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Persecution
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The Kindertransport
Sources
Nicholas Winton
Memory of Kindertransport
The Kindertransport Association
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The Kindertransport
Close-up of a little girl sleeping with a doll in a chair. She is one of the newly arrived refugee children of the second Kindertransport.

The events of Kristallnacht shocked many people outside of the Germany. The British government’s previous resistance to help refugees changed slightly and it agreed to allow children to enter as long as a guarantor could be found for them. The Government then allowed a program called the Kindertransport (literally, Children’s Transport) to be introduced. This allowed Jewish refugee children safe passage into Britain.

A tough decision

Approximately 10,000 unaccompanied children and teenagers up to age 17 from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia traveled across Europe to Britain. A few were babies carried by their brother and sisters. The children were not given permanent residency in the UK and their parents were not allowed to accompany them.

The initiative for the Kindertransport came from different faith groups. Jews, Quakers and various Christian denominations took a leading role. The first transport left about one month after Kristallnacht. It arrived in England on December 2, 1938. The last Kindertransport left two days before war broke out (September 3, 1939). This ended the brief program.

The children who entered Britain as part of the Kindertransport left their family and friends behind. It was a difficult choice for both children and their parents to make. Many tears were shed as children said goodbye to their parents, not knowing when or if they would ever see them again. For many children it was indeed the last time they saw their parents.

The experience of leaving relatives and staying in a completely new place was extremely traumatic. For the children there was the added difficulty of being in a country with a different language, a different religion, and no communication with relatives once the war started. These children were much more fortunate than their parents, since most of them were murdered by Nazis.

Like British evacuees the experience of leaving relatives and staying in a completely new place was extremely traumatic. For the Kinder an added difficulty was being in a country with a different language, a different religion, and no communication with relatives once the war started.

The majority of the Kinder never saw their parents again.

Kindertransport in the United States?

No such program was ever implemented in the United States. US Quakers tried to organize a similar campaign in the United States, but were blocked by the anti-Semitic feelings of many in the United States, anti-immigrant sentiment and also indifference. US Quaker representatives met with Nazi officials in 1938 to help Jews get out of Germany. But the meetings came to an end after Kristallnacht. It is believed that 25%-30% eventually made their way to the United States or Canada.
Copyrights
USHMM, courtesy of Lydia Chagoll.
Anne Frank Guide
This day in history
Today: 1 September 2014
Then: 1 September 1939

Germany invades Poland. Britain and France declare war on Germany. This is the beginning of the war in Europe.

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