Richmond Borough Schools HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY PROJECT
Our book is dedicated to the boys who fled Nazi Germany and came to Twickenham in 1939, those who looked after them... and those they had to leave behind.
Foreword by Munira Wilson, MP
Responses & Reflections
Who were the boys of Lebanon Park?
Foreword As the MP for Twickenham I am honoured to have
The humanity and kindness of those who worked
been asked to introduce this important collection
so hard to bring the children here is a shining
of pieces written by young people in the borough.
example to us all of how every day we must try to
It is a series of creative reflections on the most
help others, and it is wonderful to think that right
remarkable of stories that was unearthed by two
here in Twickenham some of those children who
pupils at Hampton School.
were experiencing the darkest of times were given a home.
Josh and Felix discovered that a house in Marble Hill was home to ten young Jewish refugees
The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day in 2021
during World War Two. The Jewish boys had
is “Be the light in the darkness” which is exactly
fled from Nazi Germany and Austria as part of
what 52 Lebanon Park was for these children,
the Kindertransport and lived in a Kinderhostel
and although the regime they were fleeing from
established at 52 Lebanon Park, Twickenham.
shows us the depths humanity can sink to, the Kindertransport and this Kinderhostel shows how
The Kindertransport was the most extraordinary
individuals and communities can ‘be the light’.
rescue of children that took place during the nine months prior to the outbreak of the Second
The pieces in this booklet have come out of a
World War, with the United Kingdom taking in
workshop that was run by Hampton School for
nearly 10,000 from Nazi Germany and other Nazi-
over 100 students from across the borough, and
occupied countries. As a mother of two young
I would urge anyone reading this to widely share
children, I can only imagine how difficult it must
these young people’s writings. It is important
have been for the parents to make the unbearably
that we continue to talk about the Holocaust and
brave decision to send their children away in order
subsequent genocides, so that we can all learn
to get them to safety, knowing that they might
from the past in order to create a better future.
never see them again.
Munira Wilson MP
About eighteen months ago Felix and Josh, from
Lebanon Park. Others have written about the
Hampton School, discovered an obscure reference
impact of reading Tom Palmer’s book.
to something called a ‘kinderhostel’ which existed
There are lots of people who we would like to
in Lebanon Park, a road close to where they lived
thank for their help in this Holocaust Memorial
in Twickenham in the late 1930s and through
Day project. First, we’d also like to thank our MP,
the Second World War. They discovered that the
Munira Wilson, for her powerful words that open
‘kinderhostel’ was home to ten Jewish boys who
this booklet. Similarly, we’d like to thank all the
had been forced to flee Nazism in their home
teachers who worked very hard to make it possible
countries just before the Second World War. Josh
for their students to attend the session with Tom
and Felix researched further and were able to
Palmer and for everyone’s responses to appear in
discover more about the boys who
this booklet during such trying times.
came to Twickenham, were honoured
Importantly, we’d also like to thank
to find many of the relatives of those
the families of the boys who came to
boys... and were privileged to find one of
Twickenham in 1939. They have been
those boys still alive and well, living in
wonderfully supportive with their time
and precious images and memories of
In December last year young people
the boys in later life. Lastly, we’d like
from eight secondary schools around
to extend a huge thank you and ‘well
the London Borough of Richmond met online with
done’ to all the students who gave up
the author Tom Palmer. The students had already
their spare time to write such moving responses
read Tom’s book, ‘After The War’, about a group of
and reflections. They are all a hugely fitting way
boys who had survived the Holocaust and came
to remember the boys who lived in the Lebanon
to Britain in 1945. For the next hour, the students
Park ‘kinderhostel’ and their families who were
asked Tom how he approached writing a story
based on the truth of the most troubling and dark
Thank you for reading our booklet. We hope that
period of human history.
you find it worthwhile. In a difficult time of rising
What follows is the students’ creative responses
Holocaust denial and antisemitism we think it
to the true story of the boys who fled from Nazism
is important for everyone to mark Holocaust
and lived in our borough. Some of the students
Memorial Day and we hope that you think this is a
have also written reflections on why it is important
meaningful way of doing so.
for us all to learn about the story of the boys of
By Luke Lawrence Turing House School
FRANZ’S JOURNEY OF BELONGING All Franz had ever wanted was to belong. To belong in a place where he is truly accepted for who he is. Where Franz has no limits and people like Josef Goebbels can not discriminate against people like him. In the town of Beuthen, Germany, Franz stared in alarm and disbelief as the malevolent flames enveloped the synagogue. He had been made to stand there for hours on end by the Nazis. The Nazis did not like Franz’s kind of people. Even the heat from the flames was not enough to thaw the numbness in his fingers and in his heart. Franz needed a new life. A life far, far away from antisemitism and persecution. Within a few weeks, Franz found himself on a train station platform, with his siblings, saying goodbye to their parents. As he left the warm and safe hug from Kurt and Betty Reichmann, Franz felt the cold air of alienation make him shiver. The chill followed them all the way to England and intensified as he and his siblings were forced to go their separate ways. Franz boarded a train heading towards his new home: Number 52, Lebanon Park Road, Twickenham. As he arrived outside the door, he marvelled at the grand, red-brick house that was replicated all along the street. Franz’s sweaty palms struggled to keep hold of his bags as he stepped into the house. That first night, Franz laid in an unfamiliar bed with butterflies in his stomach and his heart racing, thinking over and over if he would fit in at Lebanon Park Road, if the people would like him or even speak his language. Morning came and he woke to a familiar sound. A sound he never thought he would hear again: German. At breakfast, he got to talking with some of the other boys and Franz could tell from the look in their eyes that they had gone through what he had gone through. Empathy filled the room and entered their hearts. The butterflies flew out of Franz’s stomach and at that moment, he felt like he could belong at Lebanon Park Road. Even though the breakfast and people were unfamiliar, they all soon became a family: Gunter, Rolf, Freddy and all the others. There was also a young lady looking after them, Gitte, who reminded Franz of his mum. By 1941, Franz had started senior school at Orleans Park, just round the corner from where he lived. He was also forced to change his name to Frank as he was told that Franz sounded too German. Skimming stones in the River Thames after walking home from school one day with Rolf and Gunter, he realised how much his life had changed from his time in Beuthen. Here, he was safe from antisemitism and persecution. He had friends he could trust. But most of all, Franz finally belonged.
By Jannat Haidrani Grey Court School
A PERSONAL REFLECTION Many boys were forced to flee from Nazism and came to Twickenham just before the Second World War. Most of the boys came without their parents because their parents wanted them to stay safe and away from the violence toward the Jewish people in Germany and save their childâ€™s lives. Firstly, I think it is important for people in our borough to know about the story of the boys who came to Twickenham because in order to learn, we need to understand the difficult times that people went through and why they came to our area. Also, we need to help people and make sure nothing bad like this happens again. By telling their story, people can really begin to understand what it really felt like to the boys and to not take everything for granted. It will also make the people in our borough know that we made a difference in some peopleâ€™s lives and we should do it again and again to make sure that everyone knows that there are good people in this world and to give some hope to everyone. Secondly, by emotionally explaining every little detail and what they were feeling when they were coming here and what they felt about their parents sacrificing themselves for their childâ€™s good life, people can really begin to understand the cruelty of the Nazis and how they affected so many people's lives and how we can prevent people like the Nazis to hurt people in the future. This will also teach them valuable lessons and how to treat people because you never really know what people are going through. Furthermore, by teaching the different places the boys stayed and explored, we can really make ourselves useful in the world and have heart for other people. It can help people realise the suffering the things that young people and everyone went through just before and during the war. This will then make people acknowledge how to change the world for the good in the future. This will then help them become a better person. As well as that, this will demonstrates how prejudice, discrimination and dehumanization in the world could be so dangerous and how this can perhaps change the future into something we do not want. In addition, it highlights that some aspects of human behaviour and concepts can affect many societies, many people and the whole world. In conclusion, it is very important for not just the people in our borough to know about the boys that were forced to flee to Twickenham, but the whole world should know about this. We need to tell the people of this world how it is so important to make a good difference in this world and how it can change a whole person completely.
