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30 January 2023
On Friday 27th January a Holocaust memorial service was held in Harwich for the first time
Following the unveiling of the Kindertransport memorial on the Harwich Quayside on 1 September 2022, Harwich Town Council believes that there is now a fitting focal point to honour Holocaust Memorial Day. This was also a time to reflect on the brave parents that took the decision to send their children to safety in Britain, while they faced their unfortunate fate, with most perishing in the Holocaust.
“The Kindertransport Memorial recognises Harwich’s role in the protection of many thousands of Jewish children through the Kindertransport but it also offers a focal point for us to remember and reflect on the horror of the Holocaust. It is only a small act of remembrance and reflection, but Harwich Town Council believes it to be an important one.”Cllr Ivan Henderson, Mayor of Harwich
The ceremony commemorated the victims of the Holocaust with candles and floral tributes placed at the statue. The first tribute was laid by the Mayor of Harwich, Cllr. Ivan Henderson, on behalf of the town. The town welcomed all that wished to pay their respects by inviting them to add their own candle or floral tribute. Then, a minute’s silence was observed.
A survivors’ family testimonial and poem were read by Dr Tamar Drukker:
My mother was born in 1938, near the Hague, just across the water from here, to German Jewish parents who met in Holland after each of them realised it was no longer safe to live in Germany. However, her parents were hopeful, looking forward to a better future together, and a year later their second daughter was born.
In May 1940 German forces invaded Holland and within a week the entire country was under Nazi occupation. The very first ruling of the new regime was the evacuation of German Jews from the coast, and my grandparents had one day to pack and to find a new place to live inland. To survive they needed to improvise, to change their identities, to remain unseen and unaccounted for, and they needed the help of others. An artist friend, the typographer and later the curator of the Museum of Modern Art in Amsterdam, Willem Sandberg, forged their papers. But with two young girls, it was impossible to keep shifting identities and cover stories. My grandmother had blue-eyes and blonde hair. She had a good ear for languages and her Dutch was almost native. She joined the anti-Nazi underground, even here under a false identity, and helped arrange safe hiding places for Jews and others whose life was at risk. And then my grandparents made the very difficult decision to put their trust in strangers and to place their own daughters in the care of others.
My mother and her sister spent the war years with many different host families, mostly villagers, in the countryside. In some homes they only stayed a night or two, with other families they stayed for almost a year. Their hosts risked their lives and that of their families, to give my mother another chance at life, every single day.
My mother remembers one happy summer, where she and her sister stayed with a family on a big farm. They were allowed to sleep in the barn, and spent the long summer days out in the fields, playing with the other children.
One late September day, when they came back from their play, they found their bags
packed and a stranger with a bicycle ready to take them away. They were taken to another place, and then another, and another. And in every new place and with every new family, there was the imperative to be a good girl. They never even had the chance to say goodbye. There was no explanation.
Many years later, through the internet, the eldest daughter of that host family traced my mother. She told her how sorry they all were to see the girls leave, how worried they were about them, but that somebody in the village had asked too many questions and it was no longer safe for them to stay with them.
Unlike almost every Jewish family under Nazi occupation, my grandparents and daughters survived and were reunited after liberation.
This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day focuses on the theme of ‘ordinary people’. So many ordinary people did extraordinary things to allow my family members to live through these years of horror.
But my mother, as a little child, has lost the faith in her own value as an ordinary person.
On this thoughtful occasion I would like to share with you a poem, written by Chava Wolf. At eight years old she and her family were forced out of their home in the Carpathian mountains and were sent to a concentration camp. Years later she wrote about the home she would never go back to and I would like to read her poem, which I have translated from the Hebrew (you can find on the Yad VaShem Remembrance Centre Website):
That was home / Chava Wolf
I left a lit candle by the window,
And a doll in the corner.
Bread in the oven.
A pencil on the table
And a hat behind the door.
In the garden, apple, pear, and roses
I left behind a childhood dream, memories
That shine a light on the
Winding paths of life.
I came back. The rain on the window
The heart aches, fearing the return
to that same home.
The walls turned black. It was cold and empty.
The candle no longer burning,
The doll is gone.
The apple has fallen off the tree,
The roses withered.
And the dream from the past is no more.
On Sunday 29th January a talk with Mike Levy was held at the Electric Palace Cinema, as part of Essex University’s HMD Week events:
The Burrows Lecture: Essex – a first sight of freedom was a unique opportunity to hear the author of ‘Get the Children Out – Unsung Heroes of the Kindertransport’. that tells the remarkable story of this unique rescue, a glimmer of light amidst the crushing tragedy of the Holocaust.
