Feige Fella Mendzigursky: Leipzig to Manchester, 1939

Postcard from Fella’s mother and sister, Muschi, 20 August 1939…sending ‘ lots of love and kisses’ and ‘Many greetings to your foster parents and many thanks to them.’

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