On November 15, 1938, following the violence of Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938, a delegation of British Jewish leaders, including Lord Bearstead, the Chief Rabbi, Neville Laski Rothschild and Chaim Weizmann, appealed in person to the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain.

The British government eased immigration restrictions for certain categories of Jewish refugees, agreeing to permit an unspecified number of children under 17 years of age to enter Great Britain from Germany and German-annexed Austria and Czech lands.

Private citizens or organizations had to guarantee to pay for each child's care, education, and eventual emigration from Britain. in return for the British government's agreement to allow unaccompanied refugee children to enter the country on temporary travel visas, with the understanding that that when the crisis was over, the children would return to their families.

Parents or guardians could not accompany the children.

Most Kindertransports, or Refugee Children Movement. left by train from Berlin, Wien, Prague, and other major cities in Central Europe, and the children from smaller towns and villages travelled to the collection points in order to join the transports.

Jewish organizations in Greater Germany, specifically the Reich Representation of Jews in Berlin (and after early 1939,the Reich Association of Jews in Germany, its successor organization), and the Kultusgemeinde (Jewish Community Organization) in Wien, planned the transports.

Children on the Kindertransport convoy travelled by train to ports in Belgium and the Netherlands, from where they sailed to Harwich.

At least one of the early Kindertransports left from Hamburg, and some children from Czechoslovakia were flown directly to Britain.

Several organizations and individuals participated in the rescue operation.

In Britain, the Movement for the Care of Children from Germany, headed by Elaine Laski and Lola Hahn Warburg, coordinated many of the rescue efforts, while Jews, Quakers, and Christians of several denominations worked together to bring refugee children to Britain.

About half of the children lived with foster families.

The others stayed in hostels, schools, or on farms throughout Britain.

Children without sponsors were housed at facilities such as a summer camps in Dovercourt Bay and Pakefield, until individual families agreed to care for them or until hostels could be organized to care for larger groups of children.

The Reichsvertretung in Berlin and the Kultusgemeinde in Austria set up offices to handle the thousands of requests by parents,

Traveling by train via Holland, and by boat on to Harwich, required extra permission for passage through Holland, which was granted.

Dennis Cohen and his wife went to Berlin to help with the arrangement of travel documents, railway carriages had to be reserved, assembling the children for departure, directions for boarding on route to Dutch border, Jewish and Christian Committees to meet trains at the border and see to the departure by boat to England.

A Nazi edict that barred Jews from using the tramways or having access to railway stations and German ports nearly prevented the children taking the Kindertransport opportunity, but, many Quaker representatives were present at stations ready to organise the travel, and often, the Quakers travelled as far as the Hook of Holland, ensuring that the children made their connection to London; and Quakers at Liverpool Street Station ensured that there was someone to receive and care for each child.

With 24 hours notice of the date and time of their departure, the Reichsvertretung assembled 200 children, a number of whom had been living in the children home in Fehrbeliner Strasse and other orphanages in Berlin that were destroyed, plus some from Hamburg and from Breslau.

The teachers,and escorts who accompanied the children, were compelled by the German government, to return to Germany, included Rudolf Melitz, Martha Wertheim, Norbert Wollheim.

On December 1, 1938, the first Kindertransport departed Berlin for Hook van Holland.

On December 2, 1938, the first Kindertransport arrived in Harwich, bringing 196 children from a Jewish orphanage in Berlin which had been destroyed on Kristallnacht.

On December 10, 1938, the first Kindertransport departed Wien.

In 1939, Nicholas Winton arranged the Czech Kindertransport, eight trains in all, to take refugee children to foster families in Britain.

On September 1, 1939, the last Kindertransport departed Germany.

On September 1, 1939, a ninth Czech Kindertransport train arranged by Nicholas Winton, was scheduled to leave Prague, carrying 250 additional children, but the borders closed when the Germans invaded Poland.

The children did not survive the war.

On May 14, 1940, the day the Dutch army surrendered to Germany, the freighter, Bodegraven, the last Kindertransport, sailed from Amsterdam for England, carrying 80 children.

On May 14, 1940, raked by machinegun fire from German war planes, and had at least one death on board, SS Bodegraven landed at Liverpool.

In 1940, Britain interned about 1,000 children from the Kindertransport, as enemy aliens, on the Isle of Man.

400 of the enemy alien children were transported to internment camps in Canada and Australia.

Some of the boys from the Kindertransport, later joined the British Army, and fought in the war against Germany.

Web Links


Kindertransport, from Wikipedia


Kindertransport, from Wikipedia (Deutsch)


קינדר-טרנספורט, from ויקיפדיה


The Kindertransports


The Kindertransports, from Holocaust Research

Source References

Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport (film Oscar, Judy Dench)

Der jüdische Kindertransport von Deutschland nach England 1938/39

Als sie nicht mehr deutsche sein durfen. Über die Kindertransporte nach England


Ten thousand children: true stories told by children who escaped the Holocaust on the Kindertransport, Anne Fox, Behrman House Inc.,U.S. (31 Dec 1998)







    Kristelnacht 75      Years On

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