Kindertransport memorial to be erected in Harwich

By Simon Rothstein 

A memorial will be erected in Harwich in 2022 to mark the first Kindertransport that arrived at the Essex port. 

With several Kindertransport memorials erected throughout Europe – including one at Liverpool Street Station – to commemorate the children’s journey and escape from the Nazis, Essex will finally be added to this illustrious list in September. 

This landmark moment is thanks to the hard work of the Harwich Kindertransport Memorial and Learning Appeal and follows generous donations from private donors, the Harwich town council and Bridges Impact Foundation, as well as a significant contribution from the Association of Jewish Refugees. Fundraising is also continuing.

The Harwich Kindertransport Memorial statue is currently under construction and planned for installation on the Harwich town quay in September. 

It is being designed and put together by sculptor is Ian Wolter. You can see his design and progress in the exclusive images here. 

Sculptor- Ian Wolter

The first Kindertransport children arrived by ferry in Harwich in December 1938. Some were taken to London, and others to holiday camps such as Dovercourt Bay in Essex. The Kindertransport was a British refugee program, set up after Kristallnacht, to help Jewish children escape Nazi Germany and find safety in the UK. 

Bob Kirk, born Rudi Kirchheimer in Hannover, Germany, remembers the events that proved the catalyst for his journey. 

Bob said: “My father was – most unusually – away from home on Kristallnacht. Later I discovered that he had been hiding in his office, on the fourth floor of a commercial building. Did he have a tip-off? I don’t know, but it certainly saved him from being one of the 30,000 Jewish men rounded up and marched to concentration camps. 

“Entirely unaware of the events of the night, I went to school on the morning of 10 November, to be stopped at the gate by a teacher who questioned why I was there. 

“Having told me about the burning of our synagogue and all the vandalism, he told me to go home and not to think of coming back to that school. After that all Jewish children were barred from state schools – that was the end of education and certainly encouraged enrolment on the Kindertransport. 

“I left Hanover on 3 May, aged 13. After a scary border check at Bentheim, the first stop at Oldenzaal in Holland was wonderful, with drinks and food – and smiles – from warm, friendly people. 

“We crossed by ferry from Hook of Holland to Harwich, where we walked along the Harwich quay straight onto a train for Liverpool Street.” 

Mike Levy, the chair of the Harwich Kindertransport Memorial and Learning Appeal, said that the memorial will help cement the town’s historical relevance. 

He added: “This memorial, combined with our town trail, audio bench and new information boards, will ensure that Harwich will at last be recognised for the crucial role it and its townspeople played in the rescue of children destined otherwise for murder in the Holocaust.” 



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