Today, Liverpool Street Station hosted the 85th anniversary of Kindertransport, the organised rescue effort by Jewish agencies of children from Nazi-controlled territory that took place in 1938–1939, during the nine months prior to the outbreak of the Second World War.
The United Kingdom welcomed nearly 10,000 children, most of them Jewish from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and the Free City of Danzig.
The children were placed in British foster homes, hostels, schools, and farms. Often they were the only members of their families who survived the Holocaust.
Liverpool Street Station was the end of a long journey to safety for these children, still known as the “kinder”, and several memorials and statutes exist in and around Liverpool Street Station as a permanent reminder of the special relationship between the Jewish community and the United Kingdom.
Today’s 85th anniversary event was co-hosted by the Association of Jewish Refugees and the World Jewish Relief, attended by the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, German Ambassador Miguel Berger, Austrian Ambassador Bernhard Wrabetz, the UK Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for post-Holocaust issues, Lord Eric Pickles.
Also in attendance were some of the remaining ‘kinder’ who I had the honour to talk to about there experiences first-hand. People like Father Francis Wahle, who travelled from Vienna to Holland at 10 years of age alongside his sister Anna who was 8. They arrived at Liverpool Street Station on 12th January 1939. You can read more about his story here. Today he told me that he didn’t remember much about the station. It was all such a shock to be leaving. They just knew that had to flee.
I was deeply honoured to attend this event and remain committed to the importance of sharing these stories, particularly with children and young people, to ensure we never make the mistakes of the past and remember that there is always far more that unites us, than divides us. Lest we forget!
My thanks to the Operations Director (Huw) and his team at Network Rail for helping to facilitate this important anniversary.