HRH The Prince of Wales attends the Kindertransport Celebration
The AJR was honoured and delighted to welcome His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales to the Celebration organised by the AJR's Kindertransport committee.
Recalling Parliament's decision to accept 10,000 unaccompanied children as refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe, Prince Charles spoke of his pride at being British as well as the enormous contribution made to Britain by the Kinder and other refugees from Nazism.
Prince Charles also spoke movingly about his paternal Grandmother, Alice Princess of Greece, who rescued a Jewish family in Athens during the Second World War and who never mentioned her courageous deeds.
He said: "That's one reason why I wanted to be with you today because my grandmother would have approved. She was a very remarkable lady." He added he was "incredibly proud a member of my family did the right thing".
"That I think is something we always need to remember on these occasions. What is the right thing to do?" he added.
The Celebration was attended by more than 500 former child refugees, their children and other guests and was organised by the Kindertransport committee of the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR) to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Parliament’s decision to admit 10,000 unaccompanied children to Britain.
Sir Martin Gilbert gave the keynote address titled, ‘The British Government, The British People and the Kinder’ and spoke about his recent visit to Lady Thatcher to talk about her recollections of the young Jewish girl her family gave a home to in 1939. To read a copy of Sir Martin's address click here.
Minister of State, the Rt Hon Tony McNulty MP, represented the British Government and gave an address which can be read here. The programme also featured Edwina Currie chairing a panel discussion featuring Lady Jakobovitz, herself a Holocaust survivor. Guests also heard from Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, Lord Janner and Lord Attenborough, who emotionally recalled the two German Jewish girls who were given a home by his family just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War.
The day-long gathering at JFS, which was instrumental in helping evacuate many Kinder from London to Ely, at the beginning of the war, also included a service of remembrance, presentations, lunch, a Klezmer concert and tea.
The Celebration was concluded by Chairman of the Association of Jewish Refugees, Andrew Kaufman, who presented a replica of the statue created by Frank Meisler that stands in Hope Square at the entrance to Liverpool Street station, as gift to Prince Charles to mark his 60th birthday.
In his remarks, Andrew Kaufman said: "We are honoured to have the opportunity to meet you today and we are delighted that you have found time in your busy schedule to join in our Celebration. We were honoured to accept your invitation to Clarence House in 2005 and very much hope that your visit here today strengthens our close ties and we look forward to sharing many events and celebrations together in the future.
In the days leading up to the Celebration, the Kinder also made commemorative visits to the Imperial War Museum, the Kinder Monument at Liverpool Street Station, where many of the Kinder arrived, and the Bevis Marks Synagogue.
Chairman of the Kindertransport committee, Erich Reich, said, “We were delighted and deeply honoured to welcome and meet His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales as well as several other luminaries. The Kindertransport Celebration marks one of the single most important decisions ever taken by the British government. Thanks to its intervention some 10,000 children, myself included, were saved from certain death. The occasion proved to be an exceptional celebration in the company of some of those people who arrived on these shores as young children so many years ago.”
A selection of photographs from the event can be seen here
For further information about the event please contact the Association of Jewish Refugees on 020 8385 3070.