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The Kindertransport in its wider historical context

Black and white photograph of adult male bending down to sweep up glass and rubble from vandalised shop doorwayThe clean-up of Kaliski and Co., Berlin after Kristallnacht, courtesy Wiener Library Collections.

1938 was the year of the Anschluss, the incorporation of Austria into Greater Germany. It was also the year the Nazis organised a brutal pogrom against Jews, Kristallnacht, during which they killed and hurt Jews, burnt down synagogues, looted and destroyed Jewish property, and incarcerated thousands. Those events made Jews aware of the immediate danger they were in and many desperately tried to emigrate. Around 10,000 children were enabled to find refuge in Britain through the rescue action called the Kindertransport.

Boys around 12 years old standing outside in a field in a row looking out on a cloudy day

Black and white photograph of boys lining up on the playing fields at Dovercourt Bay Holiday Camp, near Harwich, Essex, 1939 [Jewish Museum London collection]

As part of the exhibition ‘Remembering the Kindertransport: 80 Years on’ the Jewish Museum London joined forces with the Wiener Library, the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and The Second Generation Network and organised an event entitled ‘1938 in Retrospect’ that threw light onto the wider significance of these momentous events and the relationships between them. As the exhibition focuses on the individual perspectives of six kinder who came to Britain, the debate with three academics provided some important historical context drawing on the latest academic research on the subject.

The Pears Institute produced a podcast of the talks. Listen to Mary Fulbrook, Professor of German History at University College London, Nicholas Stargardt, Professor of Modern European History at the University of Oxford, and Dr Jennifer Craig-Norton, a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Southampton. Professor David Feldman, Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, chaired the event.

Pears Institute Podcast