By Lucy Gregg Teddington School
MEMORIES... A cacophony of sound, blazing fires intwining with my house. Windows are smashed. Ahhh, I'm awake. “Mate. Mate, it’s just a dream.” I turned around to look through my teared-up eyes to see George. “uh, yeah I know just one of those bad thoughts.” deep down I knew that Kristallnacht was just a faint nightmare, but the thought would never heal. Once again, I felt the darkness expand and then consumed in my thoughts. As I shut my eyes, I could feel 7 years pass. I could now see myself, 12 years old, at a train station. It all started in 1938 when I was sent away. It felt like the train had clenched my last clear memory of my parents and hidden it from me all those years and yet now as I sat shaken with excitement and fear and so much more, I felt like all I had to do was inhale and those memories would be mine. I let the light sprawl across my eyes as they opened. Finally, we were going home. Three months ago, the bells of freedom rejoiced in our ears. The war had ended. For the first few months I just wanted to end it. Every thought, every memory, every bad word anyone had ever said to me could be gone if I let it all go. Yet I still had hope. Final embers of freedom clung on to me. The thought of my own life with my own money and my own home. The Nazis had left many of us grief stricken they had told us we were dirt, but they would never take away my heart. My parents had coaxed me into thinking it was all a dream and that I would soon wake up in the clasp of jolly old England. For most of the train ride to England I let myself be strung away by my dreams. Year in, year out 52 Lebanon Park became my home, the fellow boys became my family. Each of us would often bewiled each other, but it always bit at me that my family would soon be gone. Days soon became weeks and weeks soon became months, until 7 years of my life had taken me, here. At the age of 19. “Mate, mate! We’re here.” Involuntarily I felt tears dance with memories down my cheeks. It was as though a shot of adrenalin had attacked the boys. Suddenly no noise could be heard, and no noise could be made. A frail man starved and skeletal became my eyesight. At once I felt an urge of happiness help me swim through my tears everything was spinning except on thing. Dad...
By Angelina Zadora Waldegrave School
A PERSONAL REFLECTION Although I have lived in Richmond for all of my life, I never knew about the boys who lived at number 52 in Lebanon Park (in my borough) until I wanted to find out more about the Holocaust. I was shocked reading information about some of the boys who lived there and were harmed from all of the negativity thrown towards them for being Jewish. The Nazis tried to make Jews look unworthy: by stamping Js on travel documents, by not allowing them to go to the swimming pool, by confiscating their houses and everything that the families had worked so hard for. In addition, all this made me realise something important: Fulfil your purpose in life. Acts of kindness stick with us eternally. By recognising Margot Brauer’s help with taking care of the boys I also see the dedication and sacrifices that she paused on her own life for them. She was only nineteen at the time and didn't even know the boys yet was willing to make sure that they would grow up in a safe environment. Family is not always blood, it is the people who accept and love you unconditionally. So, in conclusion, to have more people in our borough knowing of the boys who came to Twickenham would show respect to all the obligations that others made for us to live in a time with human rights. It will help us strive as a community of kind and helpful people like Margot Brauer’s and many others. It will make us value the importance of family and a safe place to call home. It makes me feel grateful for every single moment in my life as in the words of Anne Frank “regret is stronger than gratitude” and life is simply too short to live by regret. .
By Belle Oâ€™Brien Teddington School
THE BOY AND THE RED DOOR The boat crossing was rocky, the wind picking up the tips of the foaming waves and swirling the salty droplets around the boy's head. He recognised another boy from his old school who was looking green. He did not talk to him; he was too engulfed by his own memories and trying not to be sick was taking up his remaining concentration. The boy clutched his small suitcase tightly in his fist, his most precious possessions safely locked away inside. He put his hand in his pocket and clasped the yellow thread that he had unpicked from his jacket. He looked at it for a minute and let it whip away from him in the breeze. The boat reached the docks and men in uniform gestured for them to go single file down the gangplank. His last step, a half stumbling hop, firmly planted his feet onto English soil. He looked around and saw a kindly woman pointing him towards the train station where he joined the ranks of those waiting. The train came powering into the platform, and once it stopped, he jostled his way onto it, desperate to grab a window seat. The boy sighs heavily as he rests his weary head against the cool, glass window of the steam train, contemplating the final leg of his long and difficult journey. The carriage he found himself in was stuffy and smelt of cigar smoke. He wanted to open the window to escape the suffocating smell, but it was too cold for that. The elegantly tailored gentleman opposite paid him no mind. He sat reading his newspaper, outwardly oblivious to the chaos and commotion all around him. The boy stared out the window and saw a blur of trees and fields racing past. Over and over again, the scenery always different but somehow never changing, until the train came to a stop. Twickenham... his new home and a fresh start. The kind woman on the platform gestured for him and the other boys to get off the train. She led the way out of the station and headed off down the road. They walked for about half an hour and as the boyâ€™s feet were starting to drag, he glanced up. The kind woman walked up a flight of shallow stone steps. The boy glanced past her and saw there was a big red door at the top. It had a bright, shiny, brass lionhead knocker and another boy rushed up from behind him and announced their arrival with a resounding knock. They waited a moment and then it creaked open slowly. Crossing the threshold, the boy stepped into his new life. .
By Lana Duric Hampton High
A PERSONAL REFLECTION The story of the boys who came to Twickenham showcases the tragedy that resulted in the Holocaust. This event was led by Adolf Hitler. He was sure (wrongly) that Jews were at fault to Germanys loss in the First World War and he outlined his basic ideas of antisemitic and anti-communist movement he would lead in his book, Mein Kampf. Jews and others were rounded up in every region Hitler conquered and thrown into concentration camps. Hitler saw this as a way to make Germany great again, promising the German people with nationalistic and militaristic pride, you could say he was successful as Germany and the Nazis were now feared by many countries. November 1938 saw worse; many Jews were seen to be tortured and killed this was called â€˜Kristallnachtâ€™ [crystal night] after the broken glass resulted from attacks on homes and places of worship. Following this event, the British government agreed for some Jewish children under the age of 17 through means of the Kindertransport. Ten of these children were found to have come to our borough, went to school in Twickenham, [Orleans Park] which gives Richmond Borough a local connection to those who were impacted by what would become the Holocaust. It's important for the people in our borough to know of these events as it continues the story and ensures the remembrance of the Holocaust is forever accounted for and isn't forgotten, that the survivors and victims' aren't forgotten and the pain they went through because the past cannot be changed.
By Elliot Bird Hampton School
The travel over was scary, time passed slowly as I wondered and worried. How would my new life be? How will the locals be to me? Will they be kind and understanding? I hope so. I hope I can play lots of games, have lots of food and make lots of friends. To me this new place I am going to sounds like it will be great. The food will be brilliant, the people will be kind and the weather and beds will be lovely. At least that’s what I hope. To be honest as long as it is an improvement on the last place I stayed in then I don’t really mind. All I can do now is sit think and hope, hope that my new life will be full of opportunities to make friends, play, learn and relax. I am so nervous to meet the people I am going to stay with but this isn’t a bad nervous or a fearful nervous it is a happy and joyful nervous as there are so many great new people I could meet. Hopefully I will never have to experience anything like I did ever again, at least it’s over now. I wonder how my friends are feeling - are they as nervous and scared as me? I hope not. I hope we get to stay together in the new place we are going as that would make it a lot more comfortable as I have known them for a while now. All I can do now is wait and hope for the best.
By Lina Rahman Twickenham School
ACROSTIC POEM ABOUT THE WAR Everywhere I look citizens screaming Very unhappy people being taken away Adults weeping to their children Countries torn apart Upon the war men go to fight And women stay do their jobs Talking of the days of freedom for all Enemies fighting whilst innocent people are dying
By Grace Caulfield St Richard Reynolds Catholic College
In Tom Palmer's new book â€˜After the Warâ€™, published in 2020, the author tells the story of three boys: Yossi, Leo and Mordecai who are trying to put the Second World War behind them and start a new life in the English Lake District. The book tells the journey of a young 15 year old boy, Yossi, who is trying to find his own path and move forward with his life, but with his mind still filled with nightmares of the Nazi concentration camps, that may hold him back from experiencing the freedom given to him in England. Will he choose to move on without his father or will he wait for him, hoping that one day he will return. I believe that this book was an incredibly written tribute to all of the men and women that helped bring safety back to the world. After being so lucky to speak to the author, I have got to understand how much effort Tom put in to making sure that everything he wrote was all truthful and he wasnâ€™t writing anything that didn't happen. I think this book demonstrates just how hard it was, especially for Jewish children, to find peace and comfort in the world around them which is why I think we should always remember the Holocaust as it is the least we could do to say thank you to the generation that risked their life and freedom for us. In my opinion, the Holocaust Memorial Day is our way of showing respect and our gratitude to those people who had to live through such devastating times, to those people who had to grow up without a family because their families had had their lives taken away from them in battle and those standing up for justice. I think that this book really draws the reader's attention to how much everyone sacrificed during the war and how we should be eternally grateful for ending such dangerous and sorrowful times and ensuring that history never repeats itself again. .
