British Jews were this week being urged to help recognise the efforts of those behind the Kindertransport – 80 years after the phenomenal rescue effort of Jewish children was launched.
Special Shabbat services will be held on Saturday 1 December involving all synagogue movements, followed by a commemorative ceremony on Sunday 2 December at Liverpool Street Station, where thousands of children disembarked.
The events are being organised by World Jewish Relief, whose predecessor – the Central British Fund for German Jewry (CBF) – was instrumental in bringing 10,000 unaccompanied children to the UK on trains from Nazi-occupied Europe, in what became known as the Kindertransport.
The forthcoming ‘Kinder Shabbat’ will include special prayers written by senior rabbis who are preparing to dedicate their sermons to the subject, while some synagogues are hosting speakers, including those who were rescued, or their children.
A commemorative ceremony will take place on Sunday in Hope Square at Liverpool Street Station where, in 2006, a bronze statue of newly-arrived children was erected by artists Arie Oviada and Frank Meisler, himself a Kinder.
HE Peter Wittig, the German Ambassador, will join Kinder and their families as the Chief Rabbi lights the first night Chanukah candle.
“The Kindertransport is the quintessential Jewish story of survival and heroism,” said WJR communications director Rafi Cooper.
“World Jewish Relief, so instrumental in its orchestration, is encouraging our whole community to take some time to reflect both on the loss of those who didn’t make it out, as well as the wonderful contribution of so many of the 10,000 children in shaping our Jewish community as it is today.”
WJR has spent thousands of pounds and hundreds of hours digitising its historic records from 1938-39, including thousands of individual case files for the children who came on the Kindertransport.
The records detail the level of support given – anything from medical help to repairing shoes or providing cinema tickets – and outlines how help was provided to the children in secular and religious education, training and employment.
“Our origins inspire our work today,” said Cooper. “With so many people continuing to have to flee violence, war and persecution, the Kindertransport remains a shining beacon of humanity in our modern age.”