums as there are still holocaust survivors alive who may be able to bear witness to published work and who may be able to initiate further research.
The history of Jewish survival from Nazi Europe is incomplete without the inclusion of detailed accounts of the work of the Quakers as rescuers.
To encourage the rectifying of this omission and further research along these lines and to introduce some urgency into this matter, we the undersigned support the authenticity of this work and express the hope that the information it contains will be added in appropriate museums and institutions around the world.
Research Fellow, Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Manchester.
Honory President, Historic Adviser and a founder member of Manchester Jewish Museum.
The Quakers of Manchester shared with the Jewish community the burden of supporting refugees arriving in the Manchester region from 1938. They found placements and guarantors for refugees who would otherwise have found it impossible to gain entry to Britain. They created a network of hostels for their accommodation and set up the Society of Friends Refugee Committee for Manchester and District, to supervise their welfare. Other Quakers gave help to refugees imprisoned as ‘enemy aliens’, working hard for their release.
Without Quaker support, many seeking entry to Britain would have been refused, and many who found their way to Manchester would have had much greater difficulty in the remaking of their lives.
At least 4,000 refugees were given support by Manchester Quakers. The Quakers also shared with the Jewish community the management of Region 10 of the Refugee Children’s Movement, with responsibility for nearly 1,000 Kindertransport children in the north of England
WHO ARE THE ONE THOUSAND CHILDREN (OTC)?
YIVO, This website is based on one previously created by Claude Kacser, Erwin Tepper, and Dan Tepper. In 2013, One Thousand Children transferred its records and website to YIVO.
We are the "children," mainly Jewish, who came as refugees from Europe directly to America to flee Hitler's threat, but because of various circumstances were forced to leave our parents behind. Tragically, nearly all of our parents were murdered by Hitler. We came during the years 1934-1945, and our ages then varied from 16 months up to 16 years old (chosen as an upper limit). We are now senior citizens.
Our story is similar to the Kindertransport Holocaust Child Survivors, those kids who were rescued from continental Europe and came to England. But we OTC'ers came directly to America. The story of the Kindertransport is well known; but our own OTC story, in which we came directly to America, is too little-known. We also are truly Child Survivors of the Holocaust, as discussed in the next section.
In 1938, fearing the growing terror that was to become known as the Holocaust, Manfred's German parents arranged for their only child to be sent to America. He was thirteen years old. In his travel diary about his voyage to freedom, which Manfred Goldwein immediately sent to his parents, he wrote, "I hope that you will be over here soon. But meanwhile, may God bless you and keep you in good health. May He free you very soon…...so that we may be together in a country that is too great to describe."
In 1946, still not knowing the fate of his parents, Manfred searched for them in his hometown of Korbach, Germany. A gentile neighbor had something for him. At risk to her own life, she had hidden Manfred's diary and his parent’s last letters to him. His mother wrote, "I know that you and all the dear ones over there have done all to save us, but fate decided otherwise. Don't forget us, my dear son, as we shall never forget you. Farewell, my dear child. I hug and kiss you. Your mother." His father, a rabbi, wrote, “You must not be sad, for we are in God's Dear Hand and really in God's own land… I want you to walk His ways. You are a link of the long chain that began in the past and reaches into eternity. Be a worthy man… I love you for ever and ever."
Manfred, later to become a distinguished American physician and teacher, had discovered the fate of his parents, victims of Nazi persecution that ended for them in Auschwitz.
ARE THE OTC CHILDREN CHILD SURVIVORS OF THE HOLOCAUST?
Some people would say "no." The OTC children were not in concentration camps. (There are almost no child survivors of concentration camps, as children were immediately exterminated.) The OTCers did not even experience the entire war in Nazi-occupied lands. They were in the safety of America. Some fled Germany and other European countries as early as 1934, and many fled before WWII (though a few fled as late as 1945). But all the OTCers fled to escape the true threat of Hitler's plans to exterminate all Jews – first expressed in 1926, in Mein Kampf ("Right now anti-Semitism, however, must lead to a systematic legal opposition.... its final objectives must unswervingly be the removal of Jews altogether) and then made ever more explicit by the Nuremberg Laws, Kristallnacht, and finally by the Wansee Conference, which officially set forth the program of annihilation.
