Kindertransport (also Refugee Children Movement) is the name given to the rescue mission that took place nine months prior to the outbreak of World War II. The United Kingdom took in nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children from Nazi Germany, and the occupied territories of Austria, Czechoslovakia, and the Free City of Danzig. The children were placed in British foster homes, hostels, and farms.

In November, 1938, a few days after "Kristallnacht", a delegation of British Jewish leaders appealed in person to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Neville Chamberlain. Among other measures, they requested that the British government permit the temporary admission of Jewish children and teenagers who would later re-emigrate. The Jewish community promised to pay guarantees for the refugee children.

The British Cabinet debated the issue the next day and subsequently decided that the nation would accept unaccompanied children ranging from infants up to teenagers under the age of 17. No limit to the number of refugees was ever publicly announced. A comparable U.S. effort to absorb up to 10,000 refugee children by relaxing restrictive immigration statutes failed to even make it out of Congressional committees debating the issue.

The rescue operation is, in general, considered a success as most of the Kinder survived the war. A small percentage were reunited with parents who had either spent the war in hiding or survived the Nazi camps. The majority of children, however, lost home and family forever. The end of the war brought confirmation of the worst: their parents were dead. In the years since the Kinder had left the European mainland, the Nazis and their collaborators had killed nearly six million European Jews, including nearly 1.5 million children.

A similar but much less formal effort in the United States transported a smaller number of mostly Jewish unaccompanied children to the U.S. between November 1934 and May 1945. That effort has come to be known as the "One Thousand Children."

Organization and management

On the eve of a major House of Commons debate on refugees on November 21, 1938, Home Secretary Sir Samuel Hoare met a large delegation representing various non-Jewish groups working on behalf of refugees. The groups were allied under a nondenominational organization called the [ Movement for the Care of Children from Germany] . The Home Secretary agreed that to speed up the immigration process, travel documents would be issued on the basis of group lists rather than individual applications. But strict conditions were placed upon the entry of the children. The agencies promised to fund the operation and to ensure that none of the refugees would become a financial burden on the public. Every child would have a guarantee of £50 (approximately US$4000 in today's currency) to finance his or her eventual re-emigration, as it was expected the children would stay in the country only temporarily.

Within a very short time, the Movement for the Care of Children from Germany, later known as the Refugee Children's Movement (RCM), sent representatives to Germany and Austria to establish the systems for choosing, organising, and transporting the children. On November 25, British citizens heard an appeal for foster homes on the BBC Home Service radio station. Soon there were 500 offers, and RCM volunteers started visiting these possible foster homes and reporting on conditions. They did not insist that prospective homes for Jewish children should be Jewish homes. Nor did they probe too carefully into the motives and character of the families: it was sufficient for the houses to look clean and the families to seem respectable.

In Germany, a network of organizers was established, and these volunteers worked around the clock to make priority lists of those most imperiled: teenagers who were in concentration camps or in danger of arrest, Polish children or teenagers threatened with deportation, children in Jewish orphanages, children whose parents were too impoverished to keep them, or children with a parent in a concentration camp. Once the children were identified or grouped by list, their guardians or parents were issued a travel date and departure details.

Upon arrival at a port in Great Britain, children without prearranged foster families were sheltered at temporary holding centers located at summer holiday camps such as Dovercourt and Pakefield. Finding foster families was not always easy, and being chosen for a home was not necessarily the end of the discomfort or distress. Although many children were well-treated and grew up to develop close ties to their British hosts, some were mistreated or abused. Some families took in teenage girls as a way of acquiring a maid. There was little sensitivity toward the cultural and religious needs of the children and, for some, their heritage was all but erased.

Access to the Kindertransport trains

A Nazi edict that barred Jews from using the tramways or having access the railway stations, nearly eliminated the possibility of the children taking advantage of the Kindertransport opportunity. However, Quaker representatives were outside the station ready to receive children. On most trains, the Quakers members travelled on the train to the Hook of Holland, ensuring the children got the connection to London. Quakers at Liverpool Street in London ensured that there was someone there to receive and care for each child. The statue shown above was created to commemorate these events. Without Quaker help, many of these 10,000 children would not have escaped.


The first Kindertransport from Berlin departed on December 1, 1938, and the first from Vienna on December 10. For the first three months, the children came mainly from Germany, then the emphasis shifted to Austria. In March 1939, after the German army entered Czechoslovakia, transports from Prague were hastily organized. Trains of Polish Jewish children were also arranged in February and August 1939.

Since the German government decreed that the evacuations must not block ports in Germany, the trains crossed from German territory into the Netherlands and arrived at port at the Hook of Holland. From there, the children travelled by ferry to the British ports of Harwich or Southampton.

The last group of children from Germany departed on September 1, 1939, the day the German army invaded Poland and provoked Great Britain, France, and other countries to declare war. The last known transport of Kinder from the Netherlands left on May 14, 1940, the day the Dutch army surrendered to Germany. Tragically, hundreds of Kinder were caught in Belgium and the Netherlands during the German invasion, making them subject once more to the Nazi regime and its collaborators.

Internment and war service

In 1940, the British government ordered the internment of 16- to 70-year old refugees from enemy countries — so-called "enemy aliens." Consequently, approximately 1,000 of the older Kinder were held in makeshift internment camps, and around 400 were transported overseas to Canada and Australia. The young men among the interned Kinder, in particular, were offered the chance to do war work or to enter the Auxiliary Pioneer Corps. About 1,000 German and Austrian teenagers served in the British armed forces, including combat units. Several dozen joined elite formations such as the Special Forces, where their language skills could be put to good use.

