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Saved from the Nazis' death camps, but we lost our families; Kinder transpor t was the name for a series of missions which brought up to 10,000 Jewish children from Nazi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland to Britain 75 years ago before the outbreak of war. Paddy Shennan tells the poignant stories of three child refugees who made their homes in Liverpool.

Byline: Paddy Shennan

THEY are the heartbreaking letters written by parents who knew they would never see their beloved children again.

Kay Fyne, formerly Klein, now 87, a retired nurse who lives in Mossley Hill, was 10 and her brother, Walter, just three when they were put on a Kindertransport train from Bad Neustadt, in Bavaria, to England on August 26, 1939 - the final train from Germany before war broke out.

She later realised her parents, Hugo and Gretel Klein, had perished when she stopped receiving letters. In the 1980s, when she visited the Yad Veshem Holocaust Centre, in Jerusalem, she traced them as far as the Polish transit camp Izbica in 1942. The trail ended there.

Kay made a return visit to Bad Neustadt, supported by her three children and her late husband, Norman: "It was very traumatic and I found it difficult to speak to Germans from the older generation."

But she did finally receive the letters her parents left with neighbours in case she returned.

They are hard for anyone to read, so we can only imagine how difficult they were for Kay to read - and for her parents to write.

Her mother wrote: "What will happen to us we will entrust to dear God. Should we not see each other again in this life, I will say goodbye to my beloved children. Become good respectable people as your parents were, so that we can rest in peace in our graves.

"Pray for us and remember us and tell your children how we were tormented to death. The dear God protect you and guard you. I embrace and kiss you fervently. Look well after dear little Walter. Until we meet again in the hereafter. Your always sad and never forgetting you and now so unhappy Mama."

Her father wrote: "I will thank the dear God that He has protected you until now from all harm and will guard you in the future. Should we have to die, then so be it and I ask of you to pray for us every day. Become good persons. The dear God protect you, my best and most beloved children who have had to leave us so soon. I kiss you many times and when I die I will have your pictures in my hand and will take them to the grave. Goodbye, I cannot write any more, my heart is bleeding, Papa."

Kay spent the war years in Surrey but later, after first moving to Kent, settled in Liverpool.

She recalls: "My father heard Britain was accepting 10,000 unaccompanied children under the Kindertransport system. I am very grateful to Britain, it was the only country which would take us."

FOR 10-year-old Hana Kohn and her twin brother, Hans, it was the start of what they thought was a great adventure.

Hana, who lived in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, had never been to her country's beautiful capital - less than 60 miles away - had never seen the sea, and had never been anywhere without her parents, Irma and Felix, who were about to wave her off.

But here she was on her way to Prague, to catch a train and then a boat to the Essex port of Harwich "to spend a few months with different families in South Yorkshire learning English."

Even better, their older sister, Greta, 14, would be following a month later.

But Greta's train never left Prague - and Hana and Hans would never see her or their parents again.

They left on July 31, 1939 - on a Kindertransport train organised by London-born Nicholas Winton (now Sir Nicholas, and still living, aged 104) - who became known as "the British Schindler" after rescuing 669 mostly-Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.

In a newspaper interview six years ago, Sir Nicholas said: "The vision of those children waiting eagerly in Prague for that last aborted train still haunts me. None of the children were ever seen again ... If only it had been a day earlier."

It's thought Greta was among those waiting for the last train to safety - that never left.

Today, Hana, 85, who married but had no children, lives in Childwall.

Of that childhood "adventure", she recalls: "We were so excited, especially because Greta was going to join us.

"For a while, we were able to exchange letters - though we believed the letters from Greta and my parents were censored. But soon the letters stopped coming."

In spring, 1940, Hana and Hans learned that their parents, Greta, three grandparents and other relatives had been sent to Terezin concentration camp, in Czechoslovakia. But Hana stresses: "At the time, the term 'concentration camp' was interpreted simply as a displacement venue. Hans and I prayed that by the end of the war they would be able to return home."

Even when the terrible truth about the camps was revealed at the end of the war, Hana still hoped for good news. But for decades there was nothing: "It was only after Hans and I were able to return freely after the fall of the Berlin Wall that we learned the grim facts at Prague Town Hall and the city's Pinkas Synagogue. Our frail old granny, Hermione, died two weeks after arriving at Terezin. Her husband, our grandfather, Wilhelm, was sent to an extermination camp in Poland in 1942 and put straight into a gas chamber.

"Our dear uncle Arnold was shot and buried in a mass grave the same year. We never found out exactly what happened to Mum, Dad and Greta - they were sent east from Terezin in 1942 to an extermination camp, 'destination unknown'.

"For many years, I had these little niggly feelings - maybe Greta would still turn up somehow.

