Child Nazi refugees reunited with rescuers

By Robyn Rosen, November 12, 2009
Elizabeth Rosenthal at the event

Elizabeth Rosenthal at the event

A meeting at New North London Synagogue in Finchley brought together former child refugees from Nazism and those who rescued Jews during Hitler’s reign.

Marking the 71st anniversary of the Kindertransport to England, the Kindness of Strangers event attracted over 100 people. They included Elizabeth Rosenthal, 82, of Richmond, who was 11 when she arrived here on the Kindertransport.

Born in Berlin, she made the trip despite officially having no place on the train thanks to the help of a group of Quakers who had known her grandfather. She was sent to Oldham, where she lived with the headmistress of the local Church of England primary school.

“I was at a Jewish boarding school and they had prepared us for emigration so I spoke English fluently,” Dr Rosenthal recalled. “I was really looking forward to it and not afraid.

“My mother promised to come in one month but when she didn’t, I was traumatised because I kept thinking about what may have happened. She came the following month though and after the Quakers helped her find work, we were reunited.

“I was treated very well by the family and they loved me very much. When my mother came to take me with her they were very jealous.”

Michael Kennedy told the gathering about his parents, Unitarians Bob and Isabelle, who took German-Jewish boy Werner Von Garnier into their home in Belfast.

“I was so proud of what they did,” Mr Kennedy, 62, said after the meeting. “They enjoyed having him at home and spoke very favourably of him.

“I met him in the 50s and really enjoyed it because I knew he was part of our family’s history. I attempted to find out more about him years later but couldn’t trace him.”

New North London minister Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg said: “The event was very moving.

“We held it because there are so many unacknowledged stories and it is so important that they are told and retold.”

Last updated: 4:52pm, November 12 2009