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Nov 2006 Journal

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New Kindertransport statue installed

Sculptor receives Freedom of the City

At a reception marking the installation of a new statue to the 'Children of the Kindertransport' on the concourse of London's Liverpool Street Station, Linda Rosenblatt, Vice Chair of World Jewish Relief, expressed her pride in having co-operated with the AJR to complete the project. Thanking all individuals and organisations for their contributions, she particularly appreciated the key role played by Erich Reich, a member of the AJR's Management and Kinder Planning Committees and an active supporter of World Jewish Relief. She also expressed deep gratitude to the sculptor, Frank Meisler, also one of the Kinder, who had passed through Liverpool Street Station in 1939; he richly deserved to have received the award of the Freedom of the City of London.

In responding, Frank Meisler, a leading Israeli sculptor with an international reputation, remembered his first arrival among a group of 16 Jewish children from Danzig, with identification labels around their necks - tired, bedraggled and apprehensive of their fate. At last year's reception for Kinder at Clarence House, Prince Charles had referred to the many positive contributions the children had subsequently made to Britain. It was at this reception that Erich Reich had invited him to consider the design of a new Kindertransport statue. It had taken little more than a year for the original concept to be installed, for which he particularly thanked his staff in Israel. Frank Meisler dedicated the statue to the parents who, in an act of supreme sacrifice, had remained behind knowing they would probably never see their children again.

On behalf of the AJR Charitable Trust, which had funded the major proportion of the new project, AJR Chairman Andrew Kaufman said how delighted and honoured the AJR was to be associated with the statue. As the son of German-Jewish parents, he felt a close affinity with the children of the Kindertransport, who were an integral part of the organisation. He congratulated all who had helped to bring the project about. Eric Reich said that in his many contacts with Frank Meisler they had retained their friendship and sense of humour. The statue which now stood in the recently named Hope Square was a wonderful and moving creation which marked a significant moment in recording the unique history of the Kindertransport.

Hermann Hirschberger, Kindertransport Chairman, recalled that it was 67 years since their arrival in England. Many parents decided only after Kristallnacht to attempt to include their children in the Kindertransport, which the British government approved on 22 November 1938. The Central British Fund (now World Jewish Relief) had played the central role in saving most of the 10,000 unaccompanied, mainly Jewish children who were allowed into the country. Having viewed the new statue during its installation, he felt that it captured the atmosphere of the days the children had arrived and would bring their story to life. Frank Meisler presented a model of the statue to Andrew Kaufman.
Ronald Channing

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