We OTC children would have been exterminated if we had not fled. Tragically, we did leave our parents behind (usually for them to be murdered). Yes, we do not bear numbers on our arms, but we went through many powerful traumas because of Hitler's threat. We truly are child survivors of the Holocaust.
See also One Thousand Children Wikiipedia
HOW DID ONE ENGLISHMAN SAVE 669 CHILDREN FROM THE HOLOCAUST?
BBC, Robert Hall with HETExternal
1. THE THREAT FROM EUROPE
In 1938, Nicholas Winton was a young stockbroker in London. He was keenly aware of the events unfolding on the continent. Jews were under threat in Nazi-occupied Europe. Anti-Semitism was established in law and violence against Jewish buildings and businesses was increasing. It was clear to many that worse would follow.
Instead of wringing his hands, he headed to Prague and hatched a plan that saved the lives of hundreds of children in the months before the outbreak of World War Two. Look back on the remarkable achievements of Sir Nicholas Winton, who has died aged 106.
2. LIVES IN DANGER
In the early years of Hitler's rule, the Nazis attempted to make life so unpleasant for Jews that they would be forced to emigrate. Yet few other countries were willing to accept an influx of Jewish refugees.
Many countries, including Britain, tightened their immigration policies. In the summer of 1938, 32 countries met in Évian, France, to address the growing refugee crisis. But virtually all refused to allow more Jews in.
However, 9 November 1938 saw an alarming turning point in Nazi anti-Semitism. Throughout German occupied territory, a wave of violent protest broke out against the Jews. Synagogues were burned, businesses attacked and windows smashed in what became known as Kristallnacht - the 'Night of Broken Glass’.
Kristallnacht set warning bells ringing. As a result, Britain agreed to open its borders to refugee Jewish children.
3. THE CALL FOR HELP
Nicholas Winton was a socialist with an interest in international affairs and links with many Labour politicians. However, one thing set him apart from the British establishment.
Winton was born Nicholas Wertheimer in 1909, to parents of Jewish descent who were keen to integrate into British life. They anglicised their name and Winton was baptised into the Anglican church. His family contacts provided him with a particular insight into what was happening in Europe and what the Nazi regime might be capable of.
In December 1938, Winton had been planning to take a winter sports holiday. Just before he left, he received a letter from his friend Martin Blake, who had already travelled to Prague on behalf of the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia. It contained an invitation: 'I have a most interesting assignment and I need your help. Don't bother bringing your skis.'
This simple appeal would thrust Winton into the heart of a rapidly developing humanitarian crisis.
4. PUTTING TOGETHER A PLAN
As the Third Reich expanded, many Jewish refugees, such as these in Sudetenland, were forced to flee their homes. Many could only take what they could carry.
In Prague, Winton saw for himself the full scale of the problem facing Jews in German-occupied Sudetenland. Refugee camps were filling with families forced from their homes. Occupants were struggling to survive the harsh European winter. Winton was struck by the appalling conditions and his greatest concern was for the children.
As a British citizen with contacts, Winton was convinced he could arrange the evacuation of young refugees to England. Winton and his colleagues Martin Blake and Doreen Warriner set up a makeshift headquarters in a hotel in Prague and began taking the names of families who wished to send their children to safety.
Winton's work began in London
Transporting hundreds of young refugees across Europe required careful planning. Winton returned to London and a mountain of paperwork. The British government was only willing to let vulnerable children enter the country if strict conditions were met.
Winton had to arrange a foster family for every refugee who left Czechoslovakia. A few children had relatives waiting in Britain. But in most cases, Winton had to persuade complete strangers to take the children in. He placed ads in newspapers calling for volunteers. Fortunately, the British government had already begun plans to evacuate British children from city centres in the event of war so the British public were familiar with the idea of opening their homes to those in need.
5. THE ESCAPE ROUTE
To get to safety, Winton's children had to travel through the heart of Nazi Germany. Eight trains departed from Warsaw between March and August 1939.
