From December 1st 1938, through September 1st 1939, nearly 10,000 mostly Jewish children traveled from Nazi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Danzig to England, alone, without their parents. This rescue mission became known as the Kindertransport. In 1990, more than 50 years later, a group of Kindertransport survivors in New York City came together to found the Kindertransport Association (KTA - www.kindertransport.org). This unique volunteer run organization was founded not solely as a Survivor group, but as an intergenerational group with the missions of connecting these child Holocaust survivors and descendants, educating the next generations on the Kindertransports as an important part of Holocaust history, and supporting and advocating for children at risk today, especially refugees and those without parents.
In 2019 KTA president Melissa Hacker, whose mother fled Vienna on a Kindertransport in January 1939, created and organized an 80th year commemorative journey. Over two weeks in the summer of 2019 four Kindertransport Survivors, now in their late 80's and early 90's returned to the countries they fled, accompanied by fourteen members of the second generation. Traveling by train and ferry from Vienna to Berlin, Amsterdam to Hook of Holland, Harwich to London, the travelers traced the Kindertransport journey, visiting memorials, learning from scholars, and conducting family research along the way. The trip received international press attention and led to new connections, insights, and memories for the participants.
Melissa will discuss the trip and show excerpts from 256,000 Miles From Home, a new film she has just finished about this trip. Wendy Henry, who traveled together with her "Kindertransport cousin" Monique, whose mother lived with Wendy's mother in a hostel in London, found family photographs she had never seen before in archives in Berlin, and met in London with a member of the Schlesinger family who created the hostel. Wendy will speak on her experiences on the trip. Dr. Amy Williams, who spoke with the Kindertransport Journey travelers at the Wiener Holocaust Library in London and is writing a book on the Kindertransports for Yale University Press, will present on her new Kindertransport research.
Melissa Hacker is the first member of the Second Generation to serve as President of the Kindertransport Association. Melissa is a filmmaker who made her directing debut with the documentary My Knees Were Jumping; Remembering The Kindertransports, the first film made on the Kindertransports, which was short-listed for Academy Award nomination, seen in film festivals, cinemas, museums, on television, and in universities worldwide. Honors received for Ex Libris; A Life in Bookplates, Melissa’s current work in progress, include a Fulbright Artist-in-Residence award in Vienna, and residencies at Yaddo, VCCA, Playa, Willapa Bay AIR, Saltonstall, Millay, and Digital Arts Studios, Belfast NI, and a 2022 LABA Laboratory for Jewish Culture Fellowship. Melissa consulted on the 2018 exhibit, Rescuing Children on the Brink of War, jointly presented by Yeshiva University Museum and Leo Baeck Institute at the Center for Jewish History in New York, and has written for the catalog and provided material for Without a Home: Kindertransports from Vienna, a 2021 exhibit at the Vienna Jewish Museum. Melissa is also a wandering professor of documentary film, at New York University in New York City and Havana, Cuba, Yangon Film School in Myanmar and Marymount Manhattan College; and the freelance editor of two Academy Award nominated documentary films, Sister Rose's Passion and The Collector of Bedford Street. Melissa serves on the Executive Committee and the Governing Board of the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust and Descendants.
Dr. Amy Williams has recently completed her PhD in History at Nottingham Trent University. Her thesis focused on Memory of the Kindertransport in National and Transnational Perspective. Amy is currently working with Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Yale University Press, and Camden House to produce new books on the history and memory of the Kindertransport. She is a part-time lecturer at Nottingham Trent University and recently appeared on the BBC series Great British Railway Journeys. Amy has a working relationship with the Kindertransport Association and is in New York City for 2023 on a postdoctoral fellowship at the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at the New School.
Wendy Henry, a JGSNY member, is an acupuncturist and longtime member of the KTA. Wendy's mother Ilse Jacobsohn Henry was born 11 May 1927 and went to Theodor Herzl School and Wilsnackerstrasse School in Berlin. In London, she was one of the "Schlesinger 12". Professionally she became an early childhood educator and began working at hostels in Britain with Child Holocaust Survivors before emigrating to the United States.