Not too many British people recognise or can actually translate or place the German word ‘Kindertransport’. It sadly came into being in 1938, with the British Government’s ruling on the allowed immigration of German Jewish children onto British shores. The initial appeal for the migration of 10,000 Jewish children into the then ‘Palestine’was ignored, but heavy pressure brought by influential Opposition as well as Government supporters brought about a House debate, and a change of policy.
The rules were strict, harsh and never-to-be-deviated-from. The children, who eventually came from Germany, the old Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Estonia, Austria and other German-annexed lands, were to travel without any relative, small children were simply to be given to an older child to be looked after, were allowed only a small suitcase each, and the clothes which they wore! A bounty of £50 was charged by by the British Government, who had insisted that only private individuals and charities would take care of the children upon arrival, with no official activity, approval or cost to the taxpayer to be invoked.
They came in their hundreds, and then in their thousands; as the Continental Jewish families began to realise that Hitler and his Germany had little time for Jews, and life was rapidly becoming intolerable, especially after the horrors of Kristallnacht spread like a fast cancer across a Germany which was all too accommodating to the anti-semitic calls of a rabid Nazi Party and their armed stooges.
They arrived by air, they stumbled across the quays of Harwich, they arrived blinking at Liverpool Street Station, the last ship carrying the Kindertransport children left the Netherlands on May 14 1940. Some 99.9% of the parents and families of those Ten Thousand ‘Kindertransported’ children perished in the ovens of the Nazi Death Machine; that same Machine which of course was never known about, never revealed, and never-ever discussed by a totally innocent German population.
This is what the term ‘refugee’ is! This is what was meant when ‘asylum’ was given!
The figures in the statue represent a small group of five ‘Kindertransport’, blinking in the sunlight as they arrived at Liverpool Street Station.
You can also tell of the manner in which this simple tribute, sculpted by Frank Meisler, himself one of the ‘Kindertransports’ is looked upon by the inhabitants and passers-by by the litter and garbage which is so casually dumped upon the base of a tribute such as this!
X-posted from A Tangled Web