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Harwich – a new life and a new freedom

Harwich – a new life and a new freedom

We have received the following reports regarding the recent memorable Kindertransport train journey from Liverpool Street to Harwich.

"I felt privileged to be allowed to join as a second generation participant, but with a legacy of my own - the memories of the ordeals of my own parents before they made it to Britain from Berlin in 1938. Although their ship had docked in Southampton, the ‘Nicholas Winton Train’ became symbolic of their journey to a new life and a new freedom. I thought about them a lot on that train to Harwich.

On arrival on Platform 6, I found myself embraced by the Austrian Ambassador and welcomed by Tobias, a young, vibrant Austrian man who had come along with the Ambassador. Tobias stayed for the ride and his conversation during the day made me aware of a new compassion and awareness in someone young and hopeful which we don't often come across in a world that all too often seems ferocious and unlistening.

I was uplifted by the extraordinary welcome in Harwich for all the Kindertransport survivors who had had the courage to make this journey. The entire occasion was extremely moving: the children’s applause as we got off the train, the warm welcoming speeches, the individual posies for all the Kinder, the special tour of Harwich on the old red bus with its vintage seating - great stuff! It was wonderful to see sea and be transported so expertly and in such style to surprise places.

The service at St Nicholas Church was very moving and what a beautiful thought to show us in the wonderful atmosphere of the Electric Palace Cinema old Pathé clips of newsreels of the Kinder’s arrival in England. It rather reminded me of the Saturday morning pics of my youth. I was very moved to have Kinder sitting next to me right there and very touched to spot Tobias struggling with a battered umbrella when the rains came to cover Harry, one of the Kinder, as they sought refuge during the break. Some of us stumbled in the rain towards an elegant hotel which served up a lovely menu. It was good to talk, just as it was good to have a day alone for reflection and for loving, if painful, memory.

The inclusion of the children of today as part of an experience of this kind is inspirational and it’s good to know that their own endeavours will go towards helping other refugee children. Many thanks to the AJR for all their original thought and work in this."

Yvonne Klemperer, 2nd Generation participant

"I wanted to thank AJR staff for their help with the day trip to Harwich, in facilitating contact with the Kinder, encouraging and supporting the day. I was really impressed with Board of Deputies’ President Jonathan Arkush: nobody could have expressed better my feelings about the need to learn from Europe’s painful history and to apply those lessons to our world today, both in extending compassion to victims of the current refugee crisis and in the constant need to guard against all kinds of prejudice and intolerance. Through education of our younger generation we may hope to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past and leave a better world for our own children.

I was rather nervous about inviting people who are Jewish - or at least highly likely to be Jewish - to a Christian church. I’m not particularly religious myself but it seems to have been well received as appropriate to give thanks in a house of God, there being no synagogue in Harwich of course.

It’s still something of a work in progress due to the schools being preoccupied with SATs and Ofsted reports, but we hope to raise between £20k and £40k for child refugee causes relating to the current crisis and thereby not only teach the next generation about the history of the Kindertransport but also make a positive difference to those less fortunate than ourselves.

I’m not quite sure what will come next but I don’t think this will be the end of it. There is much to be learnt from the story of the Kindertransport."

Peter Hedderly, Harwich Event Organiser

Please click here for some photographs from the event.