By Brooke Black Teddington School
A SOUND OF HOPE It felt like it all started in 1936, my father had left us to join an orchestra in Palestine and I haven’t seen him since. I prayed every night that he would come back until two years later when Kristallnacht happened. ‘The night of broken glass’. I remember waking up in the middle of the night to screaming people and burning buildings. A few days later I walked into the living room and found my mum packing a suitcase, and next thing I knew we were on the train. While we were on the train, I fell asleep but when I woke up my mother was gone. At that time, I wanted everything to end, I wanted to jump off the train so I wouldn’t be able to feel anything anymore. I’ve lost everything, including my hope to a better future. When I arrived in London, I was taken to live with other children at 52 Lebanon Park in Twickenham. Most of them were in the same position as me, no parents, not being able to speak English and wanting to go home. Every night when I lay in bed, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the innocent people that died and suffered, the children being sent away from their parents who never returned. Days went by and I started to settle in. It wasn’t easy but it was bearable. My housemates became my close friends and life carried on. Days turned into months and months turned into years. On the 8th May I walked down to the Thames and stared at the glistening water. It was around five am and there wasn’t a single sound, until I heard it. The soft singing of a violin. It was the same melody my father used to play to me when I was younger. I listened carefully. The notes vibrated through my head and memories of the happiest moments with my family came rushing through. Memories of my mum and dad sitting peacefully together with the biggest smiles on their faces. A shiver passed through my body and I came back to reality, although I still felt the warm, comforting feeling in my chest. That melody awoke something that I thought I had lost forever. Hope. I have never allowed myself to think of the future, but something changed. I felt like the sound of the violin was a message from my parents telling me not to be afraid anymore, to live my life and not to give up. I was a different person when I got back to the house. A hopeful one, believing that miracles will happen, it just takes time. Later that afternoon the Victory was declared.
By Oliwia Ziehlke St Richard Reynolds Catholic College
Tom Palmer's new book “After The War” gives us an insight on what life was like for children after surviving world war 2. The book flashes back multiple times to show the reader many situations that our main character, Yossi has been through. We learn about the many horrendous things that the Nazis did and how it impacted these young people. There was one specific scene that struck me the most in this book was the first breakfast at the Calgarth estate where we see the children eating desperately and quickly as if the food was going to be taken away. This scene really showed me how scarred these children were from war and is exactly why we need to remember the holocaust. Just as Edmund Burke said “those who don't know history are destined to repeat it” it is vital that we remember all those people who enabled us to have the life we have now and be thankful that we will never have to go through what they did.
By Gaga Mgaloblishvili Grey Court School
â€˜After The Warâ€™ is a book written by Tom Palmer about Holocaust survivors who as kids lived in England. They started new lives and had to abandon everything at home. The story teaches us that inside the power resides to keep on going forward and that even when all hope seems lost there is hope still. The message told by the story is conveying a positive message yet in a respectful way to those who endured it. Because of this more people should embrace and read this amazing book. The strong message educates young people about the Holocaust and the survivors. After reading the book I believe many others will relate to this: you gain a new appreciation for life and respect to the smallest thing which in this year where many are struggling is a good mindset and message. This book provides because we arenâ€™t just learning about the boys who started new lives in England but their journey and sacrifices throughout and the struggles of everyday life. Thank you Tom Palmer for such an amazing experience .
By Casper Williams Turing House School
A PERSONAL REFLECTION Learning about the atrocities which occurred during the Second World War is absolutely important. In order to have a deeper understanding on these events, it’s helpful to know if anyone close to you, or lived in your area, was affected by these events. One example of which is the ten boys who lived in Twickenham. These were a group of boys who fled from Germany and Austria to avoid Nazi aggression. Personally, learning about their experiences gave me a great historical understanding, previously I had not known about Kristallnacht – Night of Crystal – and not only this, but it allowed me to understand what it was like to experience these events as a child. I have mostly heard stories of people who were adults when they experienced this, however to hear it from the experience of a child is a whole other story. It allows me to learn about the confusion and horror that these children felt. To live through this, to having to experience leaving your home and fleeing to a place unknown to you is horrific. I have also been given a form of understanding regarding how they travelled to England, and their journey. Some of these children travelled to other countries first, then to England. However, they were all part of the Kindertransport, which was how they came to England. In conclusion, learning these children gives us a historical and personal understanding on what it was like to live through these events.
By Charlotte Taylor Waldegrave School
A PERSONAL REFLECTION Learning about the boys who came to Twickenham was fascinating but also a story I had personally never heard of before. This prompted me to ask my family if they knew about the boys and I was shocked when they said they didn’t know anything about them. I then questioned, if my family didn’t know about the boys who came to Twickenham, how many other people living in the borough of Richmond are unaware of the boys? On reflection of this, it has made me think just how important it is to ensure residents know about the boys otherwise an important and interesting part of local history could be lost and therefore a part of people’s lives, and the horror they went through during the Holocaust will possibly be erased. Firstly, while I understand it is important for the people of Richmond to hear the story of the Twickenham boys, I believe everyone should have access to this interesting part of history. Due to the likelihood most people probably haven’t heard of it before, this may encourage readers to take more of an interest and share the historical story to others which would hopefully put Twickenham on the map. And secondly, I feel it would be disrespectful not to share this now known part of The Holocaust history and the hardships and sacrifices people went through. Hopefully it will give people a greater understanding of the lengths and distances people went to, to flee the horror of what really happened and how the people of Richmond were able to help.
By Dianora Teddington School
A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL As I sat in that rickety carriage, many jumbled thoughts fleeted through my mind. It was over, really over. But that didn’t make it forgettable. I turned to the others around me, they each wore a strange expression as if their lips were stretched, what was that called again.... a smile. But how could they be sure that the happiness they thought they felt was real. We’d been lied to for all those years, what made this now true? Was I supposed to feel happy now? Was I meant to forget everything, all I'd lost, and continue? Was that how life worked? I couldn’t. How could I feel happy again after misery had been all I felt for six whole years? It was over but nothing was different. Beside me, a young girl sat beside her mother. Youth flickered in her eyes, she must’ve been only 4 or 5 years old. She must have been born in the camps; she’d survived. A sudden gut-wrenching pain dragged my gaze away from her. She’s survived and she had her mother. She had a family, love. A jealousy stirred within me making me feel sick. My head was pounding as tears suddenly streamed down my face. I felt a desperation within me, a longing for another life. I wanted it all to end, to just stop. I had nothing, all was gone, my family, my love, my hope for a better future, for peace. Only pain had had the courage to stay. What if I did do it? Just stop everything. It couldn’t be worse than living. Inside me it was as if a tsunami of despair had flooded all my feelings, dowsing the flicker of hope I had felt when the news has spread that the cause of our pain was supposedly gone. I stared out the window and suddenly I could see a spot in the distance coming ever closer at lightning speed. This was it, me, a Jewish boy not knowing how to speak English, my future. I turned back to the girl, looking into her soft, childish eyes. Suddenly, the girl smiled and the warmth she sent through me shocked me like an electric shock. With that action, the girl had given me a doubt in my belief that life couldn’t be good again. The carriage slowly drew to a halt, the doors opened. The world was revealed, and a breath exhaled within me. I was now looking through a new pair of eyes, ones glazed over with hope; a feeling I had vowed to never feel again after all I had lost and all that others had lost. But I realised that my loved ones wouldn’t want that, they would want me to live the life they couldn’t; to live it for them. It was now over, forever. A feeling I had longed to have for so long suddenly flickered within me, I had thought it to be extinguished yet a tiny reminiscent of the flamed still burned, it was still there, growing. I felt it within me, warming my insides: peace. Suddenly my name rung through the air. I saw a young woman looking around, for me? Slowly I raised my hand and her eyes locked with mine. I felt a tugging sensation in my heart as I looked at her kind features, she smiled at me; I could see it then and I hope to see it forever: the light at the end of the tunnel...
