The Kindertransport: In the Arms of Strangers

Figure 1.--This photograph shows two German-Jewish boys, perhaps brothers, dressed in their new English prep school uniforms--grey flannel, single-breasted short pants suits, with V-neck sweaters (note the stripe at the V), white shirts, and the school tie. They also wear grey knee socks with a contrasting color at the top and black Oxford shoes, although you can't see their full outfits in this frame. The boys are perhaps 7 and 9 years old. Click on the image to learn more about the boys.

Perhaps the best documentary on the Kindertransport is "In the Arms of Strangers". It was released in 2000. It presents a tremendous archive of film and personal interviews describing the Kindertransport. There are scenes of the children in Germany, on the trains, and in the schools and homes in Britain. The interviews bring the temper of the times chillingly alive. The live of German Jews is depicted befor Hitler seized power. One woman rcounts that immediately following the NAZI takeover she had her birthday. Her mother always lovingly prpared party. Not one of the girls she had looked at as friends came. That was the first inkling as a very young girl that something was going wrong. The interviews describe how the children were tormented and asaulted in German schools before being expelled. One interviewer recounts how school mates through him through a plateglass window. Understandably he no longer wanted to go back to school. Then there was the terror of Kristallnacht. Parting at train stations are described in details. Embarassed NAZIs scheduled the trains at night to reduce public views at the partings. The train trips and the tormnents of officicious NAZIs along the way and at the border. The atmoshere changed when the trains crossed the Dutch border. There Dutch mothers were waiting with sandwiches and hot choclate. The varying experiences in England are also described. A very effective presentation. What is missing in this anbd other Holocaust films is interviews with the NAZIs. In this case interviews wih Hitler Youth classmates woul have added to our understanding. Such interviews of course, especially truthful interview, are no doubt difficult to obtain in Germany.


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Created: February 23, 2004
Last updated: February 23, 2004