6. REMEMBERING THOSE LEFT BEHIND
In this extraordinary clip, Nicholas Winton remembers how the outbreak of war prevented him bringing his final group of refugees to Britain.
Sir Nicholas Winton was born in Hampstead, London in 1909. For nine months in 1939 he rescued 669 children from Czechoslovakia, bringing them to the UK, thereby sparing them from the horrors of the Holocaust. Sir Nicholas died in July 2015, aged 106.
Why are you making such a big deal out of it? I just helped a little; I was in the right place at the right time.
Despite Sir Nicholas’s humble and inspiring statement, it was more than just being in the right place at the right time, as his life story will show.
Sir Nicholas Winton was born in Hampstead in 1909 to Jewish parents.
In December 1938, at the age of 29, Winton cancelled a planned skiing holiday after being urged by a friend, Martin Blake, to go to Prague to see the dire situation for himself. The area had become overwhelmed with refugees after Germany had annexed the Sudetenland, a mostly German-speaking area of Czechoslovakia. Winton travelled to Czechoslovakia where he was sent by Doreen Warriner to see several refugee camps. Blake and Warriner were both working with an organisation to help relocate the adults, and Winton quickly realised that something had to be done to rescue the children who were caught up in the situation. He simply could not stand by.
On Kristallnacht (9 and 10 November 1938), the Nazis had initiated a campaign of hatred against the Jewish population in all Nazi territories. An estimated 91 Jews were killed, 30,000 were arrested, and 267 synagogues were destroyed. Following this, the British government relaxed its immigration laws and agreed to allow in a limited number of children from Germany and Austria. This programme was known as the Kindertransport, and some 10,000 children were successfully brought to Britain. Winton asked the British government to allow some Czech children to come into the UK as well; permission was granted on the condition that each child was matched to a host family who would care for the children until they were 18, and each child had to have a guarantee of £50 paid by their family.
Winton, alongside a few volunteers – including his mother – worked tirelessly to arrange everything the children needed, including finding host families and raising funds to cover the travel expenses of the children.
Winton was able to arrange for 669 children to come to the UK over the next few months, the majority of whom were Jewish. The last train of children was scheduled to leave on 1 September 1939. It was cancelled because war broke out; Winton believed that ‘none of the 250 children on board was heard of again’, which was an awful feeling for him.
Although many of the children hoped to be reunited with their parents and families after the war, the majority of them discovered that their parents had been murdered in the Holocaust. It was Winton's actions, and those of his colleagues, including Trevor Chadwick and Doreen Warriner, who compiled lists of the children and travelled with them on the trains, that prevented them from meeting the same fate.
During the war, Nicholas Winton became an ambulance driver, before joining the RAF. After the war Winton joined the International Bank in Paris where he met his wife, Grete. They had three children, one of whom sadly died the day before his seventh birthday. After he retired, Winton spent much of his time doing voluntary work, having been president of the Maidenhead branch of Mencap for over 40 years and co-founder and president of the Abbeyfield Maidenhead Society.
Winton did not hide what he had done in 1939 but it was not well-known publicly because Winton did not think he had done anything extraordinary. Years later, Winton was trying to donate his papers, identifying the children, and matching them up to families, to an archive or museum. Shortly afterwards, Winton was invited to appear on That's Life!, a television show where, to his surprise, he was reunited with some of the children he had helped, including Vera Schaufeld. For most of the children, it was the first time they found out who had rescued them, and felt it was a real honour and privilege to come face to face with their rescuer.
Winton was subsequently awarded many honours, including a knighthood, the Freedom of the Cities of both Prague and London, and the Order of the White Lion, the Czech Republic’s highest honour.
Sir Nicholas Winton was an inspiration to many people, all around the world. He humbly insisted that anyone would have done the same. But they didn't. Most people stood by.
This life story was produced with the help and support of Barbara Winton, Sir Nicholas' daughter.
How the Attenborough Family Came to Have Two Sisters
From Lord (then Sir) Richard Attenborough C.B.E
1989 12th June
Sidney Samuelson, Esq.,
You asked me to let you have some gen about my two adopted sisters. My father chaired a committee when Principal of Leicester University College devoted to bringing Jewish refugees out of Hitler's Germany. In a large number of cases it merely meant housing them for a relatively brief period of time while they obtained visas to go to relatives in either the United States or Canada (this applied particularly to children).
