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Into the Arms of Strangers : Stories of the Kindertransport (original 2000; edition 2000)

by Mark Jonathan Harris, Deborah Oppenheimer

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Title:Into the Arms of Strangers : Stories of the Kindertransport
Authors:Mark Jonathan Harris
Other authors:Deborah Oppenheimer
Info:MJF Books (2000), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:To read
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Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport by Mark Jonathan Harris (2000)

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In January of 1933 Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers party came to power. The repercussions of this had far-reaching consequences that reverberate today.

Representing only 1% of the population, approximately 600,000 Jews lived in Germany. Unlike the majority of Germany’s population who lived in rural areas, the Jewish population was highly concentrated in the cities of Germany. ¾ of the Jewish population were employed and were high contributors to society. They were three times more productive than the general population.

Why then, they wondered, were they chosen as brutal targets of a man they perceived would not last long in a government role. German people were, after all, perceived as highly intelligent and surely, the craziness would be temporary. As the inhumanity escalated, why then, they wondered, did the world turn away from stopping this insanity.

On November 9th, 1938, the Nazi’s let it be known, in no uncertain terms, that to be Jewish in Germany meant persecution and a systematic purposeful dissolving of their culture and their existence.

When, on that evening, broken glass was smashed, when, on that evening, 1,000 synagogues were burnt and 7,500 Jewish business’ were destroyed, and when, on that evening 30,000 men were taken away to concentration camps, there was little doubt that Hitler had power and meant business.

Horrified at the brutality, England alone decided that something must be done to save the children. Sadly, the United States turned their backs, thus in effect they were responsible for the death of the innocents.

Quickly, a major, remarkable event occurred. Within a nine month period, the people of England opened their hearts and homes to 10,000 Jewish children. This book is the story, told by some of those children who were transported away from their parents and Into The Arms of Strangers.

Sadly, tragically, of the 10,000 children, a mere 1,000 were re-united with their families. Heartbreakingly displaced, so many of the children never saw their parents again. Throughout the years when no word arrived, all worried and all feared the fate of their family.

At the age of 14, Lorraine Allard arrived in England. Later, she learned both her parents were killed in Auschwitz.

Lory Cahn’s father arranged Kindertransport for her, but at the very last minute could not bear to let her go. As a result, when liberated, she weighed a mere 58 pounds after spending years barely surviving in one concentration camp after another.

Hedy Epstein was fourteen when transported to London. Returning to German after the war, she learned that both parents were murdered at Auschwitz.

Ursula Rosenfeld’s father was taken on the evening of Kristallnach and murdered at Buchenwald.

As she received word that she was to be a refugee in England, ten year old Lore Segal was given directions to find help for her parents and family. At this tender age, the burden was placed on her shoulders to get her parents safely out of Austria. Remarkably, she was successful and her parents were given domestic jobs in Liverpool.

Kurt Fuchel was one of the very lucky children who had the stability of a loving English family with whom he lived for nine years and the great fortune of having parents who survived. However, reunited with his biological parents when he was sixteen initially proved problematic. His life, and theirs, had changed dramatically.

I highly recommend this book and the academy award-winning documentary of The Kindertransport. ( )
14 vote Whisper1 | Jun 25, 2010 |
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in memory of my mother
Deborah Oppenheimer

for my children
Mark Jonathan Harris
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Looking back, I had a wonderful childhood.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 158234101X, Hardcover)

Between December 1938 and the outbreak of war in August 1939, some 10,000 children, the vast majority of them Jews, from Germany, Austria, Poland, and Czechoslovakia were evacuated to Great Britain. The stories of 18 witnesses to this Kindertransport--children, parents, and rescuers--are recounted in Into the Arms of Strangers.

These first-person accounts are woven into a loose narrative of life before the Nazi era, the transport, and life in their new homes. The editors wisely remain in the background, allowing the survivor testimony to shine through. Their experiences were diverse: some stayed behind, such as Norbert Wollheim, a Kindertransport organizer who refused a number of chances to escape from Germany, knowing that if he did, the transports would be stopped. Lory Cahn was actually on a train when her father pulled her off; he was unable to let her go. Those who made it to England found challenges of their own: some remained in hostels for the remainder of the war; some were taken in by families to work as cheap servant labor; still others were taken in by loving families, but then had to deal with "survivor's guilt."

Years after the war, Vera Gissing asked her foster father why he and his family had taken her in. He answered, "I knew I could not save the world. I knew I could not stop the war from starting. But I knew I could save one human life." Into the Arms of Strangers is a moving tribute to this remarkable event. --Sunny Delaney

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:43 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Chronicles the events and people involved in the rescue of 10,000 children from Nazi territories, and what happened after the war. Official tie-in to the Warner Brothers documentary. First hand account of the extraordinary rescue mission of 10,000 children before the outbreak of World War II. For nine months before the outbreak of World War II, Britain conducted an extraordinary rescue mission. It opened its doors to over 10,000 endangered children, 90 percent of them Jewish, from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. These children were taken into foster homes and hostels in Britain, expecting eventually to be reunited with their parents. Most of the children never saw their families again. Into the Arms of Strangers recounts the remarkable story of this rescue operation, known as the Kindertransport, and its dramatic impact on the lives of the children who were saved. The book is the companion to the feature-length documentary which was released in the theatres by Warner Bros. in Fall 2000. It contains stories in their own words from the child survivors, rescuers, parents, and foster parents. They recount, in harrowing detail, the effects of the Nazi's reign of terror, the horror of Kristallnacht, the agonizing decision by the parents to send their children away, the journey, the difficulties of adjustment in Britain, the outbreak of war, and the children's tragic discovery afterward that most of their parents had perished in concentration camps. The stories are heartbreaking, but also inspiring. These are the stories of those who survived with the help of others; they are stories about the strength and resolve of children; and most astonishing, these are stories not yet heard about the Holocaust.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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