Event Title

Kindertransport: “Be Loyal to England, Your Host”: British Responses to the Kindertransport and its Effects on Refugee Children

Author/ Authors/ Presenter/ Presenters/ Panelists:

Brittany A. Hopkins, Governors State UniversityFollow

Start Date

4-12-2019 11:15 AM

End Date

4-12-2019 12:15 PM

Abstract

Britain instituted the Kindertransport program after seeing the violence and persecution Jews experienced in Nazi-controlled territories. Relaxing its immigration restrictions, it allowed Jewish minors (Kinder) to temporarily enter the country under the guardianship of refugee organizations and British foster parents. This study examines British popular responses to Jewish refugees’ arrivals and how those responses affected the transport’s functionality and Kinders’ lives. It draws on British newspapers, which served as forums for public concerns over the integration and management of Jewish refugees and on Kinders’ interviews, which serve as testaments of their feelings about their reception and how those responses affected their lives. The study argues that the Kinder experienced mixed responses from the British public. For example, foster families who saw the Kindertransport as a means to benefit their economic or social positions or as a means to convert the children to Christianity supported the program. Fear that supporting the refugees would drain public resources or increase employment competition and anti-Semitism fueled negative responses to the program.

Examining British responses is vital to expanding scholarly literature on the Kindertransport, which has largely focused on the program’s positive aspects. This study seeks to achieve a fuller understanding of British responses’ effects on transport operations and Kinders’ development, to incorporate more perspectives than included in the existing literature, and to explore how local responses affected Jewish refugees’ transitions to living in a new country.

Faculty / Staff Sponsor

Professor Ellen Walsh

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Apr 12th, 11:15 AM Apr 12th, 12:15 PM

Kindertransport: “Be Loyal to England, Your Host”: British Responses to the Kindertransport and its Effects on Refugee Children

Britain instituted the Kindertransport program after seeing the violence and persecution Jews experienced in Nazi-controlled territories. Relaxing its immigration restrictions, it allowed Jewish minors (Kinder) to temporarily enter the country under the guardianship of refugee organizations and British foster parents. This study examines British popular responses to Jewish refugees’ arrivals and how those responses affected the transport’s functionality and Kinders’ lives. It draws on British newspapers, which served as forums for public concerns over the integration and management of Jewish refugees and on Kinders’ interviews, which serve as testaments of their feelings about their reception and how those responses affected their lives. The study argues that the Kinder experienced mixed responses from the British public. For example, foster families who saw the Kindertransport as a means to benefit their economic or social positions or as a means to convert the children to Christianity supported the program. Fear that supporting the refugees would drain public resources or increase employment competition and anti-Semitism fueled negative responses to the program.

Examining British responses is vital to expanding scholarly literature on the Kindertransport, which has largely focused on the program’s positive aspects. This study seeks to achieve a fuller understanding of British responses’ effects on transport operations and Kinders’ development, to incorporate more perspectives than included in the existing literature, and to explore how local responses affected Jewish refugees’ transitions to living in a new country.