On the particular occasion, my Mama - known as Mary, my father being known as the Governor - went to London to collect two girls whose father was one of the medical officers for Berlin. They arrived back home, Irene aged 12 and Helga 9, the former with a dreadful nervous mannerism and the latter almost covered in sores.
As far as my two brothers and I were concerned, they were just two further lost children who seemed to inhabit our house every few weeks. However, the difference was that during their time with us, war was declared. One day on our return from school, David, John and I were asked to go and see the Governor in his study. Mary was also there. They both explained to us that the two girls who were at present staying in the house were by virtue of the threatened war totally stranded. They had little news of their father, their mother and elder sister were in concentration camps (perhaps I should add that by some miracle their elder sister survived, but they never saw their mother or father again). Equally there was now no possibility of a visa to go to America and so Mary and the Governor had decided that with our agreement the two girls should remain with us for as long as the war lasted and until they could rejoin their family. My parents were adamant that there was only one condition under which this was possible and it was that they should to all intents and purposes adopt the two girls. It would mean, they explained, that we would no longer be a family of five but a family of seven, and that the family would only engage in any form of activity - holidays, outings, supply of clothes etc - that we could afford as a family of seven. The girls would be treated in exactly the same way and that my parents would love them as they loved their three sons. In other words, they were to become our ''sisters” on a totally equal standing with the three of us, the only difference being that whereas we referred to Mary and the Governor as Mother and Father, the girls would call them Aunt and Uncle, naturally in the expectation that they would eventually be reunited with their own parents.
The decision, the Governor said, is up to you boys. If they are to live with us, your Mother and I are convinced that this is the only proper way in which we should anticipate the future. Naturally the three of us agreed at once and I am sure David and John would agree that it was one of the best decisions we have ever made.
We became devoted to Irene and Helga and have remained so for the last 50 years. They both live in the United States now, both were married (although sadly Irene’s husband Sam Goldschmit has died), but Helga remains married to Herman Waldman and they have two daughters.
So, my dear Sydney, that is how David and John and I came to acquire two sisters.
Lord (then Sir) Richard Attenborough C.B.E
(from New Zealand Holocaust Memorial)
The Twin Brohers I Could Never Meet
In 1988, I visited my family in Detroit whom I had not seen for many years. I felt tension and strife between my parents and within the family, perhaps only because I had been away from it so long. I mentioned this to my Father, who opened up and for the first time spoke to me about his relationship with my Mother, the difficulties and frustrations he felt over the years; that he felt limited by Mom’s “Illness” (who was also a Holocaust survivor). He told me that a social worker would visit them, when my oldest sister was first born. The social worker would ask Dad questions, to which he would reply honestly, but Mom would never answer, never engage, avoid contact with the social worker - my Father expressing to me how this upset him, for the first time...
Then my Dad told me how he had been happily married before the war, with twin babies... I thought I had misheard; we have twins in our family, what is my Dad talking about? Then it became clear; we were my Dad’s 2nd family! The thought that I could be just a replacement to what my Dad had in happier times crossed my mind and exited it almost as fast. In retrospect, THIS could have been the spark I needed to ignite an interest in finding out more about my family -- but I wasn’t there yet, not yet...
It took another 17 years, after my Father passed away, that in 2008 I travelled to Poland with 5 friends from Temple Sinai, Wellington, NZ. We visited Oswiecim, the town next to Auschwitz, where my Father knew a happier life, before the War. I know this from the video we saw there at the Auschwitz Museum; residents spoke about the good lives they had there before the Nazis invaded. What I also found there is this book, “Jews of Oswiecim – 1918-1941”. As soon as I saw it, I quickly searched and found my Father correctly listed in its pages, and for the first time, the names and birthdates of his twin sons, Henryk and Wigdor, born 31 Jan 1940.