By Eleanor Lyon Waldegrave School
MOMENTS IN TIME Told from the point of view of Margot Brauer. The clock reads 11:27 am and it has done for the past 50 minutes or so. Clearly, it needs rewinding, but I keep checking it every few seconds just in case. It makes me nervous, the way it sits there, motionless, and I will it to move. To pick itself up and continue with its life like this standstill never happened. But it remains still. I sit on the patio in a sunlounger I suspect to be older than myself, judging how it screams every time I so much as shift in my seat. The boys are spread across the lawn, chatting, playing, reading. They seem content, but they’ve built their barriers well. I know the uncertainty, the fear they must be feeling. I push the memories fighting at the gate of my mind to one side, and tilt my head back, into the sun. I’m running. There are flames and broken glass, shining like a crystal tavern. A heavy oppression hangs in the air. And there are people, so many people. Cries and screams pierce my ears, hurting more than the cuts that decorate my feet. My temples are throbbing reminding me my heart is still pumping. I am still alive. I keep tearing my way through, pushing people aside. I’m looking for someone, though I don't know who. I can’t remember their name, so I can’t scream for them. The flames are hot on my face and licking at my heels, and my throat is like sandpaper. It’s a fiery cage of sweat and blood and soot and fear and it feels like the world is ending. And then I see him. Relief. I make a final lunge to escape the maze of people, but a rope has wrapped itself around my legs and it trips me. Panic. Hysterical noises escape my mouth and I turn violently just in time to see his terrified face disappear behind a wall of flames. Silence. I jolt awake, breathing heavily and gripping the arms of the sunlounger. My breath comes in sharp pants and I feel delirious. The garden suddenly seems surreal, the sun is too bright, like the fluorescent lights in an interrogation room. I turn my attention back onto the garden and continue the deep breaths. In 1...2...3...4, and out... I watch the boys playing, oblivious and content. It’s not the first time I’ve had this dream, and it probably won’t be the last. But it’s the last time I’m going to ignore it and try and bury it at the back of my mind, because if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that that never works. I couldn’t save my little brother, but I can save these boys. I can nurture them, care for them, be the mother figure they’ve lost and give them a chance for a better life. No matter how small that chance is, I’ll take it. For me, for them. For the scars that we carry and the trauma we host. For all the people whose lives got cut short. I look back around at the clock. It hasn’t moved. But this time, it doesn’t scare me quite so much.
By Florence Owen Waldegrave School
SAFE My stomach did another loop as I stared up at the house. My palms are sweating and I turn around to scan the rest of us, looking for a possible friend. Someone tapped on my shoulder and I flinched, my heart beating fast. “Gunter?” A boy around my age was standing in front of me. He was skinny, so skinny you could see his ribs. That wasn’t surprising though. He had big brown eyes and dark brown hair, styled aloof. I recognised him. I looked at his nametag, Rolf. They would change that, I thought. “My name is Rolf.” The boy said. I stared at him, wondering what his story was. “We were on the ship together. The one from Holland.” “Right,” I say, nodding slowly. “Did you know we go to school next week!” He sounded excited. He looked excited. But I knew deep down that he was just trying to cover up the tears. Just like the rest of us. Before I could answer, our stares turned to a lady who came out from the door of the house and started walking down the path. We all stepped back a little; looking for signs she was bad. But we couldn’t see any. There weren’t any. And that shocked us. “Boys! I’m so glad you’re here. Come in! Come in! It’s freezing out here!” The woman said with a chuckle. Rolf and I exchanged glances, wondering whether we should follow her. The lady in front sighed, tilting her head to the right. “You boys are safe now. Trust me, please.” She said. We weren’t sure. “Ma’am,” We turned around to where a small boy was, nervously twiddling his fingers, “Ma’am,” He repeated, “Where are we?” And then he flinched back, squeezing his eyes shut and dreading for the worst. The lady started walking towards him and our stomachs dropped, preparing ourselves for what was to come. But it didn’t. Instead, the woman crouched down to the scared little boy and hugged him. He didn’t know what to do. So, he put his arms around her and closed his eyes whilst tears strolled down his cheeks.
By Amelia Sinclair Grey Court School
“After the War” is a story that follows the journey of Polish, Jewish teenagers who were brought to the safety of the Lake District after the end of WW2 (1945). Mordecai, Yossi and Leo arrive on Calgarth estate traumatized and constantly (unnecessarily) alert in fear of this being another trap from the Nazis. As, in turn, the boys begin to gain strength, confidence and trust they must decide what to do next with their lives. Yossi, the main character, hopes that the Red Cross will be successful in the search of his father but Mordacai and Leo have other plans. Mordacai is heavily religious and wishes to move to Leeds in order to be close to the Jewish community. Leo, however, still doesn’t feel as if they will be safe there and aspires to live in Palestine. I really enjoyed reading this book, this tale of friendship and altruism is truly moving and - in current times - allows/triggers reflection of how lucky we really are. Although parts of them were surreal and slightly unnerving, I found the flashbacks Yossi had of the war very interesting. I found that they really have me an insight to how tough the war was on all people (especially Jews). Tom Palmer doesn't avoid the harsh realities, nor does he glorify them or play them down, enough to really make an impression on the reader. I really appreciated how the characters built up throughout the book and I really enjoyed their enjoyment in the little things: a bicycle, a full meal and a bed with its own working light. Some parts of the book were very emotional and led to me imagining going through something like that and in all honesty - I do not think that I could. This really allowed me to cherish and recognise what these people sacrificed for our future. I do not think that I can even begin to imagine the trauma and hardships these boys had to suffer through, but thanks to Tom Palmer I am a little more educated on the lives of these people who suffered more in one day then I will in my entire life...
By Francesca Burgio Waldegrave School
A PERSONAL REFLECTION It is really important for people in our Borough to be aware of the Kinderhostel, at 52 Lebanon Park. This represented a place of safety for Jewish children, who had faced terrible adversity under Nazi rule, as a result of their religion. The Kinderhostel provided the young boys with a secure and supportive environment, given many had lost their families, friends and belongings. The boys were able to form friendships with each other and Margot provided pastoral support during their time there. It was also a place of safety and comfort, enabling them to thrive and continue their education at local schools. It signifies the importance of community spirit and stability. The British government recognised the dangers of the Nazi’s persecution of their Jewish community, and created a place of safety for the children. The children were then able to escape the terror of either being imprisoned or possible death. Our Borough should be very proud and embrace the importance of this story, as it is very relevant to today’s society and the 21st Century. We know that all of the boys who were in the house were very appreciative of the warmth they experienced, during their time in Lebanon Park. We know this through Hampton School’s correspondence with the one of the boys and other boys’ families, who stayed there. By saving their lives, the boys were able to have their own families and lives, for example Gunter Ruf lives close to his grandson today. They were also able to remain in a place of safety until they were young adults. This story demonstrates the importance of compassion; helping people in need, and community spirit. Whilst fortunately there isn’t a war in Europe currently, there is an invisible war in relation to the Covid pandemic. Community support and helping neighbours during such hard times should be priority and is fundamental to helping individual’s wellbeing.
By Isabella Mason Waldegrave School
I couldn’t sleep tonight, I kept thinking about my family. They sent me away here, and I don’t know what will become of them. I really miss them and I hope that I can see them soon. Just before I left my father was taken to a concentration camp, I hope he is alright. I hope he is alive and I get to see him at least one more time. I remember when he was taken away, he made us hide at the back of the house and stay silent. He had no choice but to follow them. Not long after that day my mother decided that Germany wasn’t safe enough for me, so she packed my bag and sent me on a train to Holland. After I got off the train I had to take a boat to England, I was so scared on the journey and I felt so alone, but I remembered that my sister told me to be brave and I knew that I couldn’t let her down. When I arrived in England I could see many children just like me, they had run from the Nazis and most were alone and frightened, just as I was. We got sent to a massive hall and a lady stood on the platform and started speaking to us. I didn’t understand what she was saying, so I just stood there and waited. Not long after she started calling out names, the children were sent to an adult who had that name and were then taken away. As I waited, the crowded hall slowly started emptying. I stayed put in my spot against the back wall though, I stayed quiet and observed everyone around me. “Gunter Ruf!” the lady shouted. “Gunter Ruf!” I slowly and cautiously stepped forward and walked in the direction I was pointed in. There stood a man named Mr Ruben. He had a kind face, and as I walked up to him he held his hand out for me to hold. I grabbed onto it and noticed that there were two other boys there as well. He took us to his car, and the three of us sat in the back whilst he drove us to a house. I found out that the boys were called Emil and Freddy, they told me that Mr Ruben had sponsored us to come to Britain, and that we should be thankful to him as he saved our lives. Not long after we arrived at No. 52 in a town named Twickenham. The house was beautiful, but I missed my home in Germany and longed for my family to come here, to be safe from this war. Why didn’t they come with me? I lay on the bed and cried.
