Jennifer Craig-Norton sets out to challenge celebratory narratives of the Kindertransport that have dominated popular memory as well as literature on the subject. According to these accounts, the Kindertransport was a straightforward act of rescue and salvation, with little room for a deeper, more complex analysis. This volume reveals that in fact many children experienced difficulties with settlement: they were treated inconsistently by refugee agencies, their parents had complicated reasons for giving them up, and their caregivers had a variety of motives for taking them in. Against the grain of many other narratives, Craig-Norton emphasizes the use of archival sources, many of them newly discovered testimonial accounts and letters from Kinder to their families. This documentary evidence together with testimonial evidence allows compelling insights into the nature of interactions between children and their parents and caregivers and shows readers a more nuanced and complete picture of the Kindertransport.
1. The Organizations
2. The Carers
3. The Children
4. The Parents
Conclusion: Contesting Memory
Full of fascinating, poignant material, and is carefully written and skillfully argued. The discovery of the Polenaktion Kinder files are an absolute treasure, giving us something that would otherwise be lost.
Rebecca Clifford, author of Commemorating the Holocaust
Throughout the book, Jennifer Craig-Norton demonstrates an extremely sensitive, nuanced approach to her source material, and its importance to Kinder and their families. She offers an important and convincing counter to redemptive accounts of the Kindertransport that have dominated both secondary literature and the popular imagination.
Shirli Gilbert, author of From Things Lost: Forgotten Letters and the Legacy of the Holocaust