FÜR DAS KIND – Memorial museum
The Kinderstransports rescue mission of Jewish children to Great Britain between 1938 and 1939
An exhibition of Rosie Potter and Patricia Ayre
EVERY SINGLE PERSON SHOULD SAY TO HIMSELF:
THE WORLD WAS CREATED FOR ME, THEREFORE I AM RESPONSIBLE.
Pirke Avot - Ethics of Our Fathers
Wiener Urania, 1010 Vienna, Uraniastraße 1/ Main Staircase 1st - 2nd Floor
Opening hours: Monday - Friday 9 am - 8 pm
Saturday, Sunday and public holiday Visit only possible by appointment - firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in a guided tour please contact me - email@example.com
EVERY SINGLE PERSON SHOULD SAY TO HIMSELF:
THE WORLD WAS CREATED FOR ME; THEREFORE I AM RESPONSIBLE.
Pirke Avot – Sprüche der Väter/Ethics of Our Fathers
The Kindertransports enabled more than 10,000 children who were considered “Jewish“ in terms of the Nuremberg race laws to depart for Great Britain from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland between the end of November 1938 and 1 September 1939.
Just a few days after the November pogrom (Night of Broken Glass) from 9 to 10 November 1938 the British government loosened the entry requirements and a public appeal went out to British families to volunteer foster homes. Jewish children under 17 were permitted to immigrate as long as they had a guarantor and a foster family. Gertruida Wijsmuller-Meyer, the influential wife of a Dutch banker, organized the first transport. She travelled to Vienna and negotiated with Adolf Eichmann who agreed to the transport if the 600 Jewish children could be gathered for departure to England within a very short period of time. The “Refugee Children Movement“ was responsible for the children.
They came by train from their home train stations via the Netherlands, mainly to Hoek van Holland and travelled from there to the English port Harwich by ship.
For entering Great Britain the children needed to have a guarantee of 50 pounds (today about 1,500 Euros) to cover for travelling and resettlement costs. The plan was to distribute the children about the country; they would go to school and later return to their families. The British Jewish Community pledged to be liable for the guaranteed sums. For each child, a sponsor needed to be found who would guarantee the 50 pounds. The RCM assessed the applications and permit numbers, organized the journey by train and ship, took care of the first admission of the children in England, the selection of the foster parents, placement in families and homes, and follow-up support. After the outbreak of war further resettlement of children became extremely difficult. Parents did not learn of the departure date until two to 14 days beforehand. Each child was allowed to take one suitcase, a handheld bag and ten Reichsmark.
Toys were prohibited and valuables confiscated. The children were informed by the parents only very briefly before they had to go. The parents were not allowed to accompany their children onto the departure platform.
Very soon the number of arriving refugee children exceeded the number of foster homes. Some children were then exploited as free-of charge housemaids. To make matters worse, many small children did not know or understand why they were sent away and very often thought that their families had rejected them. Other children and teenagers suffered because they understood the danger their parents, brothers, sisters and other relatives were in but they could not help them.
After the war, a large portion of the children remained with their foster parents, since the majority of them had lost their parents due to the annihilation of the European Jewish population.sie
Rosie Potter and Patricia Ayre
The work “Für das Kind’ was created during the years 2000 – 2003 in response to a request for a memorial that was raised by surviving Kinder at a meeting of the ‘Reunion of Kindertransports’ held in London in 1989. The Kinder felt that their experiences were underrepresented within the history of the holocaust and that as they grew older, without attaching their authentic voices to these experiences, those stories may never enter and find a place within the public domain for the benefit of future generations.
The original aim of the ‘Für das Kind’ project was to work collaboratively with the Kinder to assist in unravelling their experiences into a visual artwork, that would act both as a memorial and as a means of access to new audiences and to directly connect them contemporaneously to their own history, through primary, physical and authentic elements of witness and survival embedded within the work itself.