Bless her, she never did."

Though she was sheltered from the shocking reality, Hana says: "I shall never forget the tears in my dear mother's eyes as we kissed and said goodbye, my father's warm embrace or Greta's hug."

And, with great sadness in her own eyes, she adds: "We later heard that Greta could have been on our train.

"There was some sort of clerical error."

In their new Yorkshire homes, Hana and Hans kept in regular contact with each other.

"We were so fortunate. We ended up being adopted by the two non-Jewish families who kindly gave us a home - me in Sheffield and Hans in Rotherham."

Hans, who later changed his name to John, went on to become a doctor, marry and have four children and eight grandchildren. He died of a heart attack 17 years ago.

Hana, who married the late Steve Eardley - a buyer for the Blackler's department store in Liverpool, says: "I drifted into teaching languages and at one time thought to myself 'What am I doing teaching German? I hate Germans'. But that was the wrong attitude because the best thing I did was go to Germany for three months after I got my degree from Sheffield University. I met ordinary German people and realised they were not ogres."

She adds "Some dreadful things happened but I counterbalance this with the goodness and kindness of the English people. Hitler didn't win!" ALTHOUGH only eight years old when she arrived in England from Vienna on June 15, 1939, Inge Goldrein - nee Schwarz - was all too aware of the desperate living conditions for Jews in her homeland.

Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, a series of coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on November 9-10, 1938, had brought terror and Inge, 82, of Hale Village, recalls: "There were reduced food rations for Jewish people and you couldn't go to the park and play.

"My cousins used to take me skating, but then Jewish children were not allowed any more." Inge was only two when her mother, Anna, died of a brain tumour and she then lived with her grandparents, Adolf and Regina Politza, although her grandfather died in 1936.

Of her new life, she says: "I knew I was going to England, but I didn't know much else. My father (Herman) took me to the station and he was very controlled.

Elsewhere, there was a lot of crying and emotion but, as I recall, he was doing his best to control himself.

"I was 81/2 and on my own but I've always been bloody-minded. Everyone was crying, but strangers seeing me cry? Not on your nellie!

"It was a horrible journey. I remember mostly being on my knees in the lavatory, being sick. I was ill all the way - two days."

Inge ended up in Liverpool due to a cousin, Lisl Herlinger, having earlier been taken on as a maid to a Church of England minister in the city: "The lady who was to be my adoptive mother, Sarah Bernstein, had met my cousin and seen a photograph of me."

Sarah was married to Eli Bernstein and Inge moved in with them above their wallpaper shop in Granby Street, Toxteth, recalling: "At first we had no common language, except a bit of Yiddish."

Of her family back home, she says: "I got letters - initially. Sometimes, I am overcome with guilt. Other times, I think 'I was a child of eight' ... I wasn't thinking about what I left behind."

After the war, Inge, then 14 - her new family were now in Allerton Road - made some painful discoveries: "I was unsettled. I didn't know if I had anyone to go back to. Then I learned my father had been deported to Minsk and nothing more had been heard. As Minsk was the killing fields, you can only imagine ..." Later, she found out her grandmother had been sent to Treblinka in Poland and, from there, to Auschwitz: "And she didn't come out of Auschwitz."

In her new home, Inge's adoptive father encouraged her to go to university and she studied law, later building a distinguished career for herself as a barrister and then a circuit court judge.

She married Major Eric Goldrein, a war hero and barrister. They have two children and a grandchild.

Inge gives talks to schoolchildren, and says: "You ask, 'Do you know about World War II? Winston Churchill?' And they look at you as if you're daft. But they do get interested. And I do feel it's my duty - that if there is any way you can do your bit to stop these things happening again you ought to."? THE ECHO would like to thank Susanne Green, NW groups co-ordinator of the Association of Jewish Refugees. She would like anyone who may have come on a Kindertransport or who was a refugee or a survivor of the Holocaust - or a family member - to contact AJR on 0208 385 3070 or email for more information. ? On Sunday, December 1, World Jewish Relief, in conjunction with the Association of Jewish Refugees, will be holding a service at Liverpool Street Station, London, recalling the arrival 75 years to the day of the first transport of children.


AT HOME: Inge Goldrein, above, and as a child, right, now tells children about the war

SURVIVOR: Kay Fyne with Liverpool actress Eithne Browne, left, during rehearsals for a Holocaust Memorial Day event. Her parents, Gretel and Hugo Klein, right, and one of their letters, above

LOST FAMILY: Hana Eardley, right, survived thanks to the Kindertransport, as did her twin brother, Hans. They are pictured, top, with their sister, Greta, left, who was sent to a death camp along with their parents, Irma and Felix Kohn, above. Hana's Kindertranspot permit, below right
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 14, 2013
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