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Channel Crossing to Life

The first Kindertransport arrived at Harwich, England on December 2, 1938, bringing 196 children from a Berlin Jewish orphanage burned by the Nazis during the night of November 9. Most of the transports left by train from Vienna, Berlin, Prague and other major cities (children from small towns traveled to meet the transports), crossed the Dutch and Belgian borders, and went on by ship to England. Hundreds of children remained in Belgium and Holland. The transports ended with the outbreak of war in September 1939.

One very last transport left on the freighter Bodegraven from Ymuiden on May 14, 1940 – the day Holland fell – raked by gunfire from German warplanes. The eighty children on deck had been brought by earlier transports to imagined safety in Holland. Altogether, though exact figures are unknown, the Kindertransports saved around 10,000 children, most of them Jewish, from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland. None were accompanied by their parents; a few were babies carried by children.

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