Monday, September 8, 2008

Kindertransport Memory Quilts

Dedication to Take Place on October 5

A dedication ceremony will be held to recognize the three Kindertransport Memory Quilts and welcome them to the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan at 1pm on Sunday October 5th. RSVP by calling 248-553-2400, ext. 25.

Quilt detail courtesy of the Kindertransport Association (KTA)

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Coverage in "Queens Courier"

New York's Queens Courier cited the Kindertransport numerous times in its recent set of Holocaust-related articles. Mentioned are at least three Kinder: Ellen Alexander nee Gladke, her sister Ursula, and Hannah Deutch.

In the article "The Will to Survive" (May 19, 2008), Jessica Lyons writes
About 10,000 children were able to find refuge in Great Britain through the Kindertransport, which is a German word meaning “transportation of children.” During the transports, which were held from December of 1938 to September of 1939, children left their parents to eventually live in foster homes.

Fresh Meadows resident Ellen Alexander, who was born in Berlin in 1929, went on the Kindertransport with her older sister Ursula. As a 10-year-old, she considered it a big adventure. She and her sister stayed with a couple previously unknown to the family throughout the duration of the war.
Lyons profiles Ellen Alexander here. From the profile:
"In 1945, right after the war ended, we got a telegram from my mother saying that she was alive and wondering if we had heard from my father, which of course we hadn’t because he had died by then," Alexander said. "He was sent on a death march to Auschwitz."

Alexander’s mother came to England to live with the girls and their foster parents in 1946. There were disagreements as to who should be in charge of the girls, and eventually Alexander, her mother and sister left for America, making it to the United States in 1947 after a 10-day sea voyage. Even after leaving England, Alexander said she kept in touch with her foster parents.
In "60 years later: Never ending anguish for survivors" (May 28, 2008), Noah Rosenberg mentions another Kind, Hannah Deutch. From her profile:
A great aunt, who had a cousin in charge of the child transport, or Kindertransport, in London, added Deutch, who was 18 at the time, to a list of around 150 children who were being sent to the U.K. Deutch’s mother and stepfather, unable to get visas to come to England, managed to get on the last ship leaving from Holland to Chile before war was declared.

Realizing she owed a debt of gratitude to England, Deutch became a registered nurse and joined the British Army. Based in London, Deutch came face to face with war casualties and collected "the arms, legs and heads" of a troop transport that had been bombed. Deutch heard the first "buzz bomb" floating above London and at one point she, herself, was bombed out.

"I can still feel the ceiling on my back pushing all the people down the stairs," she said....

She eventually learned that her aunt, uncle and grandmother, who had raised her for a time while her mother was ill, along with her two-year-old cousin, had died at the Riga concentration camp....

Deutch still reels from the fact that Nazi Germany destroyed her family, stole her German identity and forever altered the landscape of world Jewry.

"It’s something that doesn’t leave you. You put it away in your brain so it doesn’t hurt you from day to day," Deutch explained.

"But it’s there."

Thanks to Joseph Haberer for the lead.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Eva Kollisch: "The Ground Under My Feet"

Eva Kollisch, rescued in childhood from the Nazis by a Kindertransport, will read from her new book, The Ground Under My Feet, in New York City at the Morningside Bookshop (2915 Broadway at 114th Street, (212-222-3350) on Thursday, June 12th, 2008 at 7pm.

Kollisch is professor emerita at Sarah Lawrence College, where she taught literature for over 30 years. She is the author of Girl in Movement, a memoir of her early years inside a small American Trotskyist party during World War II.

Here's an excerpt from The Ground Under My Feet.

Siegmund Nissel, 86

Siegmund Nissel, second violinist in the Amadeus String Quartet (with Norbert Brainin, Peter Schidlof, and Martin Lovett) has died at the age of 86, according to the Telegraph.
Siegmund Walter Nissel (Sigi) was born in Munich on January 3 1922 and began playing the violin at the age of six. His mother died when he was nine and he was taken by his father to live in Vienna, where his teachers included Max Weissgärber. Father and son were touring Germany in 1936 and saw some of the Olympic events in Berlin. As Jesse Owens, the black American runner, won one of his four gold medals Nissel spotted Hitler in his box and observed the Führer's discomfort. He also told, in Daniel Snowman's book The Hitler Emigrés, of how, two years later, he watched: "with horror and incredulity as the stolid burghers of Vienna welcomed the Nazis as 'liberators'."

