The Kindertransport: The Parents

Figure 1.--This Jewish boy, probably in 1938, is saying goodbye to his mother at the train station. Notice the hand clsp. Presumably his father is in NAZI custody. For most Kindertransport children, this was the last glimpse of their parents.

Jewish families in Germany after Kristallnacht (November 1938) no longer had any doubts about the danger they faced. Most left in the Reich Germany were desperate to get out. The problem was that it was difficult to get visas from froreign countries. They were so allarmed that many jumoed at the opportunity provided by the Kindertransport program. They were willing to send their children abroad to protect them, It was a wrenching experience for parents to give up their children, but it was better than allowing them to stay in Germany and face what ever future the NAZIs had in store for them. Some calculated that having a choild abroad would help their chnces of getting out themselves. Few probably envisioned the Death Camps, but they now knew the NAZIs very well and most understood their capacity for brutality. Parents or guardians were not permitted to accompany the children, only children under age 17. Sending young childrn into the unknown must have been a terrible renching experience for the parents. In many cases the fathers were still encacerated by the NAZIs following Kritallnacht. There were also a few infants cared for by the older children. The children were often dispatched on very short notice. The younger ones were not even told what was happening. There were very difficult goodbyes at train stations in Germany, Austria, and occupied Czechoslovakia. Once in England, the children could exchange letters with their parents, but this bedcame difficult once war broke out (September 1939). Very brief letters were possible through the Red Cross, but then slowly as the Germans began deporting their parents East, meaning to the death camps (late-1941), the children stopped hearing from their parents and relatives. This varied frfom family to family. Most of the Kindertransport children would never saw their parents and siblings too old or too young for the Kindertransport again.


Gilbert, Martin. A History of the Twentieth Century Vol. 2 1933-54 (William Morrow and Company, Inc.: New York, 1998), 1050p.

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


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Created: June 15, 2003
Last updated: 9:46 AM 7/9/2010