A series of advertisements through the Jewish press requesting the location of any original objects carried by the Kinder on their respective train journeys, and suggesting that perhaps in some way these may become part of an actual memorial, resulted in an overwhelming response.
The objects that arrived included; photographs, books, dolls, ice skating boots, exercise books, school reports, clothes, documents, shoe trees, bedding and a Mother’s apron. The project inspired the donation of objects that had never before been offered to a National Museum or Archive.
The objects belonging to each individual were placed within an original suitcase and photographed directly from above on a large format analogue camera, aiming to retain uniform perspective and scale in respect of the contents. In some instances the suitcase is quite full, in others it might contain only one photograph, this was entirely dependant upon the objects offered to the project by the individual and were not subject to any form of editing. The title, 'Für das Kind' is taken directly from a small group of objects contained within the suitcase belonging to Pauline Warner (nee Makowski), namely 3 children's coat hangers printed respectively with the words, "Für Liebe Kind", "Dem Braven Kind" and "Für das Kind"
Each of the 23 prints that form the exhibition shows an original suitcase containing objects carried by a child over 70 years ago, as they travelled into an unknown future.
Each child was allowed only one suitcase, the contents of which were severely restricted, no jewellery or valuables, no money, musical instruments or cameras. Often the trains left in the middle of the night, so there was no time for preparations or extended farewells. Parents tried to cram a lifetime of care and advice into a few moments. In many instances the objects represent the last physical contact that a child had with either of their parents.
These personal family treasures, assigned to each child at a critical point in their history, are significant, not only in the context of a distinct religious background, but also as a major part of the individual's sense of his or her own particular national heritage, in terms of its geography and cultural influence.
The objects resonate with the collective memory of the group. They are familiar, comforting emblems of childhood, and yet they remain resolutely suspended between, 'here and there'; in ‘Family Frames: Photography, Narrative and Postmemory’ Hirsch speaks about “an uneasy oscillation between continuity and rupture”.
The prints are wall mounted and set in deep wooden box frames, echoing the traditional museum case. The engraved narrative, on the glass in front of the image, is in the contemporary handwriting of the individual survivor, a fragment taken from personal accounts, letters, telephone conversations and meetings with the artists.
A pen and an A6 white postcard were sent to each Kinder and they were asked, firstly to approve the fragment of text selected from their verbal or written testimonies and secondly to write it on the post card. The handwriting was enlarged, traced and positioned on high tack self-adhesive film that was then laid onto sheets of glass that would form part of the finished work. Each piece of text was carefully traced and hand cut out of the thin, high tack material covering the glass and then sandblasted with fine grit to produce the etching, a delicate task undertaken by ex-Royal College of Art, artist in glass, Patricia Ayre.
The engraved text, which is uniquely placed across and over the objects, gives rise visually to a subtle interaction of negative and positive effects, which together with the sharpened or blurred shadows cast by changing ambient light, create metaphors for memory.
This graffiti-like text disturbs the equilibrium of the implied 'museum', conveying the reader away from a simple contemplation of a group of historic objects towards a recognition of the centrality of those bearing direct witness to events and history.
In 2013, Dr Pnina Rosenberg, lecturer and historian, featured the work ‘Für das Kind’ in an article in, ‘Prism’, an interdisciplinary journal for holocaust educators, where she wrote, “This significant manifestation of collective memory depicts the transformation and renovation of the ‘archive’ through the artists’ innovating language of memorial. They are, at the same time, monuments and family albums, private yet accessible, and thus open a dialogue and create a new artistic language that suit brilliantly the demands of the overcharged collective memory of the 21st century”
Kindertransport was the rescue operation, a movement in which many organizations and individuals participated. It was unique in that Jews, Quakers, and Christians of many denominations worked together to rescue primarily Jewish children. Many great people rose to the moment: Lord Baldwin, author of the famous appeal to British conscience; Rebecca Sieff, Sir Wyndham Deeds, Viscount Samuel; Rabbi Solomon Schoenfeld, Nicholas Winton who organised the Czech transports; and the Quaker leaders Bertha Bracey and Jean Hoare and many others.