Nissel was to leave the city on one of the last Kindertransport trains. He made his way to Britain where, in order to save his father, he had to find a guarantor. He knocked on doors until the Farrer family in Twickenham – total strangers, and Anglicans to boot – agreed to offer the requisite guarantee. Nissel père arrived in August 1939, just days before the outbreak of war.

Initially young Sigi was an air raid warden in Richmond, but he was soon interned on the Isle of Man as a "friendly enemy alien" by a British government fearful that the Nazis might have planted spies in the country.

There he met Schidlof and later Brainin. He was released after the intervention of [Ralph] Vaughan Williams and Myra Hess and found employment in the East End of London working in a metals factory for the war effort.
Here the "Wolf Gang" plucks a Bartók movement.

Source (3:05)

Thanks to Joseph Haberer for the lead.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Hugo Marom Gets Czech Wings

Pilot Hugo Marom, who left Czechoslovakia on the Kindertransport, recently received the wings of the Czech Air Force, as reported in the article "After sixty years, pilots finally get their wings" by Yossi Melman for Haaretz (March 31, 2008).
Marom was born in Czechoslovakia to the Meisel family, whose family tree shows that they spent 1,000 years in the country. "My father used to say that we were more Czech than the Czechs," he said with a smile.

Marom's life was saved when he was sent out of Czechoslovakia to Great Britain as part of the Kindertransport in 1939. He returned to his homeland after World War II and was offered a spot in a pilots' course for Czech Jews in 1948; those who completed the course were supposed to be sent to help the fledgling Jewish state fight for its existence....

After completing the course, Marom moved to Israel and became one of the first members of the IAF [Israel Air Force]. He was the first commander of the flight school and made the rank of major - the most veteran major in the air force, he said - and retired from the IAF in 1954. He served for 10 years as the chief test pilot for the Defense Ministry and Israel Aerospace Industries, and went on to plan airports around the world as a private consultant. He planned airports in the United States and Paraguay, and is working on Israel's second international airport, which is slated to go up off the coast of Tel Aviv after the Sde Dov airport shuts down.
Thanks to Joseph Haberer for the lead.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Geoffrey Hartman to Speak in NYC

As a tie-in with his memoir A Scholar's Tale, literary critic and Yale University professor Geoffrey Hartman is scheduled to appear at The Museum of Jewish Heritage at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, April 2, 2008.

Professor Hartman will reflect on how his career was influenced by his experience as a child of the Kindertransport.

Admission is $5 but free for museum members. The program is part of the Museum's book club, Looking Back, Facing Forward, co-sponsored by the Forward and moderated by its associate editor, Gabriel Sanders.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Erica Jesselson (Pappenheim), 86

Kind Erica Jesselson, a major Judaica collector and a co-founder of Manhattan's Yeshiva University Museum, died on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 at her home in the Bronx, as reported by The New York Times and other sources. From Dennis Hevesi's obituary in the Times:
Born Erica Pappenheim in Vienna on March 1, 1922, Mrs. Jesselson was a daughter of Adolph and Paula Pappenheim. When World War II broke out, she and her sister, Lucy, were among 10,000 Jewish children evacuated to England on Kindertransport trains. In 1940, they were reunited with their parents, who had escaped to the United States and found a home in Brooklyn.
Erica Jesselson purchased the First Nuremberg Haggadah at auction for more than $1,000,000 in 2001; she donated the rare manuscript to the Israel Museum. With her husband Ludwig, she had also purchased and contributed the Trent Manuscript and other important artifacts to the Yeshiva University Museum.

