The Kindertransport: Individual Experiences

Figure 1.--

We have begun collecting Kindertrasport experiences. The Kindertrasport experiences are as diverse as the children involved. We have ome details on a few of the children involved. The only common bond was that they were children and after Kritalnacht, it was clear that their lives were in danger. Most of the children came from Germany, but as Hitler was rapidly expanding the borders of the Reich, there were also children from what had been Austria and Czechoslovakia. Very few of these children would have survived, had they not been chosen or the Holocaust. The children were the most vulnerable group nd often the first peopled killed by the Germans. Most lost their parents and other family members. One often unmentioned aspect was that their parents without the need to care for younger children had a better change of escaping Germany and the NAZIs.

Ruth David

Ruth was a child during the Holocaust. The NAZIs killed almost her entire family. She only survived because she was chosen for the Kindertrasport. Her inspiring book is a memorial to her family. [David]

Kurt Fuchel

Kurt had no brothers. He was born in Vienna, Austria on September 11, 1931. His father had been a bank manager in Austria. His moter was a housewife. The parents managed to get a British family to take in Kurt. Luckily the family was able to survive and were reunited after the War. They emmigrated to America.

Heilmann Sisters

My former wife and her sister were sent to Sweden by their parents in 1939 on the Kindertransport. The family was on a list to go to the United States in 1940. Their father appealed to the U.S. Embassey in Germany to allow them to leave in 1939. He was told they would have to wait till 1940, even though he told them that he would be dead in 1940. The Swedish authorities were willing to take the children (although at first that they didn’t want to take the oldest daughter who was about 15 years of age) if the parents could show that they had a way to get out of Germany. My ex-wife was 4 1/2 years old. The parents were able to go to England to work as domestics until they were eligible to go to the United Ststes in 1940, but were not allowed to take the children. The children lived in Malmo, Sweden until 1943, when they were sent to England. The plane that took them there was shot down on its next flight back to Sweden. While in England they were evacuated to the country side due to the 'buzz' bombs hitting London. When they went to the United States it was on a tramp steamer in 1944. They were re-united with their parents in 1944 in the United States, 5 years after being separated. My ex-wife was treated well by the family that she stayed with in Sweden which also had taken in other Jewish children. Her older sister was treated as a 'free' servant by the family that took her in. Are there any lists of those that went on the trains from Germany to Sweden? My former father-in-law had told my daughters that he had also been able to get a number of children from my ex-wife’s Hebrew School class on the train, and thus saved their lives. He managed to get his brother out of the Dachau Concentration Camp by going to Berlin and signing over all his property to the head of the SS. He had to leave Germany with his brother within 24 hours, which they did. I have documentation on the release of his brother from Dachau. Their father’s name was Max Heilmann, her name was Edith Ruth Heilmann and her sister’s name was Helga Heilmann. Their uncle that was saved was Wilhelm Heilmann. They had lived in Halberstadt, Germany. their father had served in the German Army during World War I. [Reichard]

Lisa Jura

Lisa Jura was a Jewish child prodigy in Vienna. She was the middle child of three girls. After Kristallnacht her parents tried to get the childrn out. A cousin in England offered to take one of the children. The eldest daughter was over the 17 year age limit. The choice was difficult, but the youngest daughter was not judged storng enough. Lisa was sent off at age 14. She had a daytime job, but still managed to become a concert pianist. She was in London duing the Blitz. [Golabek]

Gunther Karger

Gunther was born in the Black Forest, Germany and escaped Nazi Germany in the Kindertrasport (1939). His parents sent him on the last train of Jewish children to Sweden where he for seven years lived in foster homes and an orphanage. He never again saw his family all of whom the NAZIs killed in the Holocaust.

Siegfried Ramler

Mac Simpson tells us that he is just finishing the design of a book called Nürnberg and Beyond - The Memoirs of Siegfried Ramler. Sig is now 84 (and still running marathons). Born in the Leopoldstadt neighborhood in Vienna in 1924, he witnessed Kristallnacht through the curtains of the family's darkened apartment as his father hid in the attic. Elsewhere in Vienna that night, his grandfather was taken away and never seen again. Sig was rescued via Kindertransport on the second train from Vienna in December 1938. Once in London, alone at 14, he volunteered to serve as a firewatcher, standing on the roof of a building as German bombers attacked the city during the Blitz. During the day Sig worked in a factory and studied English to add to his skills in German and French, Toward the end of the war. the advancing U.S. Army was streaming into Germany and needed German/English translators to deal with both civilians and surrendering troops. Sig was given a test, passed, and sent to the continent. As the war wound down, he defied orders--there's an irony here--to return to England and instead hitchhiked from the airport where he had been dropped off, to Nürnberg. There he was instantly hired as an interpreter for the upcoming trials. Sig helped to interrogate Speer, Hess, Göring, etc. when they were brought in and stayed through their trials to work the less-publicized later ones. He met and married a Hawaiian woman, who was a Nürnberg court reporter, and ended up in the Islands as a world class teacher and program director at Punahou School (currently famous as the alma mater of Barack Obama). [Simpson}

I Came Alone

A fascinating and moving book entitled I Came Alone: The Stories of the Kindertransports has numerous accounts of Kindertransport children. It has two introductions, one by Lord Jakobovits, the Chief Rabbi of England, and the other by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It contains reminiscences by Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria in 1938-39, just before World War II, who were sent as children without their parents from the Third Reich to safety in England. Several of the stories involve embarrassments that the children experienced because their clothes were so different from what English children wore. One of the major differences was that Austrian and German boys wore long stockings whereas their English counterparts did not.


David, Rurh.A Child of Our Time: A Young Girl's Flight from the Holocaust (I.B. Tauris, 2003), 170p.

Golabek, Mona, and Lee Cohen. The Children of Willesden Lane. Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love and Survival (Warner), 272p.

Reichard, Mark. E-mail message, March 11, 2016.

Simpson, Max. E-mail message, October 3, 2008.

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Created: 10:37 AM 3/18/2016
Last updated: 10:37 AM 3/18/2016