Kinder Sculpture

 

Jul 2009 Journal

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Kindertransport Reunion founder Bertha Leverton to emigrate to Israel

 

Bertha Leverton, founder and organiser of the Reunion of Kindertransport, is to emigrate to Israel to live with her family there.

At a crowded and deeply moving farewell party at the AJR Centre in Cleve Road, members paid tribute to Bertha’s contribution to the Kindertransport movement – which would not have existed without her efforts.

Over 20 years ago, against all odds, Bertha took it upon herself to bring about an international gathering of those who, like herself, had fled to Britain from Nazi persecution, in many cases never seeing their parents again.
The enormous success of the 1988 First Reunion was followed ten years later by a Second Reunion, and, last November, by a Third Reunion, when almost 600 people, including guests from Israel, the USA, Germany and elsewhere, were present. On the latter occasion, undoubtedly the highlight of the day for many Kinder was the attendance as guest of honour of HRH The Prince of Wales.
At the farewell party, the present KT Chairman Erich Reich, the former KT Chairman Hermann Hirschberger and Rolf Penzias, a school contemporary of Bertha, reminisced about Bertha’s legendary determination, paying tribute to her virtually single-handed achievement in forming the Kindertransport movement. ‘You never argued with Bertha – you simply accepted what she said!’, Hermann declared to much laughter.
Bertha was awarded the OBE in 2005: ‘To think that a child who lived through Nazi times in Germany, escaped on the Kindertransport to England, built a life here, raised a family, and was so very fortunate to have been reunited with her parents!’, Bertha remarked at the time. ‘I came as a bedraggled refugee – really, like we all came – and made it to Buckingham Palace to receive an honour from Her Majesty the Queen for the work I have done in reuniting those former refugee children. That is, I think, the pinnacle of my life.’
 


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