last time Dame Stephanie Shirley, 88, stood on embankment in Harwich, she was a funky five-year old named Vera Buchtal.
The girl had just stepped off the boat that brought her and hundreds of another Jew children to the UK from horror of Nazi Europe. Shirley was back in the port of Essex on A memorial statue of Kindertransport to commemorate the rescue will be unveiled on Thursday of 10,000 unaccompanied children.
Her memories of two-and-a-half A day trip to Harwich was routine, she told the congregation of Veterans of children’s transport, their descendants and local residents. “Lost doll, not lost home; a little boy who was constantly sick; sleep on sheets of corrugated cardboard; labels round our necks.”
“Of course,” she told The Guardian, “since then I how everything could have been different if I had not been put on train. As well as how things are is different because I was put on train; how it gave me stamina and strength.”
first Children’s transport train left Berlin on December 1, 1938 and first the train from Vienna left nine days later. The rescue mission ended with flash of war. It was noted with memorials throughout Europe including Liverpool Street Station in London. But still, children dot of arrival was unmarked.
Harwich Memorial by Ian Walter of five children Cast in bronze, step down ladder on to safe ground. one strides forward optimistic one looking around with curiosity one looks worried and one looking back maybe to home, family and he lost his life. The fifth one does what children do in similar settings: climbing railings.
Walter said: “It was a great responsibility – and a huge privilege – to create this memorial. I tried to imagine a storm of these emotions children must have felt the arrival in a foreign country separated from their parents without speaking language”.
The artist was chosen in part because of earlier part of public artChildren of Kale, which is intended to spark a debate about the treatment of refugees. It was open in Saffron Walden, Suffolk, in 2018 Labor colleague Alf Dubs, Kindertransport employee. veteran who attended for Thursday ceremony.
The Harwich Memorial was paid for for through donations, including amounts from the German government. Miguel Berger, the German ambassador to the UK, told those gathered at the ceremony that he was “greatly honored and honored” to be present and the memorial acted as a reminder of in need be vigilant against in rise of anti-Semitism, prejudice and tyranny.”
Bob Kirk, 97, arrived in Harwich from Germany aged of 13 in May 1939 six months after the Kristallnacht pogrom, when Jews were killed and surrounded up and synagogues destroyed.
“I had very mixed feelings: excitement and fear,” he said. “I was not well prepared – my parents played it down. It was the merit of the British. government who gave permission, but apart from that it was down local communities to organize transport, accommodation, support.
“But it saved my life and gave me the opportunity of a new life and new family”.
Pick parents were deported to Riga, Latvia, and killed. After the war, Kirk married Ann, another child transport inmate, and the couple had two children. children. Both active in Education of the Holocaust.
Shirley was a successful businesswoman, and now one of UK’s biggest philanthropists. She, her sister and her parents moved from Germany to Austria in 1930s after her father lost his job.
in face of Growing Nazi Threat, Shirley mother took heartbreaking decision put your daughters on Children’s train to London.
“That was the train of 1000 children,” she said. “At the station, we were surrounded by crying parents. My mother kept it together but she didn’t really expect to see us again”.
family reunited a few years after the war. “I was very lucky It is mine family survived,” she said. “I wish that today’s refugees were welcomed with the same kindness was shown to us.
“The UK is doing pretty well in regarding Ukrainian refugees, but black people not so popular. I love this country with passion, but when I see how she behaves in short-term little England way I’m disappointed.”
In 2019, Shirley received a check from a German government for €2,500 (£2,150) in restitution – payment available to all survivors of program “Children’s transport”. She donated money to Safe Pass, which helps today’s refugee children find shelter.