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Jewish Britain

A History in 50 Objects

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Doll brought on the Kindertransport

This doll belonged to Edith Rothschild, who was born in Frankfurt in 1925. On 11 May 1939, Edith came to Britain on the Kindertransport carrying the doll with her. She had to smuggle the doll into her luggage because her mother told her she was too old for dolls.

In 1933 Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party came to power in Germany and from the start openly persecuted and discriminated against Jews. On 9 November 1938, the Nazis organized a violent attack against Jews across Germany, known as Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass). Kristallnacht marked a turning point – many Jews were now desperate to leave.

After Kristallnacht the British government agreed to relax immigration laws for Jewish and other non-Aryan children from Germany and Austria. This rescue mission became known as the Kindertransport. Between December 1938 and September 1939 nearly 10,000 Jewish refugee children were admitted to Britain.

On arrival in Britain, Edith went to live with a foster family in Cambridge. Her sister, who had come to Britain on a Kindertransport a couple of months earlier, also stayed with a family in the town. In 1941 Edith went to live with her aunt who was living in London. Her father emigrated to England in 1939, and in 1943 Edith was finally able to live with him. Her mother Martha was not able to escape Germany and did not survive the war.

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