By Jack Shephard Hampton School
Gunter and his family were sleeping peacefully when Gunter’s mother heard sounds of smashing and shouting coming from the street. She looked out of the window and saw clouds of smoke and blazing flames coming from the area in which their towns synagogue was held. Moments after there was a loud bang at the door. She frantically woke up her family and Gunter’s father went to answer. Gunter saw three tall men in police uniforms standing at the door. They were talking very aggressively towards his father and Gunter felt scared. Gunter and his family were rounded up and forced out of their home. Gunter saw that windows and belongings of Jewish households on their street were being smashed to pieces. He turned to his father and asked what was happening, but his father turned and told him to keep his head down and stay quiet. Gunter didn’t like it when his father became serious it always meant bad news. They were marched to the synagogue and were forced to watch it burn down. After the flame went out, they were sent back to their homes. As soon as the door was shut Gunter went to bed. He could hear his mother crying in the next room. The next morning Gunter woke up to find his mother packing a bag for him with all his clothes in. Gunter asked his mother what was happening, and she said, ‘it’s not safe for you children here, so you are going to Britain.’ “You’re coming as well, right?” Gunter asked. “Me and you father are going to stay but we will see you in the future.” she said “What... Come with us! Don’t make us go without you.” Gunter said with tears in his eyes “I have to is for you own safety.” Gunter's mother insisted Gunter arrived at the station in Dortmund. With his sister and two brothers. His mother took him over to the man by the train without his family and gave the man Gunter's passport. The man stamped the passport with the letter J and let him on the train. Gunter gave his mother a hug and was pushed onto the train. Gunter didn’t know where he was going and couldn’t find his brothers and sister however hard he looked. Finally, he gave up and went to sit in one of the cabins with other children in them. “Where are we going?” Gunter asked to one of the less frightened looking children She replied with one word “Holland.” Gunter had never been to Holland before he didn’t know what it was like. Would men hit him and his family there? Would he be allowed to swim? Gunter didn’t know how to feel. He arrived at the station in Holland and was immediately put in a car. He could see the sea and a port. The car stopped by a big ship. The children were beckoned off the car and taken to dock and were told to proceed up the gang way onto the ship. He was on his way to England, but he didn’t know that yet.
By Juhi Dey Waldegrave School
A PERSONAL REFLECTION It is important for people in our Borough to learn about the boys who came here on the Kindertransport because it not only helps people with bad times, it simultaneously educates them. The boys have been through many dark times, and yet still learn to love without their families. Another reason why it is essential to learn about the boys who came here is that it shows that there is always hope. This is displayed when a kind lady took in nine children which demonstrated immense goodwill. These children have gone through so much under the Nazis that even a lady helping them out with the slightest things can help them strive. This illustrates that there is always a light at the end of a dark tunnel. Lastly, the boys learned how to love, even through harsh conditions of their childhoods. In modern society, men and boys are expected to cover up their emotions or reveal their emotions too much because they would seem â€˜girlyâ€™. During the 1930s in Germany and Austria life was very difficult for Jewish kids and adults. The boys had learned how to love without a family when they came to Twickenham. Growing up without a family to teach and support you can be hard, and some people can also look at life in a pessimistic way. However, these children communicated that there is a way through every problem and they just have to find it, no matter how many dead ends there are. They show that children need to understand that there is no harm in loving, whether it is a family member or a friend. In conclusion, I think that this book is very important for people in our Borough to know about this story of the boys who came to Twickenham, as it is a good way of teaching young girls and boys to be who they are, express their feelings, helping making them understand that tough times do get better and helping them reach their goals. This is a very effective way in which children will know that they are not the only children facing problems like that, and that achieving goals and feeling happy is possible even in the worst of times.
By Kaiden Greening Turing House School
I was scared, worried, alone. Tightly, I clung onto my bag – it was the only thing left that was mine. They have stolen our homes, our synagogues, and now our families. Outside the window, waves crashed violently against the boat, rocking everyone on it from side to side, whilst the sound of crying children suffocated the air. The sea was unfamiliar like everything else around me. Where are we going? What will it be like? But one question leaves an agonizing feeling in the pit of my stomach. Will I ever see my parents again? Kristallnacht: 9th November 1938 Shattered glass coated the concrete streets, whilst billows of smoke engulfed the buildings. The synagogue, once filled with hope and happiness, was now stained with fire. I looked at my parents. The reflection of the fire lit up their eyes, but was masked by the tears that filled them. Erratically, I shook my head to escape these memories. I looked around. Hundreds of children, all with worried expressions on their face surrounded me. Their eyes still drowned by the tears that filled them. I didn’t know where we were going. No one did... After the long and tedious trip, we were taken to a train station. We were lead into a hall, but the number of children and the amount of noise, blurred my vision and created an even more overwhelming feeling in the pit of my stomach. Inside the hall names were being shouted out. I couldn’t understand a thing. I felt more lost, and overwhelmed than ever. However, eventually, I heard my name, it wasn’t clear, but I knew it was mine. After that, a man came and greeted me, he spoke to me calmly, trying to placate me, and he said that I, along with other young boys would be looked after in a new home, in a place called Twickenham. People kept on saying that this place would be better, but I was hesitant to believe, to hope… After a long journey, we arrived. In front of me was a house, standing next to it was some other boys who, similar to me, seemed quite timid and afraid. It seemed okay, but it was nothing like home. As I stepped tentatively inside, I was asked to bring my suitcase upstairs, another boy lead the way. Hesitantly, I plucked up the courage to speak to him. “Will we be alright here?” He nodded, but I am sure that he is not certain, how can he be – after the way we were treated back home. Lethargic and overwhelmed, I crawled into my bed. The hope that my family might return, slightly comforted me. When I woke up the following morning, the delicious smell of cooking filled the air. It was porridge and tea. I was starving. Food before was limited. This was the first inclination that things might be better than I had thought. I finally had hope.
By Leah Padachi Hampton High
A PERSONAL REFLECTION Tom Palmer’s book ‘After the War’ is an inspiring book that immerses the reader into the plotline, giving any book lover the chance to really grasp the importance of a factual storyline from history. Reflecting on this historical book provides us with a unique opportunity to stop, take note and appreciate our modern-day privileges as well as society. It shows us the meaning of courage, friendship and faith and the role it plays in some of our darkest times. We now live in a society that provides us with a cushion of safety, security and more transparency around Government decisions and laws; a society that does not tolerate hate, racism or deliberate harm to our fellow human beings. ‘After the War’ also emphasises how fortunate we are to have access to better living conditions, food, clothing as well as an education; more than half a century ago it was only the rich that had this access. After WW2 broke out, violence and spite erupted all over Europe, especially in the countries that the Nazis targeted and occupied, countries like Poland which is the focus of this gripping hardback. Poland was debatably the one of the hardest hit countries by the Holocaust. The Nazis invaded Poland and brutally murdered, butchered and imprisoned anyone who followed Judaism. Tom Palmer brings to life the story of the Windermere Boys who lived through the horrors of the Holocaust and miraculously escaped from Poland to the safety of England. The book takes us on a journey of the boys remembering the atrocities of the Nazi invasion, filled with heart wrenching loss, pain, anguish, fear and hate for the Nazi’s that cruelly stole their lives and their country. Their journey also shows us how friendship and courage can overcome any hardship. Even though the Windermere Boys survived the war and horrendous journey to England, they could not escape the memories that haunted them daily. Leaving their family and friends behind to a gruesome faith was not an easy decision. Also, having lived in a country that had over 400 laws discriminating against Jews in 1933 after the Nazis took over – made it difficult to initially accept their newly found freedom. Freedom to be themselves, freedom to speak their minds, freedom to be educated and freedom of constant fear of death. Their life changing journey to England, provided them with a chance of a better, safer life. A life that provided them with proper meals, warm clothing and an education. Overall, the story of the Boys shows us that we should not take anything for granted even the little freedoms. They lived through hardship with unbearable memories. They paved the way for future generations in Twickenham and their story of courage and adversity will never be forgotten! Hence, it is key that we never forget the Windermere Boys who came to Twickenham...stand up for your beliefs, and never give up on humanity. Never let the nightmare of the Holocaust ever repeat itself!
