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How did children get a place?

Parents could have heard about Kindertransports via various routes. They may have heard about them via word of mouth in the Jewish community. Or they might have seen the adverts in the Jewish press.

Some learned about it from information boards or via schools and institutions. Additionally, adverts for potential foster families were placed in the local press in England, or found via friend or familial connections.

How would parents have known that such a thing as emigration for children existed? This was the first scheme of its nature. What moral dilemmas would they have face?

Bernard Grunberg considers the lonely decision his mother was forced to make.
© National Holocaust Centre and Museum

Application process

Parents or a responsible adult would need to:

  • complete a questionnaire concerning the children’s character and background and enclose a photograph of the child; then
  • send both to the Local Social Worker’s Office who would forward this documentation to the Reichsvertretung der Juden in Berlin along with the child’s health certificate.

The Refugee Children’s Movement in London then reviewed the documentation. If accepted, entry permits would be sent back to Germany and submitted to the police.

 “Kinder” often do not remember much about the application process for the Kindertransport. However, many remember receipt of the acceptance letter.
Steven Mendelssohn certainly found this to be the case. He was only twelve when the news arrived. Listen to him recollecting his family’s receipt of his acceptance letter in March 1939 in Breslau.
© National Holocaust Centre and Museum

Priority cases

Initially, children were awarded a place based on urgency. This was given to orphans, stateless children like the trans-migrants from Eastern Europe, and those whose parents had been arrested. Children in a state of poverty were also prioritised. Additionally, adolescent boys who were a prime target of the Nazis had priority.

Hans is retraining for emigration to Palestine, but leaves on the Kindertransport to England instead. What happened? Why did he get priority over others?
© National Holocaust Centre and Museum