Jun 2006 Journal

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How did you escape from Nazi Europe?

The Society of Friends rescued thousands of Jews from Nazi Europe. The Society does not seek publicity, but this is no reason why people like myself - whose family and life it saved - should be content with the minimum recognition it has received from us Jews.

The Quakers gave guarantees the life line - essential for Jews to obtain visas to move to England - not knowing in most cases the people for whom they were guaranteeing but aware that help was needed.

My brother and I were provided with two free years in a Quaker boarding school in Cumberland to ensure our safety and to enable our parents to look after their other relations. Of the school's less than 150 pupils, five were refugees.

More than 10,000 Jewish children were rescued from Germany and Austria by the Society and enabled to come to England. They played an important role in the Kindertransport movement.

That Quakers were among the most active groups of rescuers of Jews from the Holocaust was recognised by the award in 1949 of a Nobel Peace Prize for humanitarian efforts to both the British Friends Service Committee and its American counterpart.

In 2001 a sculpture of a leader of the Quaker movement was installed and dedicated in the courtyard of Friends' House, London. The sculpture was made by Naomi Blake, herself a Kindertransport member. Its plaque reads: 'To honour Bertha Bracey (1893-1989) who gave practical leadership to Quakers in quietly rescuing and re-settling thousands of Nazi victims and lone children between 1922-1938.'

Today, the question is: what have the beneficiaries of the Society's work and dedication done to ensure that we, and our future generations, are aware of its actions to save us in our hour of need and to ensure that its unique, inspired help will never be forgotten?

With the support and assistance of the Association of Jewish Refugees, I would ask all those who were helped in any way by the Society of Friends - or who have a friend, acquaintance or relative who might have received help - to forward to me their names and addresses so that I can send them a form for completion and initiate the project We Must Never Forget. Please contact me at: 7 Bruntwood Lane, Cheadle, Cheshire SK8 1HS, tel 0161 428 5080, email peter@kurer.co.uk.
Peter F. Kurer

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