By Matthew Pickles Hampton School
GUNTER’S STORY Gunter felt a little seasick. He’d got on the boat from Holland and had felt apprehensive, and a little scared, but he hadn’t expected to get seasick. He wanted his parents, and wished they could have come too. They always made him feel better. He thought back to when things had been happy. When he could go to the pool, and walk happily down the street to school without a care in the world. Since the night of broken glass, Kristallnacht, he had no longer felt safe. He remembered that he had walked to his parents shop that morning and to his horror, had found all the windows smashed . The boat jolted. After the long train to Holland, and this horrible boat, he had made it to England. Gunter wasn’t sure what to think, he was scared, but he had hope life would be better here. For the first time on the trip, he acknowledged the other boys around him. Many looked scared. Some tired. All fleeing Germany. The adults told them to get off the boat and soon after they arrived in a large hall. It was frightening, listening to all these people talking in English, names being called out one by one. The hall wasn’t grand, but to him it seemed like a palace compared to his house, it made him sad too. It reminded him a bit of his synagogue. . His father had been taken five days after Kristallnacht. Five days after they had been forced out of their home. Five days after he had had to abandoned his toys. That was when his mother decided to send him away. “Gunter Ruf!” the man at the front called. He was jolted out his memories and he nervously stepped forward. A man stepped forward and took his arm. The man’s name was Mr Ruben, he told him. He old Gunter that he was taking him to a place called Twickenham in London and that he would be safe there. When he arrived, he met two other boys, Emil and Freddy, and got on with them but he didn’t like having to change his name to George. He was told to do so because Gunter sounded “too German”. . He thought about home, his sisters, brothers and his mother that first night. He worried about them, he remembered the last time he saw them all, waving from a platform as his train left. Tears on his mother’s cheeks. He felt safe here, but he missed his mother. He worried about his father more though, and wanted to know what the soldiers had done to him. Over the next couple of weeks, he settled in at Lebanon park, the name of the place where he was staying. He tried porridge and tea with milk for the first time, and started going to St Mary’s primary school. He was scared for the future, but also hopeful.
By Meg Delaney Turing House School
RALPH’S STORY This is called Ralph’s story, but really my name is Rolf, Rolf Metzger. I changed my name after I arrived in England, just so that I could fit in better. You may wonder why I was here, and why I want to tell you my story, and for that we need to go back in time to 1939 when I sailed here on a ship named ‘The Prague.’ I’m Jewish. And that fact alone put my life in danger in my home county of Germany. I lived with my mum and dad near Frankfurt but our community came under terrible attack. Our synagogue was burnt to the ground as part of Hitler’s horrific Kristallnacht pogrom in November 1938; it was with huge sadness that my parents decided to send me alone all the way to England. I could have the chance of a free life. I was only eleven. I became one of the Kindertransport children. The British government accepted children who were in danger to come and live here – it saved our lives. But my parents were not allowed to come with me. I remember looking at my mother and seeing her sadness. Saying goodbye to her was dreadful, I couldn't bear it, but I thought about England and how much safer I’d be in this yet unknown country. I travelled by boat, it was a long journey and my voyage wasn’t over once I reached dry land. I was to be sent to a part of London called Twickenham. I’d heard of London but had little idea of what awaited me. My new home was to be number 52 Lebanon Park - a large house, grander than my home, but I saw why: there were going to be ten of us boys living here. There were already a few boys here when I arrived and I became friends with them very quickly. We needed to get along, we were all each other had. I also met Gitte, she was German, like me, a teenager, and was here to help look after us all. We settled into our new lives. It became our normal. And I accepted that this was my family now, as I knew that I didn’t have a choice. I still thought about my parents and my community back in Germany, and I hoped that they were safe. We went to school, we played football, we were lucky enough to have bicycles. And when one of us felt sad the rest of us did our very best to turn those thoughts around. I can look back now, and I can see that I was fortunate. Being separated from my parents at the age of eleven was so incredibly hard, but it gave me the chance of a life, and a future.
By Olive Pugsley Waldegrave School
Rolf looked once again at the slip of paper in his hand. He’d kept it pristine until now. Not a wrinkle. Now it is scrunched so tight in his fist, knuckles white. Like his strength is channelled through it. Through the red stain of J. Taking the deepest breath, raising his chin higher, squeezing the paper tighter. He stepped onto the train to Holland. Everything was blurry from then on: Walk through carriage. Heating up. Breathe, breathe, gasp, breathe. Tears. Sit down. People staring. Scenery. Focus on the beautiful scenery. Mum. Dad. Calm. Calm. Calm. Nerves where invading his brain like the Nazis invaded his house, tramp, tramp, tramp, heavy boots shaking the steady foundations, he was running, hiding in the secret room, folded neatly into the wall. Breaking into a sweat, he barely heard the train grind to a halt. Barely heard the passengers leave. Barely heard the time-worn conductor say ‘Son, you’ve made it.’ jumping back to life, Rolf gazed around. Holland. J was for Jew, assumptions clung to that word like lichen clung to rocks. But H was for hope. For a better future.
By Sam Phillips Teddington School
Stroking the hair of his sleeping grandson, George remembered how different life was for him at that age. Standing all alone, clutching the 5 marks that his mother had pressed into his hands, the young George stumbled up the steps onto the puffing, impatient train. Tears no longer fell as he gazed at the passing flat fields of the Dutch landscape. Promises of a better life felt empty with the smashing of glass from the Kristallnacht still ringing in his ears. As the ship disembarked, George could see the sea racing beneath him. He wondered if he would be allowed to swim again in Britain. Swimming had been banned for Jewish people by the Nazis. Another train journey and finally George reached the capital city of his new country. Disappointed at the cleanliness but relieved to see friendly faces leading him to a hall full of expectant children. Bundled into a bus, George gravitated towards other boys his age. After they had all left the bus, he walked up to No.52 Lebanon Park with his new friends Freddy and Franz. A maternal woman greeted them with a smile and presented them with their own bedroom. In his room George unpacked his small case. The smell of home reminded him of the day his Dad was mercilessly dragged away. The first tear in Britain rolled down his cheek. Deafening silenced was shattered when Freddy and Franz burst through the door. Leaping with joy, he knew that they were going to be his roommates. The following morning, he charged out of bed feeling like he had never eaten before. Racing down the stairs he plunged into his seat only to be flabbergasted by the sludge in front of him. Gitte, the young Jewish woman who had accompanied them, reassured him that it was porridge and was fine. Slowly, he put it in his mouth to discover that it was delicious. It was George’s first day of school in England. Reflecting on the day he was banned from his old school for being Jewish always made him upset. It felt strangely good to be in a uniform and be going to school. To attend St Mary’s Primary, he had to change his name from Gunter to George. Once at school he was taken out of his class to learn English. Arriving at a small room, he saw other boys from Lebanon Park, all there for the same reason. It was extremely exciting as he had already learnt how to greet someone in English. At the hostel, the boys practised English together, making quick progress. By the end of a week at school, they looked forward to working at the River Thames. Stirring from his sleep George’s Grandson gazed into his eyes. The old man whispered, “Remember no matter what you believe, where you come from or who you are, you are loved, valued and special.”
By Sofia Lambrou Waldegrave School
A PERSONAL REFLECTION Personally, I think there are many reasons why people should know about the boys in Twickenham. I believe by explaining and understanding the past, we can develop our own relationship beliefs and values towards people. I think my main point is that by learning about this historic event I can see that the boys played such a huge part in developing Twickenham borough and shaping it to make what it is to this day. The boys who lived at Number 52. Lebanon Park Road, had a rough journey at the start, Adolf Hitler, the Nazi leader, unleashed a wave of anti-Jewish hatred and racism against Jewish people, forcing them to leave their country and come here as part of the Kindertransport. I can only imagine how the boys must have felt and what they experienced when leaving their family and friends, it must have been so frightening. Gunter Ruf, Rolf Metzger, Freddy Popper, Franz Reichmann are only four of the boys that fled over here. When the boys in Twickenham arrived they felt alone, abandoned and lost however as time went on they grew to make friendships that would last a lifetime. This story leaves us with a lasting impression of the value of friendship, kindness, family, belonging and hope. Furthermore, the resilience of the human spirit shines through. Many of the issues raised are particularly relevant in today's world. That is why I think it is really important for everyone in our borough to raise awareness of the history and the impact the boys had on Twickenham. And on Tom Palmer’s book... One of my favourite parts in the book is when Yossi revealed how special the bar of chocolate was and what it meant to him, since it was just your ordinary bar of chocolate, it was special. The story he told was that him and his father would go to get a bar of chocolate, before the war. As a reader I feel that the strong friendship between Yossi, Leo and Mordecai was portrayed so well and detailed. The kindness and hope shown to the children that arrived at the Lake District after suffering the worst was so enlightening and it showed that everyone is worthy and sometimes events happen which change your life which you have no control over. The quote, “Yossi was sitting outside the secret synagogue, with his family, when a car arrived, four men in black uniforms arrived and jumped out of a car.” just showed how visually horrific World War 2 to be scared of people. Their stay at the Lake District is supposed to help them recover from the terrible life put upon them and that they had been experiencing, but the children are trying to start afresh and trying to adjust to their new lives.
