Remembering the Kindertransport

Association of Jewish Refugees were keen to have Quaker aspect of Kindertransport represented at their event

Bundesarchiv, CC-BY-SA 3.0.

Quakers’ pivotal role in rescuing almost 10,000 children from German-controlled Europe was acknowledged this week when the Kindertransport was commemorated.

Marigold Bentley, head of Peace Programmes and Faith Relations for Britain Yearly Meeting, was invited to the event, which was run by The Association of Jewish Refugees, and brought together ‘Kinder, refugees and host families’.

‘Quakers played a pivotal part of the Kindertransport from 1938 to 1939 because of a powerful combination of individuals with a strong moral compass working together collectively to focus on relief and saving lives,’ she said. ‘This, coupled with tenacious networking with decision-makers across faith and politics forced the door to be open to children in need. It wasn’t perfect but times were desperate.’

The event also featured David Attenborough whose parents welcomed two girls from the Kindertransport, saying ‘We’re all family now’. They remained life-long friends. He warned that the atrocity of unimaginable scale must never be forgotten. ‘The possibilities of good and evil are in us all,’ he said. But he had a message of hope. ‘We all have good intentions and they can be warped and they can be suppressed but in the end they are more powerful.’
Esther Rantzen praised those parents who hosted children and praised the courage of parents who entrusted their children to the Kindertransport. Many of these parents perished in the mass persecution.

Marigold Bentley said: ‘It was a humbling experience for me to be asked to contribute to such an event, particularly alongside such people as David Attenborough and Alf Dubs. They have been so constructive in their own lives and continue to inspire us with their personal stories. The Association for Jewish Refugees (AJR) were keen to have the Quaker aspect of Kindertransport represented at their event so I stepped up. So much more could have been said of course. We can read up about our Quaker history in order to learn and apply the lessons to our work in peace and service today [].’

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