The book also lists the last known address for the three of them in the Sosnowitz Ghetto, the date arrested, 29 Mar 1941. Unfortunately, there is no mention of their Mother, Regina Monczyk, in the book, as she was born in Kleszczów. From new research, I now know that she was with them, but for how long, or what happened to her, I do not know. Or what happened to my half-brothers, the twins, Henryk and Wigdor. Neither did my Father... I am informed by CANDLES Foundation that he tried to find out what happened to his boys, after the war, during the rest of his life. As I do not have a date of their death, I remember them on the date of their Bar Mitzvah, had they lived so long, by chanting their hafatarah portion at shul, having done so at Temple Sinai and Beth El, so that in this small way, their memory can live on.
Rick Sahar (Hornung) Wellington, New Zealand
“Listen as Much to the Silences as to the Stories People Tell”
I recently visited the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand and was deeply moved by the project to collect 1.5 million buttons to honour the memory of the 1.5 million children killed during that time. 1.5 million…the number is unimaginable, 1/3 of the entire New Zealand population. My family only survives today because my grandmother, Vera O’Brien (nee Harth) was fortunate enough not to have been one of those children.
Grandma was born in Vienna in 1929. Following the annexation of Austria her family fled to her grandmother’s house in Vrbove, Slovakia and then on to Prague where arrangements were made to send her to Britain on the Kindertransport train. That was 1 July, 1939, she was 9 years old. In her seventies my grandmother wrote a book of her “journey to life” which documents, like many other Jewish families, the incredible resilience and fortitude of the human spirit in times of extreme adversity.
My part in writing this story is to tell something of the 3rd generation of Holocaust survivors. The Holocaust has had an indelible impact on my family, yet is not often discussed. I certainly never discussed my grandmother’s experience in depth with her, and it was not until she wrote her book that I knew her to reminisce about that time. Even in writing, she did not dwell on the experience of escaping the Nazi regime. It may be that she intentionally focussed on the positive, on her strength and growth following those events – her journey to life. Whatever the reason, there is a certain silence around the events of the Holocaust that I know extends beyond my own family.
I am now in my 30’s and an anthropologist, currently undertaking doctoral research that looks at the importance of cultural connectedness to mental and emotional wellbeing. My academic interests have undoubtedly been shaped by my family’s experience. Anthropology is essentially the study of people, of the similarities and differences between societies and cultures. I have always been amazed at how threatening difference can be to people, and at the very extreme reactions to it, like persecution and genocide. I believe in the power of narrative and the importance of telling stories, such as those on this website, which keep memories alive and, I hope, help future generations to understand the intergenerational impact of prejudice and terror.
It is important, however, to listen as much to the silences as to the stories people tell. Much research has been carried out into the long-term impact of the Holocaust and some of that suggests, quite reasonably, that the memories are too painful for survivors to relive. There is interesting research to suggest that 3rd generation survivors are enough removed from the events themselves as to be able to study the impact in more detail. That is certainly true in my own family, where my father does not discuss the trauma inflicted on my grandmother, and subsequently on himself.
Whatever the case, as a 3rd generation survivor, I am still acutely aware of the intergenerational impact of those events. I am eternally grateful to Sir Nicholas Winton for his bravery and altruism, and to my grandmother for her strength and resilience. My identity as the grandchild of a survivor gives me a desire to make the most of the life I have, and to work within my own sphere of influence to help others and shape society in a positive way.
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world’ – Anne Frank.
"The Wounds We’re Still Weeeping"
I wasn't previously aware of the Holocaust centre in Wellington and travelled from Christchurch to see it. Since listening to Vera on Radio NZ last week I have mentioned the
button project to many friends. It catches at something in peoples' hearts. When we learnt the lessons and saw the horrific images at school it seemed like something a long time ago. But your story brings it back into focus.
When I was in Berlin five years ago and listened to the fervour of the people my own age who were at the time appalled by the rising nationalist feeling amongst soccer fans in Germany, they were saying they would never raise their fists in that unthinking way. They were 25 years old and felt those wounds of their history, it was as though the wounds were still weeping.
I havent stopped thinking about you all since my breif visit last Sunday to the holocaust centre. Actually the images that are foremost in my mind are the drawings that the children did in the concentration camps. Of course it breaks my heart. The buttons are beautiful in themselves.