A week prior to HMD, Director & Treasurer Michael Payne gave a talk at the Royal Hospital School, situated in Suffolk countryside overlooking the Stour Estuary.
Such activities will amplify the impact of the memorial statue.
20 January 2023
Audio Bench Installed in the Mayor’s Garden
Everyone is welcome to have a seat and listen to recorded testimonials of some of the children=kinder who arrived in Harwich in 1938 – about how they came here and their stay at the holiday camp.
The bench was funded by the Essex Community Foundation, Harwich Haven Authority, Essex Heritage Trust and Grassroots.
Pictured: Directors Sue Daish & Michael Payne. Photo by Maria Fowler
2 September 2022
Press coverage for the unveiling ceremony:
We are grateful to all the journalists who contributed to publicising the statue unveiling. Below are links to some of the clips and articles:
BBC Breakfast: https://twitter.com/BBCBreakfast/status/1565234052084469760
Harwich and Manningtree Standard: https://www.harwichandmanningtreestandard.co.uk/news/20862022.kindertransport-memorial-statue-unveiled-harwich/
5 News: https://twitter.com/5_News/status/1565404781358845954?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet
ITV news: https://www.itv.com/news/anglia/2022-09-01/children-who-fled-nazi-persecution-unveil-new-statue-80-years-later
Evening Standard: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/harwich-essex-germany-jewish-london-b1022487.html
The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/sep/01/it-saved-my-life-kindertransport-veterans-unveil-statue-at-essex-port
5 May 2022
The Mayor of Harwich visited the nearby foundry Sculpture Services, to see the process of casting the statue in bronze
The statue is set to be unveiled on the Harwich Quayside in Autumn this year.
Harwich Mayor Ivan Henderson visited the bronze foundry on April 27th, to see the work in progress on the memorial statue.
The statue depicts five children descending from a ship’s gangplank, with moving quotes from Kinder which will be carved into the bronze.
The Harwich Standard newspaper followed up our story, click here to read it
27 March 2022
Two new commemorative oak trees in Harwich, planted by The Association of Jewish Refugees
On March 10th, the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR) sponsored the planting of two new oak trees – in Cliff Park Dovercourt and in Jubilee Park Parkeston.
Jude Stratton and her son planted a tree in memory of her mother Ruth Deutsch.
Helen Reissner and her family planted a tree in memory of her father, Eric Newman.
Both relatives travelled from Vienna to this country via Harwich in 1939, as part of the Kindertransport programme.
The AJR is now celebrating its 80th anniversary. They have been a major donor and instrumental to the success of our campaign.
16 March 2022
We were devastated to hear of the sudden loss of Director Graham Crame, RIP, a great friend and veteran of many humanitarian aid convoys for Hope and Aid Direct. His compassionate and mindful legacy will continue to guide our work in building the Kindertransport Memorial in Harwich, his beloved home town, and the development and implementation of the Educational Programme.
23 February 2022
The Jewish Renaissance magazine published a full-page news item about the project, and has kindly allowed us to upload it here. Thank you also to Janine Kohan for her devoted Press work.
22 February 2022
New book publication announcement:
Get the Children out! Unsung heroes of the Kindertransport / Mike Levy
The book is available on Amazon and on the publisher’s website.
26 January 2022
Our campaign to raise funds for the memorial figures depicting five children descending a ship’s gangplank, is now realising its target.
As Holocaust Memorial Day approaches we are pleased to announce that the new memorial to the Kindertransport is set to be unveiled in Autumn 2022,
On this occasion we would like to thank the German government for contributing a significant sum, thus making it possible to reach our fundraising target.
1 December 2021
Major Donation Announcements:
We are grateful to the Grassroots Charity – operating in Colchester and Tendring – for their generous donation towards completing the memorial project.
20 November 2021
Our Trustee Sue Daish – a Harwich History Society Tour Guide – gave a brilliant interview to BBC Essex – Quest about the Kindertransport and the memorial project.
Tune in to find out about how the children experienced their arrival in Harwich, and all the significant help that locals gave the children who stayed on in Dovercourt for the winter of 1939.
Click the PLAY button to listen:
25 October 2022
Major Donation Announcements:
We are immensely grateful to Dame Stephanie Shirley for her generous donation. Dame Stephanie (Steve) arrived to the UK via Harwich in 1939 as an unaccompanied child refugee, and in 1962 started a software business from her dining table which grew to employ 8,500 people.