By Sophie Ravichandran Hampton High
A PERSONAL REFLECTION It is important for people in our Borough to know about the story of the boys who came to Twickenham as the struggle and trauma they experienced was reality. We have made such progress in being inclusive and appreciating every culture rather than punishing people for their beliefs and religious opinions. This day should help us learn and recognise the past and what people have done to Jews for a period of time. This is significant for people not to forget the atrocities that occurred during the Holocaust. Ordinary people believed in Nazi propaganda and became part of the persecution of Jewish people, and if we forget, history may repeat itself. Politics in the world at the moment are very complicated and people are becoming divided over their beliefs, and we should remember history so that we can avoid becoming further separated in the future. Furthermore, the death of 6 million Jewish people is considered genocide, and many people lost their families so it’s also about the respect for loss life. Human life is such a privilege, it shouldn’t be taken away from anyone. The ongoing grief, pain and suffering is still experienced today as well as the fear of the holocaust reoccurring again. Losing a loved one is always challenging, which makes it that much important for people to remember the Holocaust. This is an example of how a series of events could gradually develop into something unexpected. No matter how many years have passed, people in our borough need to know this specific story and the holocaust as it’s a tragedy many people had faced. The story of the boys who came to Twickenham was an accurate insight of what the years had looked like. This day is an opportunity of discussion and honouring for the many deaths as well as respecting our multi-cultural community rightfully. It may also extend our thinking about similar issues that could affect our modern-day society and help us reflect on the world we are living in to prevent such violence against culture. Both the story and Holocaust Memorial Day spreads awareness and the triumph we have achieved coming forward. However, more people need to be educated on genocides as they don’t just happen overnight. It’s a long process to undertake, driven from hatred or anger to a particular skin colour or race.
By Thomas Massey Hampton School
A PERSONAL REFLECTION On Wednesday 27 January, Holocaust Memorial Day will take place and the world will once again remember the six million Jews who died in the most tragic event in history, the Holocaust. However, despite millions being killed, Britain allowed a group of children to escape from Nazi territory and seek sanctuary from the terror of antisemitism. In the research of such survivors it was found that a number of boys settled in Twickenham, one of whom was called Rolf Metzger and he was sent to Britain after the violence of Kristallnacht. He was separated from his parents to save his life because the British government did not allow the parents to come to England thus meaning he would have found it very difficult to adapt to the change of living in Britain and he was only 11 when it happened. Also, he was separated from where he grew up and lived for his childhood. Another of the boys was Franz Reichmann, and he was only 8 when he was transported, with his two siblings, to England. However, shortly after being sent to England, his parents were taken to a concentration camp and were murdered in 1942. This would’ve made Franz’s situation a lot worse because not only were they in a strange country but there was little chance of returning to Germany before they were adults and their parents were now gone. However, having seen the destruction caused by the Nazis to his hometown even before Kristallnacht, he would probably been traumatised by their actions and being shipped off to a strange land with strange people would not have helped that anxiety. Too, due to him being 8 he would’ve probably felt abandoned by his parents because it would have been difficult to process what was actually happening. A survivor, Primo Levi said that “Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.” This idea explains how the common German people were brainwashed by the ideologies of Hitler. They were almost tricked into believing that what Hitler was trying to do was acceptable. However, it is important to realise that not everyone in Germany and Austria actually agreed with Hitler but in a very unjust and cruel way, he offered hope for the common German people after a Great Depression and loss of land after WW1. In conclusion, it is important to remember the stories of the survivors of the Holocaust because they offer a first-hand point of view into the suffering that they had to experience and Holocaust Memorial Day brings communities together to recognise the horrors of the Holocaust.
By Nida Noori Twickenham School
THE BOY WHO SAW The boy saw grey skies and grey lands. The boy saw striped clothes and bare heads. The boy saw sunken eyes and hopeless hearts. The boy saw weary hands and broken souls. The boy heard hearty laughs and snide remarks. The boy heard echoing shots and defeating silence. The boy heard silent tears and loud cries. The boy heard someone lie and then someone die. The boy tasted bitter vengeance and sorrows. The boy tasted plain porridges and metal. The boy tasted salt from tears and the sky. The boy tasted dry dirt and silent prayers. The boy felt dazed and dreamed. The boy felt sunken and stolen. The boy felt buried and broken. The boy felt defeated and damaged. The boy knew languages and words. The boy knew wisdom and knowledge. The boy knew colours and paints. The boy knew pain and death.
By Koyuki Lowe Grey Court School
A PERSONAL REFLECTION The Holocaust, an event which took place from 1941 â€“ 1945 during the Second World War was a horrible genocide which saw the mass murder of millions of people. In the latter half of the world war, they were kept in places called ghettos where walls were metres of barbed wire, hunger was usual and escape meant death. This was only due to the Jewish peopleâ€™s religion and their faith in what they believed was correct. They were thought of as impure and less superior to that of the firm German believers. When the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, came to power as the leader of Germany this chain of events was inevitable. A main aspect during the Holocaust was the treatment of children. Children who were still new to the world had to experience first-hand what it was like to live during a time of conflict. They had to face the horrors of the Holocaust, antisemitism, hatred, and racism against Jewish people, all for unjustifiable reasons. A child who fortunately was able to be sent out of Germany was Rolf Metzger. After the beginning of the persecution of Jewish people and the violence of Kristallnacht, his parents made an agonizing decision to send Rolf on a Kindertransport ( journey to England offered for children under the age of 17) to avoid such dangers lurking within Germany. This saved his life but unfortunately the same future might be different to his parents. However, not everyone was as lucky as him. Over the years, the treatment of Jews started to worsen, Ghettos, concentration camps and death marches provided even more merciless killing of the innocent. These were all events which led to the deaths of over 6 million people. To prevent and learn is why people should be notified of what happened and to take the steps to prevent such prejudices from starting again. The boys who came to Twickenham were lucky to survive although the same could not be said about others. This is why the people in our borough should know about their existence and significance it holds for the future. It demonstrates to people how fragile society is and the importance of preserving and protecting the rights of humanistic values. It also highlights the effort of the international community to respond to the genocide and gives hope to those who feel countries around the world are only acting in a passive way.
By Vaibhav Neela Hampton School
A PERSONAL REFLECTION These were the young people who came to Twickenham. Rolf, who was just eleven years old when he had to leave his family and travel to the United Kingdom). Franz, whose mother and father took the heart breaking decision to send their three children to the UK as part of the Kindertransport. Freddy (he and his mother, Greta, left Vienna (their hometown) in 1939 and came to London) and Gunter, who was taken to Dortmund station and put him on a train to go to Holland. There was also a young woman, named Margot Brauer who was nineteen when the boys arrived in the UK. She was able to escape along with her sister with the assistance of her family in Berlin just before the war started. She was very popular among the boys and the boys stayed in touch with her after they left the kinderhostel as a sign of gratitude for her kindness. Some of you may be thinking, ‘why must I know about the story of these boys? They have nothing to do with me.’ Well, it’s important that we are wary of this event as there are Holocaust deniers who shockingly do not believe in the Nazi genocide of Jews in the Holocaust. By hearing about the stories of the boys, this clearly shows strong evidence along with pictures to show that the Holocaust really happened. We must also understand the emotional pain that the children went through as they had to live knowing that they could do nothing to save their family and not live with their real family. Some children may have been left thinking that their parents left them because they didn’t love them when they were put in the Kindertransport. I think this comes without saying, but the younger generation may be able to relate better to the children who escaped safely from the camps because they are of a similar age and in a way, they can sympathise with them and their feelings. Furthermore, this will help teach the younger generation about immoral and moral actions so they know the consequences of allowing hate to grow unchecked. Most people with general knowledge would most likely not know that the Kindertransport existed and it’s important that while we also should remember the darkest moments in history, we should always remember that there is light, no matter how small, there is hope. This hope was represented through the children who safely escaped the horror of the concentration camps and arrived here in Twickenham.
