Monday, September 17, 2007

Nicholas Winton Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Bernard Josephs at The Jewish Chronicle reports that "More than 33,000 Czech schoolchildren have persuaded their government to nominate for the Nobel Peace Prize a British man who rescued hundreds of youngsters from the Nazis."

Former London Stock Exchange clerk Sir Nicholas Winton, 93, was instrumental in rescuing more than 650 children in Kindertransports via eight trains between March and August 1939.

In the article, Sir Nicholas remembers a ninth train.
A ninth train, the biggest, was to leave Prague on September 3, 1939, the day Britain entered the war — but it never left the station. "Within hours of the announcement, it disappeared,” he recalled. "We had 250 families waiting at Liverpool Street that day in vain. If the train had been a day earlier, it would have come through.

"Not a single one of those children was heard of again."
Known as the "British Schindler," Sir Nicholas has been honored internationally for his good deeds.

Liverpool Street Station Monument Controversy

The Jewish Chronicle reports that a controversy may still be simmering over the replacement of Flor Kent's problematic Kindertransport sculpture Für das Kind with Children of the Kindertransport, by Kind Frank Meisler, at London's Liverpool Street Station.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


The New York Times (September 14, 2007) reports the passing of Kind Fred Spira.
Sigfried Franz Spira was born in Vienna on Aug. 7, 1924, the only child of Hans and Paula Back Spira. After emigrating to the United States, he changed his name to S. Franklin Spira, but he preferred to be called Fred....

Mr. Spira’s father, a Jew, had been a banker in Vienna. When the bank failed in 1929, he and a Christian friend opened a camera store. As the Nazis made inroads into Austrian politics even before they invaded, 14-year-old Franz Spira was barred from attending high school. He began working in the camera store — but only in the back, out of sight with his father.

In 1939 he boarded a Kindertransport, one of the trains that rescued Jewish children by taking them out of the country. He was sent to England. Then, joined by his father in May 1940, he arrived in New York. His mother arrived later that year.
In the United States, Spira and his father remained in the photography business, creating the very successful Spiratone company. He became "a photo historian and collector of photographic gadgets who is credited with helping standardize modern camera equipment and making it accessible to amateurs."

A 1979 article in Popular Photography credited Spira with the popularity of equipment including the fish-eye lens, lenses that can be switched from one camera to another, and a system of interchangeable lens mounts: "What [Henry] Ford did to our economy and culture with the concepts behind the Model A and Model T, Spira has done to photography with his accessory lenses, close-up attachments and processing machines."

Spira created an extensive photography collection and co-authored the book The History of Photography as Seen Through the Spira Collection.

Spira is survived by his wife Marilyn and their sons Greg and Jonathan.


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (September 5, 2007) reports the passing of Kind Arnold Flagg at the age of 84.
Flagg understood that not every childhood was easy. He was born in Germany, orphaned by the age of 10 as the Nazis rose to power.

"I had a happy childhood until the Nazis," he said.

At 15, Flagg was sent to England as part of the "Kindertransport," a mission to provide children refuge from Nazi persecution. That was in 1939, just months before the war began.

Flagg tried to join the British Army at 16.

"They said to come back in two years, so I did," he said.

More than 60 years later, war memories were still all too real. Flagg spoke quietly, intensely, his eyes closed as he watched the battles again.

One of those battles was made famous in the movie "A Bridge Too Far."

"I was there, too," he said.

Later, the British military wanted Flagg for his skill with several languages.

"I was privy to the negotiations that led to the surrender of the German forces," Flagg said. "I ended up at the war crimes trials in Hamburg. I was offered a double promotion if I would stay on."

The turning point came when a Nazi captain - a doctor accused of killing children - denied that he had killed that many children.

"I said, 'Keep your promotion, I want to be out of here,' " Flagg recalled.

In 1947, he came to the United States, where his older brothers, Richard and Kenneth, already lived.
Flagg became a legal translator, founding a translating business as well as a language school. He served as a reading tutor in Milwaukee for 17 years and spoke with school audiences about the Holocaust.

Flagg married his wife Marion in 1953; their family includes three sons and grandchildren.

St. Louis: Kindertransport Play

The second production of the New Jewish Theatre's 2007-2008 season will be the Diane Samuels play Kindertranport. The production will run from November 28 through December 16, 2007.

As reported by Robert A. Cohn in Jewish Light Online,
The play is described as "a powerful and resonant study in dislocation, denial, abandonment and the guilt of survival through one woman's journey" as part of the Kindertransport, the separation of 10,000 European Jewish children from their families so that they could be transported to Great Britain to escape the Holocaust.

[New Jewish Theatre Artistic Director Kathleen] Sitzer said that following performances of Kindertransport, "we will not only have local St. Louis Holocaust survivors who were actually part of the Kindertransport, but also psychologists and psychiatrists discussing the many issues of family separation, issues of abandonment and guilt which resulted from that traumatic but necessary experience."
Here is a Q&A with Samuels.

A Blog Begins

Well, this is the start of a Kindertransport-related blog.

Let's see how it goes....