A Spotlight On: Torn From Home, The Legacy Of The Kindertransports

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2019 is “Torn from Home”, exploring what it is like to be driven from home because of persecution or the threat of genocide. The Kindertransports were rescue operations which saved the lives of thousands of mainly Jewish refugee children before but also during World War 2.

10,000 of these children came to Britain to escape Nazi persecution; many came without their parents and other family members. Many would never see their homes or families again, and made new lives for themselves in their host nations. Others would travel back to their lands of birth to be reunited with their families, to dedicate memorials and to speak with school children about their experiences.

This talk will reflect upon what home meant to the Kinder, where they felt most safe, and where they now call home. It will also discuss what life was like in the children’s homelands compared to their host nations. How do the former children now view the countries they emigrated from, such as Germany? And how does Germany’s memory of the Kindertransport compare with Britain’s?

The talk also explores the sometimes dangerous and difficult journeys refugees make to find new homes, how survivors face many struggles as they try to rebuild their lives, and how some refugees make yet further journeys to find safety when the genocide is over.


Professor Bill Niven is Professor for Contemporary German History at Nottingham Trent University, UK. He has written widely on Germany’s attempts to come to terms with the Nazi and GDR pasts, and, more recently, on European memory of the Holocaust. His monographs include Facing the Nazi Past (2001), The Buchenwald Child (2007), Representations of Flight and Expulsion in East German Prose Works (2014) and Hitler and Film: The Führer’s Secret Passion (2018).

Amy Williams is a PhD researcher in History at Nottingham Trent University, financed by the Midlands4Cities/AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership. She is working on a study of the Memory of the Kindertransports in National and Transnational Perspectives exploring the way the Kindertransports have been represented in novels, museums, memorials, testimony and autobiography.


NMA Friends should call 01283 245 100 to book.

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