Prince Charles used his official visit to Northern Ireland this week to call in on Belfast’s Jewish community, where he met an 82-year old woman who came to the UK on the Kindertransport.
Ruth Kohner told the Prince of Wales how she escaped from Czechoslovakia in 1939, on the eve of the Second World War, as he visited a synagogue in north Belfast.
“It saved our lives,” said Kohner about the Kindertransport rescue effort which brought 10,000 Jewish children to the UK by train in the months leading up to war.
“It must have been very difficult for my parents, who had travelled ten days by train, to bring me and my sister to escape, but they saved our lives.”
Kohner spent the war at a farm in Millisle, near Belfast, along with other rescued children, and went on to run a family clothing business, but said her father lost many relatives in the Holocaust, including his own mother, who he had to leave behind.
The heir to the throne has been a longstanding friend of the UK’s Jewish community and takes a personal interest in Holocaust education. In November, he attended a reception for the Association of Jewish Refugees, marking the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport, where Holocaust survivors sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him.
While Charles met the Jewish community, the Duchess of Cornwall visited a homeless charity complex beside a section of Belfast’s longest peace wall which divides the mainly Unionist/Loyalist lower Shankill Road from the mainly Nationalist/Republican Falls Road.