German Parliament president pays tribute to Shoah refugees on visit to Liverpool Street Station memorial

Barbel Bas is 'deeply moved' by ceremony and speaking to those who came to the UK on the Kindertransport


Barbel Bas, president of the German Parliament, the Bundestag, visited the Kindertransport memorial statue in Liverpool Street Station to pay tribute to the close-on 10,000 mostly Jewish children who fled to the UK to escape Nazi persecution.

During a short but poignant ceremony to mark the 85th anniversary of the Kindertransport, Ms Bas laid a memorial stone on the statue and spoke to attendees, who included the wife of the late Sir Erich Reich - the smallest boy depicted in the statue itself. Also present were representatives of the Association of Jewish Refugees the UK’s Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues, Lord Pickles, and Germany’s ambassador to the UK, Miguel Berger.

Ms Bas told the crowd: “We must never lose sight of the past - that is my firm conviction. When we talk about the future, we must be conscious of history.

“That is why it was so important to me, amidst the many current political discussions, to also come here during my visit to London in order to remember the persecution of the Jews by Nazi Germany.” It was also to thank the UK “for having saved more than 10,000 persecuted Jewish children from the prospect of being murdered.

“We remain indebted and immensely grateful to organisations such as the Association of Jewish Refugees and World Jewish Relief for the important contribution they continue to make today. I am deeply moved to stand at the Kindertransport memorial with some of the children who were rescued 85 years ago, to talk with them, and to remember what happened to them.”

She told the JC that she had also met King Charles and her Commons counterpart, Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle, during her visit.

“It was a great honour to meet with the King ahead of his trip to Germany later this month, which will be the first time a British monarch has addressed the Bundestag.”

Ms Bas also spoke about the role of German politicians in combating the growth of antisemitism in Europe and beyond.

“Part of our responsibility as Parliamentarians is to always be thinking about how to keep alive the remembrance of the Holocaust, to celebrate Jewish culture and to make sure the survivors’ stories are told, heard, and never forgotten.

“We must be vigilant to use what happened in the past as a reminder of the future, to make sure the young generation is fully aware of the realities of what happened so that it can never be repeated.”

In September, Germany pledged a further £1 billion in reparations to Shoah survivors.

Kurt Marx, who arrived in the UK on the Kindertransport from Cologne in 1939, said: “It seems incredible that I’m standing here, alongside the president of the Bundestag, 85 years after being forced to flee my home, to seek refuge in Great Britain.

“In a climate of rising Holocaust distortion, it is so important that the first generation stand alongside today’s German Government to remember the atrocities of Nazi genocide.”

In a statement, AJR CEO Michael Newman said the organisation was “immensely grateful” to Ms Bas for including a visit to the Liverpool Street statue in her itinerary. “It is an important symbol of reconciliation and helps strengthen links today between the AJR, the former refugees and Germany.”

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