During the early years of Hitler's Third Reich, the Quakers established a reputation for their willingness to assist Jews or anyone else who sought refuge in Nazi Europe. The Quakers and the Jehovah Witnesses extended help to Jews in distress as a formal church policy. Soon after Kristallnacht in 1938, they lobbied and funded Jewish immigration from Germany and Austria. They also responded to the growing problem of caring for thousands of children and infants whose parents were shipped to detention or concentration camps by taking an active role in the Kindertransport.
In a world torn by hate and war, the Society of Friends ministered to all people in pain —while risking their lives by open opposition to Hitler's Reich.
The Christadelphians responded to the appeal to rescue the children fleeing from Nazi oppression by doing collections to fund the evacuation and finding homes within their community. They made regular trips to meet the young arrivals and to collect frightened and tearful children, some as young as three. The scene was such that 'hardened London Bobby's' (policemen) were moved to tears. Once the children had been collected, homes were found for them. Some hostels were established to look after teenage refugee boys during the war.
Nicholas Winton, then a 29-year-old clerk at the London Stock Exchange, visited Prague, Czechoslovakia, in late 1938. He spent only two weeks in Prague but was alarmed by the influx of refugees, endangered by the imminent Nazi invasion. He immediately recognized the advancing danger and courageously decided to make every effort to get the children outside the reach of Nazi power.
He set up office at a dining room table in his hotel in Prague. Word got out of the 'Englishman of Wenceslas Square' and parents flocked to the hotel to try to persuade him to put their children on the list, desperate to get them out before the Nazis invaded. 'It seemed hopeless,' he said years later, 'each group felt that they were the most urgent.' But Winton managed to set up the organization for the Czech Kindertransport in Prague in early 1939 before he went back to London to handle all the necessary matters from Britain.
For each child, he had to find a foster parent and a 50 pound guarantee, in those days a small fortune. He also had to raise money to help to pay for the transports.
In nine months of campaigning, Nicholas Winton managed to arrange for 669 children mainly Czech, but also Austrians and Germans to get out on eight trains. One by one, English foster parents collected the refugee children and took them home, keeping them safe from the war and the genocide that was about to consume their families back home.
Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schonfeld
One of the most remarkable rescuers was Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld who personally rescued thousands of Jews from the hands of the Nazi forces in Central and Eastern Europe during the years 1938-1948. A very charismatic and dedicated young man, he single-handedly brought over to England several thousands of refugees and provided his "charges" not only with safety, but also with homes, education and jobs. In the fall of 1938, following Kristallnacht, Julius Steinfeld, a communal leader in Austria, called Rabbi Schonfeld, pleading with him to assemble a children’s transport to England. Rabbi Schonfeld boarded a train to Vienna and helped organize a kindertransport of close to 300 youngsters, providing the British government with his personal guarantee in order to secure their entry. Eventually he saved over four thousand children. Even before the kindertransport,Rabbi Schonfeld brought 1,200 German Jewish communal workers and their families to England. He continued to lobby intensively throughout the war to find temporary refuge whenever it was possible and managed to secure thousands of visas for people to escape. After the war he rushed to the liberated continent to serve the spiritual and physical needs of survivors and to evacuate them from war torn Europe.
