Object of the Fortnight 28/6/13
The 75th Anniversary of Kindertransport
The Kindertransport was an astonishing operation to rescue Jewish children and young adults from German occupied Europe. This suitcase is a symbol of the many children who had to leave their families and possessions behind, in order to escape Nazi persecution. Britain sanctioned a mission to bring Jewish children to the UK after the devastation of Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass), when the Nazis organised anti-Semitic attacks in Germany and Austria, including smashing windows of Jewish-owned businesses. As many as 10,000 Jewish children between the years 1938 and 1940 travelled to the United Kingdom without their parents and many never saw their parents again. Bradford was one of the many places where refuge was sought.
The Bradford community, with its German connections, was at the forefront of helping Jews to leave the horrors of Nazi occupied Europe, and many Jewish people made Bradford their new home. Jewish children stayed at the Bradford Jewish Refugee Hostel, which was set up by Oswald Stroud who was the founder of manufacturers Stroud Riley Drummond. Twenty four children were housed in the hostel. The hostel was then turned into a hotel called The Carlton and now is known as Jabez Hall and still plays a part in helping people as it functions as supported accommodation for recovering drug and alcohol users. This particular object was actually owned by a child fleeing persecution. Axel Landmann kindly donated the suitcase to the Peace Museum in 2008 and this object is remembered fondly as the ‘story of his life’. All that was in the case was a change of clothing and two school textbooks with school reports. A reunion was held on Sunday 23rd June to mark the 75th anniversary of the mission and to remember the countless lives saved. Those who had been travelled to the UK shared their experiences. Herman Hirschberger, was 11 when he came to the UK from Karlsruhe, in West Germany. He describes leaving his home town:
“We said goodbye to our parents, who said they would see us for a happy reunion in a few weeks’ time. But that’s the last time we ever saw them. They were murdered when the Holocaust began seriously, in 1942. They were murdered and gassed at Auschwitz.
I think the survival was due to an exceptional act of rescue which was Kindertransport which is to the credit of the British government at the time as well as the people who organised it.”
Visitors can see the object displayed at the Peace Museum.