The Kindertransport

Unaccompanied Jewish children

In the wake of the Krystallnacht pogrom, the Central British Fund for German Jewry and other relief organisations lobbied the British government to allow more German and Austrian Jews into the country.

The government agreed that unaccompanied Jewish children between the ages of two and seventeen years could enter the country. However, this was on the condition that they should not be a burden on the state. Entry into Britain was to temporary, and for each child a £50 bond had to be found in order to guarantee its eventual return home. 

On 2 December 1938 the first 200 children assembled in Berlin to begin their journey. Over the following nine months 10,000 unaccompanied, mainly Jewish, children travelled to safety in Britain. This mission became known as the ‘kindertransport’.

The children had been allowed to pack a small suitcase containing clothes and their cherished possessions. Their journey saw the children travel by train across Germany, through Holland and on to the Hook of Holland. From there they travelled by boat across the English Channel to Harwich in England.

A strange new world

Arriving in Harwich the children entered a strange new world. Most couldn't speak the language and had no idea who was going to care for them. Some of the younger children travelled on to Liverpool Street Station in London. There they met their volunteer foster parents for the first time. The older children tended to be housed in hostels.