After nearly three years of investigation and dedication, I’ve reached writing the LAST chapter of my book, of my book Jewish Lives: Britain 1750-1950, which is due for publication (Pen & Sword) in 2013.
This was a hard one– the story of Feige Fella Mendzigursky, a teenager who left Leipzig, Germany Manchester via Kindertransport for Manchester, UK.
Word of the British rescue program spread quickly through Nazi-occupied Europe. Although scores of desperate parents submitted their children’s applications through local Jewish authorities , priority was given to children who were homeless, threatened with deportation or arrest, or whose parents were incarcerated. Those accepted had little time to prepare. Parents and guardians, pressing small satchels stuffed with toys and family photos into their hands, bid hasty farewells. As recounted in Into the Arms of Strangers,
The station was crowded with children of all ages, from four to seventeen, and their parents. I think there must have been three hundred of us. I got on the train…The children didn’t want to leave. The parents said, ”We’ll see you in England in a few weeks,” and there was crying and it was bedlam. …. The children went with the hope that the parents will follow, or that one day they could come back and they would see them again. [They] did not realize …. that only a year-and-a-half later, from the same railway station, trains would go in the other direction to Hitler’s slaughterhouses.”
Feige Fella, who arrived with her sister and father and was hosted by relatives, adjusted fairly quickly to her new life. But her mother and younger sister, 7 year old Muschi, remained behind.
–With thanks to Judith Elam, Feige Fella’s daughter