Helga Bellenger geb./nee Kohn Wien, Österreich/Vienna, Austria,9 Jahre/ 9 years Mutter überlebte, ihr Bruder wurde im Konzentrationslager ermordet Mother survived, Mother's Brother killed in concentration camp „Mutter putzte den Gehsteig in ihrem Pelzmantel“ „mother scrubbing the pavement in her fur coat”
Nora Danzig geb./nee Braunschweiger Hosbach, BRD/ Germany, 8 Jahre/ 8 years Eltern wurden nach Theresienstadt deportiert, bis auf eine Kusine ist die gesamte Familie umgekommen Parents deported to Theresienstadt, all family murdered, one cousin survived „Mein Vater war wie die meisten Deutschen, sehr pragmatisch“ „Father, as most Germans, was very methodical”
Lore Gordon geb./ nee Heimann Wuppertal, BRD / Germany, 16 Jahre /16 years Vater wurde nach Theresienstadt deportiert, die Eltern überlebten Father sent to Theresienstadt, both parents survived „meine Eltern sind so nah wie möglich am (Bahn) Fenster gestanden“ „my parents stood as close to the window as they could”
Dorothea Douglas geb./ nee Koniec (Herbert Kaye, Bruder/brother) Bratislava, Slowakei/Slovakia, 14 Jahre/14 years Eltern ermordet Parents perished „Das Leben war voller Angst” „life became full of fear”
Herbert Kaye geb./nee Koniec Bratislava, ( Dorothea Douglas, Schwester/sister) Bratislava, Slowakei/Slovakia 10 Jahre /10 years Eltern ermordet Parents perished „das letzte Mal geschliffen von meiner Mutter 1939“ “last polished by my Mother in 1939”
Jochewet Heiden geb./nee Heidenstein Berlin, BRD/ Germany 16 Jahre/16 years 2 Schwestern überlebten, der Rest der Familie ist umgekommen Two sisters survived, the rest of the family perished „Ich glaube keines der Mädchen hat überleb“ „I don't think any of the girls survived”
Ingrid Joseph Wien, Österreich /Vienna, Austria, 12 Jahre /12 years Mutter und Großmutter wurden von der Gestapo auf den Transport ins Ghetto Minsk ermordet Mother and Grandmother killed by the Geheime Staatspolizei on the transport to Minsk „da waren überall Fahnen, ich wußte das ist irgendwie gegen mich“ „there were flags everywhere, I knew this was somehow against me”
Marion Gross geb./nee Levy Berlin, BRD / Germany, 16 Jahre /16 years Eltern konnten flüchten und überlebten Parents escaped and survived „A&C Levi war ein Eckgeschäft nahe dem Alexanderplatz“ „A&C Levi was a corner shop near Alexander Platz”
Stephane Kester Chemnitz, BRD/ Germany, 11 Jahre /11years Großeltern nach Theresienstadt deportiert und in Treblinka ermordet Grandparents sent to Theresienstadt and perished in Treblinka „aus der Schule geworfen, weil ich jüdisch bin“ „thrown out of school because of my being Jewish”
Josi Knight geb./ nee Eberstarkova Trstena, Slowakei/Slovakia, 15 Jahre /15 years Eltern veschwunden Parents lost “Ein Symbol meiner Verantwortlichkeit” “A symbol of my responsibility”
Bertha Leverton München, BRD /Munich, Germany, 15 Jahre /15 years Eltern haben überlebt Parents survived „nur die Gabel ist übrig geblieben“ „only the fork remains”
Eva Lorimer geb./nee Rhein Hamburg, BRD / Germany, 6 Jahre - es war ihr Geburtstag /6 years – it was her birthday Mutter wurde in ihrer Wohnung im Dezember 1941 verhaftet, ins Ghetto nach Riga (Litauen) deportiert und dort ermordet, keine Erwähnung vom Schicksal des Vaters Mother taken from apartment by the nazis in December 1941, transported to Riga, in Latvia, where she was murdered. No mention of father. „aus dieser Wohnung aus der meine Mutter deportiert wurde“ „from this apartment that my M
Ilse Melamid Wien, Österreich /Vienna Austria, 11 Jahre /11years Vater überlebte, Mutter und Schwester in Auschwitz ermordet Father survived, Mother and Sister perished in Auschwitz „den Koffer mit einem schweren Herzen gepackt – aber sie rettete mein Leben“ „packed my suitcase with a heavy heart - but she saved my life”
