1938 - 1940

Kindertransport

Imperial War Museums

Between 1938 and 1940, nearly 10,000 children, fleeing the persecution of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe, were evacuated to Britain on the Kindertransport (children's transport). These are some of their stories.

These skating boots were brought to Britain by ten-year-old Herbert Koniec, who left Bratislava on a Kindertransport in June 1939. 

Herbert remembered that, 'Among my possessions were these boots and a pair of clip-on skates which I never used because my feet were too big by winter time and there was no ice about'. 

When he donated these to IWM, Herbert recalled that the last time they had been polished was by his mother in 1939. 

Both Herbert Koniec's parents were murdered by the Nazis in 1942. 

This drawing was sent to Ruth Neumeyer, who was evacuated to Britain from Dachau in Germany on a Kindertransport in 1939. 

The drawing shows Ruth playing the recorder with her foster sister in a hammock under a cherry tree in Cambridge. The drawing was accompanied by a duet composed by her father, Otto Neumeyer - a professor of music - for Ruth to play. 

Ruth said of the duet: 'I got it in Cambridge when I learnt to play the recorder with one of the girls in the household there...we used to play duets a lot, any music we could find...and he must have heard about this. He composed these two little pieces and sent them to a friend in Switzerland who managed to send them to us.'

Ruth's father died in the transit camp at Terezin. 

Ruth Neumeyer's mother is thought to have been murdered at Majdanek.

Inge Pollak brought this doll, named Trixie, with her when she was evacuated from Vienna on a Kindertransport in 1939. 

The doll had been given to Inge by her mother as a birthday present in 1938.

Inge left Nazi-occupied Vienna with her sister Lieselotte. They were sent to Falmouth, Cornwall. Inge wrote a diary describing in detail her life as a refugee in England. 

Inge Pollak's mother and grandmother perished in, or en route to, Minsk from Vienna in 1941. 

Otto Hutter was 14-and-a-half years old when he left Vienna on a Kindertransport on 10 December 1938. 

Otto's father bought him this coat the day before he left for England. The coat was bought several sizes too large to enable him to grow into it. Frau Hutter embroidered her son's name into the lining at the neck.

On his arrival in England, Otto Hutter went to Dovercourt Bay Holiday Camp on the East Anglian coast, where he was grateful for the warmth the coat provided that cold winter. He continued to wear it throughout his schooldays and after.

Steffie Carola Leyser brought this Chinese silk prayer book cover with her when she was evacuated from Chemnitz in Germany to Britain on a Kindertransport in 1939. 

The cover had belonged to her grandmother and once protected a prayer book that was also given to Steffie. 

Steffie Leyser said of her parents, 'I was very attached to both my mother and my father. They eventually came to the UK, but because of the circumstances, my father was very ill and died soon afterwards. He was 51 years old.' 

This coat hanger, inscribed 'Furs liebe Kind' ('For the beloved Child'), is one of a set of three, which Pauline Makowski brought in her luggage when she was evacuated from Cologne in Germany on a Kindertransport. 

Pauline recalled, 'I remember packing the case and being at the station. My sister, five years older than me, went running till the end of the platform waving goodbye....Somewhere we stopped for the night. I do remember being on the top tier in a bunk. I remember the boat, another bunk and milky tea and biscuits in the morning. Standing on deck on a bright cold morning with the sound of raucous seagulls and the sea.

These three little coat hangers seem to me so evocative of the love that went with sending us, small children, into an unknown future.'

The fate of Pauline Makowski's parents was never discovered. 

Credits: Story

Project Lead — Carolyn Royston
Technical Manager — Jeremy Ottevanger
Exhibition Curator — Emily Fuggle
Exhibition Content Developer — Jesse Alter

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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