In popular culture

The first documentary film made on the subject of the Kindertransport was "My Knees Were Jumping: Remembering the Kindertransports" which was shown in the Sundance Film Festival in 1996 and released theatrically in 1998. The director, Melissa Hacker, is the daughter of a Kind, the costume designer Ruth Morley.

"", narrated by Judi Dench and released by Warner Bros. Pictures, won the Academy Award in 2001 for best documentary feature. There is also a companion book by the same name. The film's producer, Deborah Oppenheimer, is the daughter of a Kindertransport survivor. The director, Mark Jonathan Harris, is a three-time Oscar winner.

"The Children Who Cheated the Nazis", narrated by Richard Attenborough is a British documentary film by Sue Read and Jim Goulding, first shown on Channel 4 in 2000.

"Kindertransport" is the name of a play by Diane Samuels, which examines life, during World War II and afterwards, of a Kindertransport child.

In the novel "World War Z", a character states that he was one of the last children to escape on the Kindertransport.

In the novel "The Remains of the Day" and subsequent film adaptation, two teenage refugee sisters fleeing Germany are employed in Lord Darlington's household, only to be dismissed soon afterwards when Darlington, a Nazi sympathiser, reads the work of Houston Stewart Chamberlain.

Personal accounts

* Bob Rosner (2005) " One of the Lucky Ones: rescued by the Kindertransport".Beth Shalom, Newark (England). ISBN 0-9543001-9-X.: An account of a 9-year-old Robert from Vienna and his 13-year-old sister Renate, who stayed throughout the war with Leo Schultz in Hull and attended Kingston High School. Their parents survived the war and Renate returned to Vienna.
* David, Ruth. "Child of our Time: A Young Girl's Flight from the Holocaust," I.B. Tauris.
* Golabek, Mona and Lee Cohen. "The Children of Willesden Lane." --account of a young Jewish pianist who escaped the Nazis by the Kindertransport.
*Newman, Otto, British sociologist and author; "Escapes and Adventures: A 20th Century Odyssey". Lulu Press, 2008
* Segal, Lore. "Other People's Houses." --the author’s life as a Kindertransport girl from Vienna, told in the voice of a child. The New Press, New York 1994.
* Smith, Lyn. "Remembering: Voices of the Holocaust." Ebury Press, Great Britain, 2005, Carroll & Graf Publishers, New York, 2006. ISBN 0-7867-1640-1.
* Whiteman, Dorit. "The Uprooted: A Hitler Legacy: Voices of Those Who Escaped Before the "Final Solution." by Perseus Books, Cambridge, MA 1993.
* Oppenheimer, Deborah. "".

ee also

*The Holocaust
*Nicholas Winton
*One Thousand Children

External links

* Kindertransport Association of North America - an association of children rescued in the Kindertransport who have settled in North America.
* and These two are WWW pages maintained by the Association of Jewish Refugees in London, England, with links to the Kindertransport Association of the United Kingdom.
* [] - Link to information about the film "My Knees Were Jumping: Remembering the Kindertransports" (1996)
* [] - Link to information about the Oscar winning film "Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport" (2000)
* [] - Link to information about the British documentary "The Children Who Cheated the Nazis" (2000)
* [] – World Jewish Relief (formally known as The British Jewish Refugee Committee)
* [] - Wiener Library in London (holds documents, books, pamphlets, video interviews on the Kindertransport)

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См. также в других словарях:

  • KINDERTRANSPORT — KINDERTRANSPORT, the movement of German and Austrian Jewish children to England in advance of World War II. On November 15, 1938, a few days after kristallnacht , a delegation of British Jewish leaders appealed in person to British Prime Minister …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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  • Kindertransport — En Historia, se conoce con el nombre de Kindertransport («Transporte de niños») al traslado de unos 10.000 niños judíos, sin sus padres, desde Alemania, Polonia, Austria y Checoslovaquia, al Reino Unido, con el objeto de ponerlos a salvo de las… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Kindertransport (play) — Kindertransport is the name of a play by Diane Samuels, which examines the life, during World War II and afterwards, of a Kindertransport child. Though fictitious, it is based upon many real kinder stories. It was first performed by the Soho… …   Wikipedia

  • Into the arms of strangers: stories of the kindertransport — Into the arms of strangers: stories of the kinderstransport (littéralement dans les bras d étrangers: histoires du kindertransport ) est un film documentaire américain réalisé par Mark Jonathan Harris en 2000. Le documentaire raconte l histoire… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport — Into the arms of strangers: stories of the kinderstransport (littéralement dans les bras d étrangers: histoires du kindertransport ) est un film documentaire américain réalisé par Mark Jonathan Harris en 2000. Le documentaire raconte l histoire… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Children’s Transport — (Kindertransport)    During the 1930s, when it still was possible for Jews to emigrate from Germany, preference was given by German Jewish organizations to children and young men and women. As a consequence, various Kindertransporten were… …   Historical dictionary of the Holocaust

  • В чужие руки: Истории Киндертранспорта — Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport …   Википедия

  • Операция «Киндертранспорт» — «Ради ребёнка», ж/д. вокзал, г. Вена. Мемориал английскому обществу, принявшему тысячи еврейских детей во время Второй мировой войны …   Википедия

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