Remembering the Kindertransport: 80 Years on

Bea Green, elderly lady, holding an accordian and smiling

Remembering the Kindertransport: 80 Years On Press Release

8 November 2018 – 10 February 2019

www.jewishmuseum.org.uk / @jewishmuseumLDN /  #kindertransport80

‘We have to look at life positively and do our best to make this world a better place.’

Bernd Koschland, Kindertransport refugee, 2018

In 1938-39 the British government allowed 10,000 mostly Jewish children from occupied Europe to come to Britain. Here, six kinder tell their stories.

In 1938-39 the British government allowed 10,000 children, most of them Jewish, from occupied Europe, to come to Britain.  This remarkable rescue operation by Jewish and non-Jewish charitable organisations became known as the Kindertransport. In this special exhibition, six ‘kinder’ (child refugees), now in their 80s and 90s, give their testimony through the medium of film. On display will also be personal objects and photographs that they brought with them from their homelands alongside documents about the Kindertransport in general.

From the moment they came into power, the Nazis implemented antisemitic policies. When these became more openly violent in 1938, and two weeks after the violent ‘Night of Broken Glass’ (Kristallnacht) on 9/10 November 1938, the British government relaxed its strict immigrations rules. The Kindertransport was an extraordinary joint effort by Jewish and non-Jewish people and organisations around the world.

As children, the Kinder escaped violence and persecution, but they went through painful separations, and their integration into British society was not always straightforward. This exhibition tells the story of rescue as well as stories of rupture, loss and regret.

Ann Kirk, Bea Green, Bernd Koschland, Bob Kirk, Elsa Shamash and Ruth Barnett have collaborated with the Jewish Museum in its important Holocaust learning programme for many years. Their newly commissioned interviews are presented in four themes, Life Before, Goodbyes, New Beginnings, and Memory and Legacy.  The last word is given to the six interviewees. Answering the questions that are most popular with school children, they reflect on the wider impact and contemporary relevance of their experiences.

The exhibition is curated by Dr Kathrin Pieren and Jemima Jarman. It will be supported by an extensive events programme including talks by some of the Kinder featured in the exhibition.

NOTES TO EDITORS

Timeline of the Kinderstransport:

  • 30 January 1933
    Adolf Hitler comes into power
    First boycott of Jewish shops; some cities ban Jews from swimming pools and sports grounds
  • 15 September 1935
    Nuremberg Laws impose anti-Jewish policies including stripping Jews of their German nationality and prohibition of intermarriage
  • 1937
    4,000 Basque child refugees are allowed temporary entry to Britain
  • March 1938
    Anschluss of Austria to the German Reich
  • July 1938
    International conference at Evian in France to discuss the refugee question; most countries had closed their borders
  • 9/10 Nov 1938
    Kristallnacht: Jews are attacked and killed all over Greater Germany; synagogues, homes and shops are looted and destroyed; ca 30,000 Jews are sent to concentration camps
  • 15 Nov 1938
    Meeting of delegates of the Council for German Jewry with PM Neville Chamberlain
  • 21 Nov 1938
    Decision to accept child refugees announced in the House of Commons
  • 2 Dec 1938
    First Kindertransport arrives at Harwich with c 200 children
  • Early Sept 1939
    Outbreak of WWII; start of evacuation
    Stop of the Kindertransport scheme
  • 1940
    Increasing number of interments ‘enemy aliens’ including ca 1,000 kinder over the age of 16
  • 14 May 1940
    Arrival of the very last Kindertransport from Holland
  • 1941
    Further anti-Jewish laws are put in place including: every Jewish person must wear a yellow Star of David; Jews are forbidden to keep pets and they are not allowed to use telephones; Jews are forbidden to leave the country
  • 1942
    Begin of mass-deportations of Jews to Auschwitz
  • 1943/44
    Questions are raised in parliament over the guardianship of the kinder
  • 8 May 1945
    End of WWII; over 900 kinder had served in the British Armed Forces
    6 million Jews and up to 1.5 million Jewish and non-Jewish children were murdered during the Holocaust
  • 1950
    ca 50,000 Jewish refugees have been naturalised
  • June 1989
    50th anniversary of Kindertransport
    First reunion in London of over 1,000 kinder brings their experiences to public consciousness
  • 2003
    Unveiling of Flor Kent’s Kindertransport memorial at Liverpool Street Station
  • 2007
    AJR Kindertransport survey shows that 84% had children and 81% had told their children or grand-children about their early life

More information about the Kindertransport and Kristallnacht/Night of Broken Glass
https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/6-stories-of-the-kindertransport

The significance of Kristallnacht

Jewish Museum Events for Remembering the Kinderstansport: 80 Years On

An extensive events programme including talks by the Kinder featured in the exhibition, an artist-in-residence, Hanukah candle lighting events, and a talk by Philippe Sands accompanies the exhibition.

Visit www.jewishmuseum.org.uk for the full programme.

Two complementary exhibitions also running at the Jewish Museum:

‘Still in our Hands’’: Kinder Life Portraits
Café at the Jewish Museum
A photographic exhibition featuring portraits by Dr Bea Lewkowicz of former Kindertransportees interviewed for the AJR Refugee Voices Testimony Archive.

‘My Home and Me’, A Takeover Day
A photographic exhibition by young refugees in partnership by the British Red Cross

About Jewish Museum London

The Jewish Museum London tells the story of the history and heritage of Jews in Britain through universal themes of migration, family, faith and culture.

Our mission is to surprise, delight and engage all people, irrespective of background and faith, in the history, identity and culture of Jews in Britain. Our exhibitions, events and learning programmes encourage a sense of discovery and aim to provoke questions, challenge prejudice, and encourage understanding.
jewishmuseum.org.uk

VISITOR INFORMATION:

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Opening Times: Daily 10am – 5pm (Friday: 10am – 2pm)

Museum admission (includes entry to exhibition and all permanent displays)

Adults – £8.50*, Concessions – £6.50*, Children (5-16) – £4.00*, Under 5s – free

Family ticket (two adults and up to four children) – £20*, * Includes £1 voluntary donation

Press Contact

For further information, interviews and images please contact:

Kate Burvill, KBPR:  T +44 (0)207 7226 7824, M: 07947 754717, E: [email protected]

We are grateful to our supporters:

The Association of Jewish Refugees
Heritage Lottery Fund
Sir Michael Moritz
Sybilla and Leo Friedler Charitable Trust
Arts Council England

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