Kindertransport

When the war ended, in May of 1945, it was revealed that all the Kinder from the many kindertransports survived the war years, after their dramatic and desperate passage out of Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.


Today, most of the kinder are no longer with us. Bernd, Erich, Ruth and Jenny consider it their duty to share with others about the difference that kindness makes in the lives of countless individuals. They have spoken to schools, and to adult audiences. Bernd was featured in a BBC documentary, and he chaired events in Britain, for their annual Holocaust Commemoration.


Mrs. Ruth Neuburger, one of our featured kinder, shared several times:

"We are not the heroes. Our parents were the heroes. When I see an eight-year-old child, my own great grandchild, or a stranger’s child in the mall, I wonder: "How did my parents do that? Send away Bernd, so young a child? I don’t think I could do it."


Ruth adds:  "We have lived. We (both, Bernd and she) built successful lives. We have large, Jewish families. That is undoubtedly what our parents hoped for, what they wanted, in deciding to make the impossible decision to send us away."
 

The estimate is that a full 66% of the Jewish parents who gave their beloved children away, did not survive to see them again. Mrs. Jenny Michaels is among the lucky third, kinder whose parents also managed to escape, and later reunite with their children.


With the cruel murder of over one and a half million Jewish children by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust, the survival of every Jewish child, their spiritual as well as physical survival, became most urgent. Some rescuers were satisfied with the physical rescue of the children. A few others worried for their spiritual lives, as well.


Rav Solomon Schoenfeld was one of the rare, firebrand rescuers of the entire Second World War period, who saved thousands of Jews, before and after the war. Rav Schoenfeld steadfastly looked after the childrens' spiritual survival, in addition to their physical survival.  He worked an astonishing twenty hours a day during the war years to rescue endangered Jews, when others had given up hope.


One of the many refugees who Rav Schoenfeld traveled to visit was our Jenny Michaels, in her English location. He personally arranged his own prewar kindertransports for over 750 children. He placed each child in a Jewish home or environment, as he had promised all their parents he would. Many British Jewish families responded to Rav Schonfeld.

 


How did the story of the Kindertransport come to the world's attention?
Bertha Leverton, of blessed memory, passed away in December of 2020, at the age of 98. A native of Munich, Germany, and a kinder, she was the World President of the Kindertransport. She organized the very first reunion of the rescued kinder back in 1989, fifty years after the founding of the rescue effort. She was deeply grateful that hundreds of kinder came.


Bertha followed that up with an even more spectacular reunion ten years later, in 1999. Over one thousand of the ten thousand kinder arrived in London, from all over the world.


Warner Brothers Studios learned of the epic saga and historic 1999 reunion that was about to take place. They sent a crew to London, rented space across the street from the convention center, interviewed hundreds of kinder, thereby making the film.


We are forever grateful to the government of Great Britain for their magnanimous expression of humanity, something that was so pitifully rare. We are grateful to the thousands of families who opened their homes to the children.


Finally, we are grateful to our special Kinder: to Reverend Bernd Koschland, Mrs. Ruth Neuburger, Sir Erich Reich and Mrs. Jenny Michaels. Each of you generously offered your time and your hearts, to tell yet another generation a story that must never be forgotten.