Eduard Chanoch Merzbach Frankfurt, BRD / Germany, 15 Jahre / 15 years wurde in einem Kindertransport am 4. Januar 1939 nach Holland geschickt, blieb in Eindhoven und ist wahrscheinlich m 6. März 1939 in Palästina angekommen (er hat 150 Gebetbücher zu seiner Bar Mitzwah bekommen, aber nur das eine im Koffer ist übriggeblieben) was sent to Holland on a Kindertransport on Janury 4th, 1939. He was held in Eindhoven but eventually arrived in Palestine on March 6th, 1939. (Given 150 books for his Bar
Milena Roth Prag, Tschechische Republik /Prague, Czech Republic, 6 Jahre /, 6 years Eltern wurden nach Theresienstadt deportiert und dann weiter nach Auschwitz, wo sie ermordet wurden Parents deported to Theresienstadt, then to Auschwitz where they were murdered „Mutter lehrte in einem geheimen Kindergarten“ „mother taught in a secret nursery school”
Vera Schaufeld Klatovy, Tschechische Republik /Czech Republic, 9 Jahre /9 years Eltern und Großmutter im Konzentrationslager ermordet Parents and Grandmother perished in concentration camp „sie standen hinter der Absperrung“ „they stood behind the barrier”
Ruth Sellers Karlsruhe, BRD / Germany, 16 Jahre /16 years Vater war Jude, Mutter ist konvertiert und wurde zum Arbeitsdienst abkommandiert. Vater und Schwester wurden nach Theresienstadt deportiert, sollten 1945 noch nach Auschwitz deportiert werden, aber durch die Invasion der Roten Armee überlebten sie. Father was Jewish, Mother converted. Father and sister were sent to Teresienstadt. Mother was made to do heavy work. In 1945, father and sister were to be sent to Auschwitz but the Russian army
Frieda Simmons geb./ nee Kiwi Fürstenwald, BRD / Germany (Wendy Wood, Schwester/sister), 9 Jahre /9 years Eltern in einem Konzentrationslager in Polen ermordet, es gibt keine weiteren Informationen Parents killed in concentration camp in Poland, no further information „er konnte nicht sprechen, er konnte die Worte nur flüstern“ „he could not talk, he could only whisper the words”
Wendy Wood geb./nee Kiwi Fürstenwald, BRD / Germany (Frieda Simmons, Schwester /sister), 12 Jahre /12 years Eltern in einem Konzentrationslager in Polen ermordet, es gibt keine weiteren Informationen Parents killed in concentration camp in Poland, no further information „Chanukka 1937, bevor unser Haus weggenommen wurde“ „Chanuka 1937, in Fürstenwalde before our house was taken”
Else Shamash geb./ nee Karplus Berlin- Charlottenburg, BRD / Germany Sie war 12 Jahre alt als sie mit dem Kindertransport am 2. März 1939 nach London fuhr. Wenige Wochen später kamen ihre Eltern nach. Sie hatten alls verloren, aber sie waren in Sicherheit. Ihr Bruder Heinz lebt jetzt in Chicago. Else left on the Kindertransport on March 2, 1939, she was 12 years old. Her parents both survived and arrived in England where the family were reunited a few weeks later. Brother Heinz lives in Chicago.
Ruth Singer geb./nee Cohn Halle an der Saale, BRD / Germany, 10 Jahre /10 years Vater in Auschwitz ermordet Father perished in Auschwitz „mein Vater sah in die Zukunft, in unsere Zukunft“ „my father look to the future, our future”
Ruth Sommerfeld Gera, BRD / Germany, 11 Jahre /11 years Mutter wurde während des Krieges ermordet Mother killed during the war “vom Lubavitcher Rebben ein Geschenk” „Given to me by the Lubavitcher Rebbe”
Pauline Worner geb. /nee Makowsky Köln, BRD /Cologne Germany, 10 Jahre /10 years Eltern wurden nach Polen deportiert, es gibt keine weiteren Angaben zu ihrem Schicksal Parents sent to Poland no record of their fate „laufend bis ans Ende des Bahnsteig, zum Abschied winkend“ „running till the end of the platform waving goodbye”