The memorial project was recently awarded a generous grant from the Essex Community Fund (ECF) This grant is funded by the Harwich Haven Authority, which is administered by the ECF.
24 September 2021
We collaborated on new educational resources for Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2022: A large audience attended the launch event, including Lord Dubs, Vera Schaufeld MBE, and educators from all around the country.
18 August 2021 – selected items from the August newsletter:
Downton Abbey movie team donation: The team behind the global hit, recently shooting new upcoming film scenes in Harwich, have given £1,000 to the memorial appeal!
We made it to the national press! Jewish News published an article which received hundreds of shares and helped spread our story far and wide: Read & share with your contacts
Our key supporter Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR) published an excellent follow up article titled “A Step Closer to Harwich” about the work on the memorial: Read on page 4
9 July 2021
We are honoured to be the first to publish an original and personal article by Ann Chadwick: Suzie
When I was two and so very new in the world, a big sister suddenly arrived, with dark curly hair, sharp elbows, a tendency to nick my dolls and speaking a language I did not understand.
Suzie was five, an Austrian Jewish refugee and forever labelled a “kindertransport child”.
Her distraught parents had handed her over at midnight on Prague station to a group of rescuers, whose efforts secured her safety and brought her into the Chadwick family.
Although Suzie’s parents later got news that she had settled well, they were not allowed to come with her and were never to see their daughter again. They were both later murdered in Auschwitz. My parents had responded to an appeal to care for a refugee child from Europe for as long as necessary, pledging the large amount of £50 towards the cost of eventual repatriation, which of course never happened. My Dad was earning £4.00 a week as a teacher.
So began our sisterhood in July 1939, just two months before the start of WW2.
I soon learned that ‘ich weiss nicht’ meant ‘I don’t understand’, and my parents soon learnt that when Suzie wailed all through the night murmuring ‘Mutti’ and ‘Taschentuch’, she wanted her Mum and a handkerchief.
They soon grew to love and understand her and so did I.
Why am I telling you all this now, 82 years later? Because I feel I owe it to her and her parents to be involved in ensuring that the children of today remember Suzie’s story*, and that of the other children on the Kindertransport.
We still see refugee children arriving today with no accompanying parents and no home to go to.
Suzie changed my life. I share our story in schools and am thrilled that there is to be a permanent memorial in Harwich where the children first felt security, and where, to their astonishment, a policeman smiled and was kind.
We need to commemorate all that the Kinder contributed to their adopted home and not let this amazing episode of history fade into the ever – decreasing ozone layer.
Suzie became an excellent nurse and the Night Superintendent at the London Hospital.
We WILL remember them and tell their story, in Harwich where the British journey all began. ‘Yes we can’ make that memorial happen, if we put our minds to it and our hands in our pockets like we did in 1939.
Suzie gave me so much, and I am the grateful one.
Article edited by Helen Brown, Community Liaison Manager
*“Suzie: the little girl who changed our lives” by Ann Chadwick. [Keystage Arts and Heritage Company, Cambridge, 2012]
2 June 2021
Artist Ian Wolter is working continuously on the memorial, and the fundraising committee was privileged to be invited to a tour inside his studio in Saffron Walden, Essex:
24 May 2021
We are now half way to funding the memorial statue!
The Harwich Kindertransport Memorial Appeal is looking now for a further £70,000 to help complete the statue on the quayside. While we continue with the fundraising campaign, we are forging partnerships with regional and national bodies, to develop the educational resources for teaching about the Kindertransport and other refugee narratives.
15 February 2021
We have now started collecting credit card donations via JustGiving.com – please visit our Support Us page for details. Meanwhile, the first figure of Ian Wolter’s statue is progressing well:
8 January 2021
The new year began with exciting news that our sculptor has started work on the memorial. Here’s a sneak preview of Ian Wolter working on the first figure.
23 December 2020
Our Chair Mike Levy gave a talk to the East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue. The topic was ‘Forgotten Heroes of the Kindertransport’. He highlighted the forgotten figures who set up the mass rescue of Jewish children from Nazi persecution. These included Wilfred Israel, Bertha Bracey and Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schonfeld.
8 December 2020
Pleased to announce our third and fourth donations. Thank you to all who read Mike Levy’s article in the AJR Journal, December 2020, page 10.
Our second donation has arrived – a major contribution from a private donor whose father was a key organiser of the first Kindertransports.
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