K is for Kindertransport



 
My aunt came to the UK from Germany as a young girl on the Kindertransport after Kristallnacht to flee the Nazis.  She and her sister managed to escape but her parents and many other members of her family perished in the death camps.   The Germans kept meticulous records of the atrocities, so she knows when and where they were murdered.

 


Two neighbours were buying meat in the kosher butchers when the request came through to sponsor some of these children.   One lady, who already had three daughters agreed to take my aunt and her neighbour said she would take her sister for the duration of the war.  Can anyone imagine the trauma of parents sending off their children knowing they would never see them again?  Or imagine the feelings of the children arriving in a foreign country not realising the fate of their families and not speaking a word of English?  

For the first few months my aunt would receive letters from her parents, urging her to be a good girl, brush her hair and help in the house.  Before she left, the menfolk of the family had already been interviewed by the Gestapo and released;  they knew the writing was on the wall for them.  My aunt still has those letters along with some other memories of her family and village, which often occur in her dreams.

I was proud to accompany her to the Holocaust memorial service this year, joined by other camp survivors and their families.  The fact that these people have reached a grand old age and have been successful in their fields shows that, despite the holocaust, Hitler failed in his plan.  This group of people meet every month and many of them, including my aunt, go into schools and give talks to children who are the same age as they were at the time.  For years my aunt and others never mentioned the holocaust but, as they advance in years, they consider it of utmost importance that their story is told.

 Over the years, my aunt has returned to Teschenmoschel, the village where she was born.  On her first visit after the war, she found her former neighbours living in her house, still using their family cutlery stamped with M, being the initial of the family.  Did the villagers never question what had happened to their neighbours?

 Relatively recently she has corresponded and met up with a couple of old school friends, one of whom sent her a 2013 calendar of the regions showing the Jewish cemetery which still remains in the village, albeit with a picnic table alongside.

 Unfortunately, massacres are still occurring in many parts of the world today.

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. We have members of our community in Leicester who came here in the Kinder transport. I can't bear to think what it must have been like. You're right that Hitler tried to destroy us but failed. Sadly you're also right about the massacres still happening across the world to people of many different beliefs but all in the name of beliefs. This can't be what religion was meant to be about. It's heartbreaking.

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  2. My mother came over as a young woman from Berlin just before Hitler closed the borders. My father's parents refused to leave Germany as they said the Germans were civilised people who would see through Hitler eventually. They both perished in a camp. Sadly, this country was told by Jewish people right at the outset what Hitler was up to, but the government refused to take the warnings seriously.

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  3. That was such a tragic time in history, and seeing the pictures of children breaks my heart because I know as a parent I would do anything to keep my kids safe, even if it meant never seeing them again. And the tragedy of what is happening to many many children around the world even now... it is very depressing.

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