A synagogue commemorated an act that saved the lives of thousands of Jewish children from one of the worst horrors of modern times. 

Pinner synagogue in Harrow saw almost 300 people pay tribute on April 11, to those who came to Britain on the Kindertransports in 1938-39.

The Yom HaShoah memorial event marked the 80th anniversary since Britain took part in the humanitarian programme that saw approximately 10,000 predominantly, unaccompanied Jewish children removed to the UK from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, following the Kristallnacht anti-Jewish pogroms of November 1938.

The Kindertransports occurred around nine months prior to the outbreak of the Second World War.

Ann and Bob Kirk, gave moving accounts of their own experiences

Ealing Times:

The candle-lighting ceremony at the Harrow synagogue was performed by Kindertransport veterans assisted by children of the third generation, who also gave a series of readings. 

Six candles were lit to remember the six million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis. 

Two principal speakers and Kindertransport veterans, Ann and Bob Kirk, gave moving accounts of their own experiences of anti-Semitic harassment and the courage of their parents in arranging their escape to Britain.

Each described the heart-breaking farewells to their parents who they never saw again and adapting to their new life in Britain.
The couple met in later life and married.

In Ann’s words: “On the whole, most Kindertransport children eventually settled down happily, married and started new families. 

Bob and I have two sons, three wonderful grandchildren, and now a great grandson.”

Ann and Bob said to the attendants: “We need to remember that every person is an individual, with hopes, fears, ambitions, and entitled to dignity and respect.”

Guest speaker, Tania Freiin von Uslar-Gleichen the Chargé d’Affaires at the German Embassy spoke about Germanys’ acknowledgement of its guilt for the Holocaust and its determination that anti-Semitism must be confronted. 

Others present included diplomats from the embassies of Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Romania and Poland.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Harrow also attended.

Event organiser, Gaby Glassman said: “Our commemoration focused on the Kindertransport which enabled 10,000 young lives to be saved. 

“In 1938/39, support was organised; now there is antagonism and bureaucracy, in spite of the media stream that feeds the tragedy into our homes in real time. 

“We give thanks for the humanity then and question its absence now.”

For more information contact Pinner synagogue member, Stephen Collins at spc@woodhaven.me.uk