The Prince of Wales joined a capacity audience at the Roundhouse for the premiere of a choral work composed in tribute to the Kindertransport.
The heir to the throne met some of those given refuge in Britain before the Shoah before attending the second half of a performance of The Last Train to Tomorrow after personally intervening to accept an invitation from the Association of Jewish Refugees.
Commissioned by the Halle Orchestra, The Last Train to Tomorrow tells the story of the rescue mission through a sequence of ten songs that was composed and conducted by the internationally acclaimed artist Carl Davis and performed by The Finchley Children’s Music Group. The music was performed by City of London Sinfonia together with Louisa Staples, a young violin soloist from The Yehudi Menuhin School.
The event, compared by Natasha Kaplinsky of David Cameron’s Holocaust Commission and begun with a group of six kinder lighting memorial candles, fell on the anniversary of Kristallnacht – a wave of attacks against the communities in Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia which took place on November 9 and 10 1938.
The devastation of Kristallnacht persuaded the British government to create the Kindertransport, through which some 10,000 children found refuge in Britain from Nazi oppression.
Many of the children, some aged as young as three, arrived into London’s Liverpool Street station having left by train from Vienna, Berlin, Prague and other cities in Europe.
Very few saw their families again and many of their parents died in Hitler’s concentration camps during the Holocaust.
During the interval, Charles met some of the “Kinder” children, who are now in their 80s and 90s, at The Roundhouse – which was formerly a turning point for trains and is located near Swiss Cottage, where many of the refugees settled. He asked them about their stories and pointed out that his friend Nicholas Soames attended last week’s ceremony in Prague when Sir Nicholas Winton was honoured by the Czech president for saving 669 children from the Nazis.
Among those given refuge in the UK was Rolf Penzias, now 92, who said: “I said thank you to the Prince for honouring us with his presence again. He said ‘I’m honoured’. He is personally very interested in the kinder and reaaranged his diary to join us. It means a lot to us.”
Chairman of AJR Kindertransport group told the Prince he couldn’t thank him enough for his support, which also included attending events marking the 70th and 75th anniversary of the Kindertransport.
Michael Newman, chief executive of the AJR, said: “We were thrilled to present The Last Train to Tomorrow which evocatively and emotionally portrayed the story of the Kindertransport. We have received many heartfelt thanks, compliments and congratulations – including from His Royal Highness.”
Last year, Charles welcomed Kindertransport evacuees to St James’ Palace for a reception to mark the 75th anniversary of the British government’s decision to allow the youngsters into the country.