Thursday 1 January 2015

The Quakers’ Role in the Kindertransport

The fictional Fräulein Gottlieb who accompanied the real Renate Edler to England on the Kindertransport was most likely a Quaker. Quakers saw the children on to the train in Germany, accompanied them to Hook of Holland and escorted them to Liverpool Street station. Fräulein Gottlieb in our story would have had to return to Germany. If the people who accompanied the Kindertransport failed to return, the Kindertransport would have been stopped at the German end. 
In London, the Quakers helped to persuade the government to relax the laws about Jewish immigration. Once the children were here, the Quakers also provided families to look after them and set up schools. A delegation of Jewish leaders pleaded with Neville Chamberlain to allow unaccompanied children into Britain. He refused. On 21 November, a joint Quaker and Jewish delegation which included Bertha Bracey, Ben Greene, Norman and Helen Bentwich, Wyndham Deedes and Lord Samuel, successfully lobbied Home Secretary Samuel Hoare, who was from a Quaker family, to allow unaccompanied children to enter Britain provided the Home Office’s only responsibility would be ‘to give the necessary visas and to facilitate their entry into this country’.  
Each child who came on the Kindertransport had to be sponsored to the tune of £50.00 – the equivalent of £3500 today. The Quakers were also instrumental in finding this sponsorship money for many Jewish children.    

How would your family feel about sponsoring a child to the tune of £3500? 
Why do you think the Quakers were motivated to help?

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