In remembrance of the “Kindertransports” that took place to save Jewish children 80 years ago, the Jewish Welcome Service, together with the Kindertransport Association New York and other organizations, arranged a commemorative trip from Vienna to London at the start of July. Taking part in the trip were four of the “children” from 1938/39 as well as 13 descendants of refugees.
From December 1938 to August 1939, around 100 train journeys from Austria, Germany and former Czechoslovakia were organized to bring predominantly Jewish children to safety away from the Nazi regime. Twenty-three of these trains started their journey in Vienna. In total, approximately 10,000 children were able to escape; 2,500 of them came from Austria. They fled along a route that was recreated by this year’s commemorative trip:
After a three-day stay in Vienna at the invitation of the JWS, the group was bid farewell at Vienna Hauptbahnhof on July 4 in the presence of high-ranking ÖBB representatives. From here, they traveled on to Berlin, then to Amsterdam, then to the port at the Hook of Holland, taking the ferry across the North Sea to Harwich, and finally to London Liverpool Street Station.
Just one small suitcase
Shortly after the November Pogrom on the night of November 9-10, 1938, the British government loosened the country’s immigration rules and called upon British families to take in foster children. On the other side, the Israelite Community organized the Kindertransports from Vienna. Parents were told of the farewell date just briefly before departure, were only allowed to give the children, aged between two and 17 years, one suitcase, one piece of hand luggage and ten Reichsmark, and were not even able to accompany their children to the train platform. Most of the children back then never saw their parents again – and were often the only members of their family to survive the Holocaust. At the Urania community college, the exhibition “Für das Kind” pays homage to their fate. For one and a half million children who were murdered in the Holocaust, there was no escape.