For a long time, the story of the Kindertransports, which in 1938/39 enabled some 10,000 young Jews to escape the German sphere of influence and reach Great Britain, lay in the shadow of historical research on the Holocaust. Today, in addition to memoirs and autobiographical testimony, the first scientific works on Kindertransports have been published. "Kinder" living today around the world have come together and spoken, and drawn the attention of noted international congresses. In 1989, Bertha Leverton organized the first "Kindertransport" reunion in London and brought the experiences of Kindertransportees into collective public awareness with the anthology I Came Alone. Since then, the public has taken note of this chapter of history through film and television documentaries. "Kinder" memoirs, such as Gideon Behrendt's Mit dem Kindertransport in die Freiheit, have penetrated the public consciousness.
The Kindertransport also has received interdisciplinary attention at the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism at the Technical University in Berlin and at the Centre for German-Jewish Studies of the University of Sussex in Brighton, under the directorship of Edward Timms. Together, these institutions engendered a workshop in June 2001 in Brighton and an international conference in Berlin in 2002, where the results of research were presented illuminating the theme from the perspectives of literature and sociology, history and psychoanalysis. A conference in London following the workshop in Brighton 2001 and a panel discussion within the framework of the Berlin conference in 2002 brought researchers together with former Kindertransport participants; papers from this conference were published in the German book Die Kindertransporte 1938/39: Rettung und Integration, edited by Wolfgang Benz, Claudia Curio, and Andrea Hammel (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 2003)—the first product of common efforts to prevent this theme from falling into oblivion. The articles in this special issue of Shofar are based on the book.
We owe our thanks to the Stiftung Luftbrückendank and the Axel Springer Foundation in Berlin, which made the conferences and the resulting contribution of the book possible through generous contributions covering organizational and transportation costs. We are also grateful to the British Academy for its support of the project on "The Kindertransport Children: Identity, Adaptation and Trauma" at the Centre for German-Jewish Studies.
Wolfgang Benz, born in 1941, historian, professor at the Technical University of Berlin and director of the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism. His numerous publications deal with German history of the 20th century.
Claudia Curio, born in 1971 in Berlin, studied history and sociology in Vienna and Berlin and at the University of Essex, England. Since 2000 she has been a doctoral candidate at the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism and archivist at the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism. In 2003/2004 she was Charles Revson Fellow at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC. She has numerous publications, above all on children in exile in Britain.
Andrea Hammel, born in 1968 in Giessen, studied German literature, comparative literature, and sociology. Since 1998 she has been a research fellow of the Centre for German-Jewish Studies. She is co-editor of The German-Jewish Dilemma: From the Enlightenment to the Holocaust and Writing after Hitler: The Work of Jakov Lind. Her research focuses on texts by female writers in exile, and autobiographies of former German-Jewish refugees. Publications on Hilde Spiel, Ruth Klüger, Jakov Lind, Silvia Rodgers and Selma Kahn. Supported by the British Academy, she worked on a database of autobiographical material from former Kindertransportees in England and is now engaged in an AHRB-funded project on a database of all archival materials relating to German-speaking refugees (1933-50) in Great Britain.