The Yeshiva University's obituary mentions many more of the couple's achievements, including the financing of a synagogue at the Haifa Technion, the founding of a religious school for girls in Jerusalem, the endowment of a chair of mathematics at The Hebrew University, the endowment of a program for rabbinic scholarship at Bar-Ilan University, and the planning and building of Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek hospital, for which Erica Jesselson served as national president of the American Friends of Shaare Zedek Hospital. Jesselson, who was highly involved with Yeshiva University, a vice chairman of the Center for Jewish History, and a co-founder of PEJE (Partnership in Excellence in Jewish Education), also served on the International Board of Bar-Ilan University and the boards of the Haifa Technion, the Israel Museum, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and the UJA Federation of New York.

Erica Jesselson is survived by her sister, Lucy Lang, as well as three sons and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Representative Tom Lantos (1928-2008)

Representative Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo, San Francisco), 80, passed away this morning due to complications from esophageal cancer.

The only Holocaust survivor who has served in the United States Congress, Representative Lantos spoke at the 2004 Kindertransport Association (KTA) national reunion, which was held in Burlingame, California. Born in Budapest, he escaped a forced labor camp and served in the anti-Nazi underground. Many of his family members perished in the Holocaust.

Here Lantos is pictured visiting a federally funded shelter for homeless women and children.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

"German Students Confront the Holocaust"

Kind Selmar Hubert recently recounted his experiences to young people from the German School and other Westchester, NY schools, as reported in "German Students Confront the Holocaust," a February 10, 2008 New York Times article by Joseph Berger. The students attended a traveling exhibit about Anne Frank. Excerpts from the article:
The students were also spellbound by a talk given by Selmar Hubert, 82, of Rye Brook, who described the brutality he experienced growing up in the 1930s in the Bavarian village of Cronheim. He told of the day his schoolmates pounced on him and his sister, cursing and spitting at them, while the teacher, a Nazi, egged them on. The school forced him to shout slogans like "Kill all Jews."

"Imagine what it feels like to shout 'Kill all Jews' when you’re Jewish," Mr. Hubert said.

Mr. Hubert held the students riveted, like a counselor telling a ghost story around a campfire. On Kristallnacht in 1938, Nazi vandals ransacked his home; his father was taken to Dachau, then released as inexplicably as he had been arrested. Finally, his father put the boy — just 13 —on a train that would take him to England in the Kindertransport program that saved 10,000 Jewish children.

"I looked in his eye and he looked in mine and we both knew we would never see each other again," Mr. Hubert said. In fact, they did not.

But Mr. Hubert also wanted students to know about the English people who safeguarded him and his sister and about his return seven years ago to Cronheim, where he was warmly greeted by children from the very village that had once scorned him.

He echoed Anne Frank.

"You have to have faith in the goodness of people," Mr. Hubert said. "I would not be sitting here if not for that."

Mr. Hubert like to tells [sic] young Germans troubled by guilt over atrocities they did not perpetrate that he suffers from survivors’ guilt. "Neither your feelings nor my feelings make any sense," he will say. "How can we overcome that guilt? That’s one of the things we do here — help each other."
Thanks to Joseph Haberer for the lead.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Returning to NYC: Kindertransport, The Play

The play Kindertransport, by Diane Samuels, is scheduled to be performed at the historic Provincetown Playhouse (133 MacDougal Street, New York, NY) on various dates and times from February 22 through March 2, 2008, in a production offered by the Steinhardt School of New York University (NYU).

Admission is $15 ($5 with NYU ID). Call 212-998-5281 for info and reservations.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Kindertransport Event at United Nations

The Oscar-winning documentary Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport will be screened on Thursday, January 31, 2008 at the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium at the United Nations. A question and answer discussion will follow with producer and KT2 Deborah Oppenheimer and David G. Marwell, Director of New York City's Museum of Jewish Heritage. Local survivors who appear in the film will be in attendance.

Commemorating the third annual observance of Holocaust Remembrance Week, the event will be hosted by Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary General for Communicatons and Public Information, with opening remarks by Ambassador Karen Pierce of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the United Nations.

NOTE Registration for the event is now closed due to the high level of interest.