By Xanthe Darnell Waldegrave School
STEPPING INTO MY FUTURE – AN IMAGINED JOURNEY I wasn’t sure who I could trust. My family had told us we would be safe in England, but how could I know this? What if everything was destroyed there too? What if we got taken away again? What if our homes were destroyed, our windows smashed? What was this place called Twickenham? I was scared, especially because I also had to care for my 6 year old brother. Not being able to be in control of where you’re going next is a horrible feeling. I’d like to make my own choices, but they tell me it will be safer... We were told to pack our bags, which only consisted of an old toothbrush and one more set of clothes. We had been given a smart blazer each. I struggled to sleep that night. I had too much of a busy brain thinking about Twickenham. I kept dreaming about the sights I’ve seen on the streets around my home and no matter how many times I try to erase those images they have stayed wedged in my mind. It was about 6 o’clock in the morning when we were all woken up to go to the train station. I told my brother that he should stay close as it was very busy. The journey was long as we passed through to different train stations and then onto a ferry, and then more trains.... but finally we arrived in Twickenham! Smoke was swirling everywhere and there were so many people. The group was taken to a special desk, but I could hardly walk because I was so tired and overwhelmed. Everything looked so different, everyone sounded so different. A lady at the desk looked up and stood and started approaching me and my brother. I automatically backed away and pulled my brother along with me. I then closed my eyes in fear of what would happen next. But nothing came so I slowly opened my eyes to find a string around my neck saying my name and a number. I asked what it was for and they told me that in case I got lost, people would know who to talk to. I suppose that was a good idea. The lady took my crumpled train ticket from my sweaty palm, and smiled at me. Next, we were taken to our destination. Lebanon Park, number 52. It was a smart house, red brick with many white window frames, marked with soot. We have rooms of three people in them and I made sure I had a room with my brother. This could be a big change for me. Many weeks have passed now and I’m settling here in Twickenham. My brother and I are to go to a new school. We have been told to change our names, which I am not pleased about. I never would have expected that I would live in England, but this is where my future must begin, and I just hope that my brother and I are safe.
By Zac Veale Turing House School
A PERSONAL REFLECTION I believe it’s important that the people of Richmond Borough, and indeed the rest of the UK, know the story of the children that were forced to flee their homes in Germany and Austria, and come to England during the Kindertransport. Their stories, their lived experience, offer unique insight into a major part of Europe’s history. These stories, come from a period of time that is mostly dominated by World War 1, the Great Depression and World War 2. However, the history of these events is often told from the point of view of the victors and focuses on military manoeuvres and political machinations. They are told from the perspectives of powerful men, but they concern real people, normal men, women and children, men, women and children who were powerless. It is my view that the stories of these ordinary people enable a new generation to better understand traumatic events such as the ‘Kristallnacht’ (Night of Broken Glass). Viewing these events from a child’s perspective, and hearing how they affected children- shaping the rest of their lives, enables children of today to connect with the past in a way that other histories do not. Overall, I believe that it is important for people to hear the influential stories of the children that came to Twickenham before and after World War 2, to live in a Kinderhostel, as in it allows the memories of, Rolf Metzger, Franz Reichmann, Freddy Popper, Gunter Ruf and so many more, to become immortalised. In doing so, it enables us to understand the human experience of historic events. In short, these stories bring history to life.
By Zeph Fyleman Turing House School
THE JOURNEY Rolf stood in the crowded train, thinking of his mother and father who he'd left behind at the station, wondering if he'd see them again. The train held around 200 Jewish children escaping from Nazi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland. They were being taken to the safety of Britain. There was a nervous sort of atmosphere on the train; everyone fearing the future more than being relieved that they had been allowed to go. Flashbacks of Rolf 's childhood in Mainz came to him. The summers full of fun and the hours spent on his tricycle, the cold winters and the many trips to the synagogue in the town. Memories that he hoped he would never forget; memories that he didn't want to be overwhelmed by terrible discrimination that he and his community had endured over the last few years. Rolf told himself to stop thinking about those things, this was a new start, a new chance to have a happy childhood. But he was there without his parents, the one constant in his life. The train came to a juddering halt, signalling that the children had completed the first part of their journey. Rolf clambered off the train, luggage in hand, and took in his first sight of the Hook of Holland. The village and port, which was where the boat, the 'Prague', that was about to take them across the channel to England was docked. The 'Prague' lay a short walk away from the station, with its towering funnels and posts creating the shadow in which the children walked in. The intimidating structure brought shivers down Rolf 's spine, It was hard to think that the giant object could bring them to the safety of a different country. The children hurried onto the boat under the supervision of the captain and his crew, whispering to each other in their different languages. Rolf stood on the bow, wanting to be the first to see land. He had mixed feelings about this "adventure", at least that's what his parents had called it. He had been told that he would go far away from the bad things and people, and that his parents would come as soon as they could. But how long would that be? A shout from the Captain told Rolf that England, and Rolf 's new home country, had been sighted. In the distance he could make out the cliffs, exposed from the beam of the lighthouse. As soon as the 'Prague' docked into the port of Harwich, the children tumbled out of the ship, taking in their new surroundings. Rolf searched the crowd for the person who was going to take him in, and had paid for his transport, eventually resting his eyes on a young woman who was bearing a cardboard slack with his name on. "I'm Margot Brauer, but you can call me 'Gitte'. And you must be Rolf Matzger." Rolf nodded shyly. "I am going to take you to a place in London called Twickenham".
WHO WERE THE BOYS WHO CAME TO LEBANON PARK?
The studentsâ€™ responses and reflections were based on the true stories of the boys who fled Nazism in the late 1930s and came to Twickenham as part of the kindertransport. Of the ten boys who lived in the house in Lebanon Park weâ€™ve managed to find out about four of the boys (and a young lady who helped them) who fled Nazi Germany and Austria and came to Twickenham. They were: Gunter Ruf, Rolf Metzger, Freddy Popper, Franz Reichmann... and we also know about Margot Brauer, a young lady who also fled Germany and looked after the boys in Lebanon Park.
ROLF METZGER Rolf Metzger was born into a Jewish family on 21 August 1928. His family lived in the town of Mainz which is in the west of Germany near Frankfurt. Rolf, who changed his name to Ralph when he lived in England, arrived at the port of Harwich on 27 June 1939.
Rolf and younger cousin Henri Stern on horseback
Rolf Metzger on his bycycle before he was forced to flee Germany.
WHO WERE THE BOYS WHO CAME TO LEBANON PARK?
GUNTER RUF Gunter was born into a Jewish family in the town of Herne which is in the west of Germany near the city of Dortmund. When the Nazis came to power life for Jewish people became awful. Gunter remembers not being able to do things he enjoyed, like swimming in the local pool, because Jews were banned. After Kristallnacht Gunter and his family were forced to leave their home and live in cramped conditions with other Jewish families. On April 19 1939 Gunter’s parents put him on a train to Holland as part of the Kindertransport.
Gunter on his first day of school in Germany in 1935.
FRANZ REICHMANN Franz Reichmann was born in 1930 in a town called Beuthen in Germany. Just before Kristallnacht, Josef Goebbels visited Beuthen and made a deeply racist, antisemitic speech in the town. Local Nazis burned down the synagogue in Beuthen and the local Jewish people were made to stand for hours in front of the burning building. Kurt and Betty Reichmann took the heart breaking decision to send their three children to the UK as part of the Kindertransport. Franz was eight years old. It is believed that Franz’s parents, Kurt and Betty, were murdered by the Nazis on 13th June 1942 – possibly in Auschwitz.
Franz’s immigration document given to him by the British government when he arrived in 1939.
WHO WERE THE BOYS WHO CAME TO LEBANON PARK?
FREDDY POPPER Freddy was born into a Jewish family in Vienna, the capital of Austria, on 14 June 1928. His parents divorced in 1936 and his father, a musician, went to live in Palestine. Freddy and his mum, Greta, were somehow able to escape Vienna in 1939 and come to London. Freddy came to live at the kinderhostel in Twickenham. After the boys left No.52 in 1944 Freddy became a tailor and then a highly skilled pattern cutter. In his spare time he loved playing music and played his clarinet in jazz bands. Gunter on his first day of school in Germany in 1935.
MARGOT BRAUER Even though the Kinderhostel was just for boys they were looked after by Margot Brauer. She has a fascinating story of her own. Margot was called ‘Gitte’ by the boys, who loved her very much. Margot herself was Jewish and grew up in Berlin. She was a brilliant athlete but the Nazis banned her from being a member of a club or take part in competitions just because she was Jewish. She witnessed Kristallnacht and was able to escape to Britain... but her parents weren’t able to. Instead, Margot’s parents helped to hide Jewish people from the Nazis. All the boys together in the back garden of No. 52 Lebanon Park in Twickenham
There were other Jewish boys fled from Nazi Europe who lived at the house too. We haven’t been able to find out much about them but their names were: Fred Pauker, Emil Hauber, William Heidenheimer, Gerald Ohrbach, Harold Ohrbach, Kurt Kristeller.
WHO WERE THE BOYS WHO CAME TO LEBANON PARK?
LEBANON PARK KINDERHOSTEL Hampton School pupils Josh and Felix spent months researching the story of the boys who came to Twickenham as part of the Kindertransport. To raise awareness of the Kinderhostel in Lebanon Park they recently made a short film about it. Please click on the image below to view the film: