“National and Transnational Memories of the Kindertransport” by Amy Williams and Bill Niven
It was 2010 and we were together in Berlin, Thomas Cogdell, George and I, visiting places like the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the Jüdisches Museum.
And then we came upon Frank Meisler’s sculpture, Trains to Life – Trains to Death, a remembrance of the Kindertransport, in the street outside the Friedrichstrasse train station, the place where the children and their parents said their last goodbyes.
Approximately 10,000 Jewish children were saved by the Kindertransport and 1,500,000 perished.
We stared, struggling with our emotions. Thomas suggested that I climb up and stand among the children, the ones who were preparing to board the trains to life.
Instagram and Zoom calls
I met Amy Williams on Instagram as she was completing her Ph.D on the Kindertransport at Nottingham/Trent University.
We exchanged messages and Zoom calls and began a kind of dance… She asked discerning questions and listened as I dug deeper into my story. Amy wondered how my friends interacted with my past and she Zoomed with Thomas.
And when it was time to choose a cover design for Amy’s book, National and Transnational Memories of the Kindertransport, she chose Thomas’ photo!!
Amy and I in a Jewish cemetery, Guldental
Last year, in October 2022, Amy, Thomas and I met in person. Where? In Germany! We were there to start filming my story.
And this this year on October, 27th Amy and I found ourselves on another Zoom call, this time we were meeting with a group of students and their professor, Dr Kelly Gordon, at Concordia University, Austin, Texas.
How did that happen?
John Patrick, Thomas’ son is a freshman at Concordia and when Thomas visited him he noticed a poster, advertising a play that explores the effects of the Kindertransport, on the children, their parents, their rescuers and the next generation.
Thomas met Dr Gordon, the play’s director and talked about my connection to the Kindertransport.
The play will open on November 9, the 85th Anniversary of Kristallnacht, also known as Reichspogromnacht, when synagogues were torched and Jewish businesses destroyed all over Germany and Austria. A night that catalyzed my father to find a way of escape for me…
A university engaging with the past, all of us facing existential questions about the present…..
How do we join the dance?
Note: The title of this blog post is based on a book by Thomas Howard.