"I Walked Into That Room and I Was Completely Taken Away……”
In my History class at St Catherine’s College, I am studying the Holocaust and Holocaust denial for an internal assessment, so I decided that a great way to gather some more information about what really happened during the Holocaust was to take a trip to the Holocaust Centre. I’ve always been interested in the Holocaust as my grandishma Kitty Hilton’s family were victims and I’ve always heard so many stories about them and her family surrounding the Holocaust and so I wanted to know even more.
When Kitty and I first arrived at the Holocaust Centre I was introduced to Steven and Vera, who were children survivors of the Holocaust. Steven was the one who showed me around and gave me all the information I needed to help with my project, and was such a perfect guide to help me! Vera was a lovely woman who took a while to open up, but eventually told me parts of her story and I realised just how brave she was, as well as Steven. It really put in perspective for me just how much this horrific event haunted and affected so many people.
After Steven had taken me around and showed me all the information, Vera told me about the button project. The aim was to collect 1.5 million buttons to represent the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust. Now that all the buttons have been collected, the Wellington City Council has given their permission and support for the people who are involved in the button project, to come up with a design and place the final model somewhere in the city. I am so interested in this project, I think it’s such an incredible idea! And fortunately Vera took me into the room where all the buttons are kept. You can never picture 1.5 million objects. I walked into that room and I was completely taken away at how many buttons there actually were. There were around 20 boxes filled up with buttons, maybe more. It really was an emotional experience because each one of those buttons represents one little life that was taken away under the worst circumstances.
Overall, I enjoyed my day so much at the Holocaust Centre! It really helped my understanding with the event and just how much it affected and is still affecting people. I can’t wait to see the final product of the button project because I think it’s a fantastic way for people to realise that this event really did happen and just how horrific it was.
Sammy Allen, Aged 17, St Catherine's College, Wellington
Association of Jewish Refugees
Sobell Centre, Amélie House, 221 Golders Green Road, London NW11 9DQ.
020 8385 3070 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Kindertransport Association National Office
PO Box 1444, New York, NY 10113
A JOURNEY TO LIFE
BBC Newsnight 2012(26.08)
Zack Kraushar 2012 (11.57)
A short video about the events leading up the Kindertransport... An educational supplement to Pomona College Theater Department's of Kindertransport by Diane Samuels
JOURNEYS TO SAFETY:
MEMORIES OF THE KINDERTRANSPORT
UCU - University
and College Union 2014 (24.17)
HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE SUITE -
played by Hal Freedman
Stephan Beneking 2014 (3.25)
This page has been adapted from kindertransport.info which was
written to commemorate the eight-year campaign of Austrian-born Peter Kurer, from Manchester, to convince Yad Vashem to recognise the Quaker role in this historic rescue. To do this an academic had to write a paper describing the events which then had a peer review by three historians. This has now joined 130 millions pages of historical documents in the Yad Vashem library.
ONE THOUSAND CHILDREN:
THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE AMERICAN KINDERTRANSPORT
The YIVO archives 2014 (2.05.55)
Complete Story of the OTC: The "One Thousand Children" (OTC)
were 1400 mainly Jewish children who fled Europe to escape Hitler and came to America alone,leaving their parents behind (often to be exterminated).
They are a little-known American Kindertransport. These OTC children are true Holocaust Survivors from their forced displacements, stress, and traumas. . .
We tell the story of the OTC, the kids, the rescuers, he rescue programs. Most importantly, we tell of the tortuous physical paths and difficulties many of the OTC kids went through, to get to America and freedom. . . .
Thea Lindauer was an OTC, and so she briefly appears here. . . . Her full story is presented in a related YouTube "The One Thousand Children & Thea Lindauer's Story (The American Kindertransport) . . . The video-maker Claude Kacser is a One Thousand Child
BEHIND OPERATION KINDERTRANSPORT
CNN 2013 (4.36)
104 year-old Nicholas Winton takes CNN behind the rescue mission that saved 669 children from Nazi-occupied Europe
SIR NICHOLAS WINTON,
THE CZECH KINDERTRANSPORT
The1CureUNeed 2013 (4.07)