Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Kindertransport records on FindmyPast

From FindmyPast (www.findmypast.co.uk):

“Kindertransport” records of Jewish child refugees to Britain now online for the first time for Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January

Digitised records from Findmypast tell the story of young Jewish children, who sought refuge in Britain at the outbreak of the Second World War

Lists of refugees, British government correspondence and official reports offer incredible insights into the experiences of these children in Britain

Records reveal what they ate, the clothes they wore and the games they played

London, UK, 27 January 2015 – Leading family history website, Findmypast.co.uk, has today on Holocaust Memorial Day released over 1,500 passenger list records and 41 volumes from The National Archives relating to the Kindertransport refugee programme during the Second World War. These fully searchable scanned documents are a digital facsimile of the files kept by central government to record the details of the thousands of young Jewish refugees, sent to Britain to escape Nazi persecution.

Kindertransport was the name given to a series of informal rescue efforts by various groups and individuals that successfully evacuated around 10,000 children to Great Britain between 1938 and 1940. Following the events of Kristallnacht on the night of 9/10 November 1938, where Jewish properties and businesses in Germany were destroyed, a delegation of British Jewish and Quaker leaders appealed in person to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Neville Chamberlain, requesting that the British government permit the temporary admission of unaccompanied Jewish children.

The first Kinder (the German word for children) arrived in Harwich by boat on 2 Dec 1938. They were 200 children from a Jewish orphanage in Berlin destroyed on Kristallnacht. Most children travelled by train from Berlin, Vienna or Prague. Jewish organisations inside the German Reich selected children and planned the transport on the German side – orphans and children of those in concentration camps were prioritised.

These children were placed in British foster homes, hostels, schools and farms. Often they were the only members of their families who survived the Holocaust. A number of older Kinder went on to join the British Army and fight against Germany later in the war.


The Kindertransport records are mainly passenger lists telling you the name of the child, their birth date and place, the date they departed Germany, name of the ship they travelled on and their arrival port in the UK. You can search by place of birth – these include Austria, Poland, Armenia, Switzerland, and even Ontario – but mainly towns in Germany.

There are 41 browsable documents in this collection including: minutes of the War Cabinet legislation committee and a copy of the Guardianship (Refugee Children) Bill draft; documents from the Education Department & Board of Education on the problems faced by gifted Jewish Kindertransport schoolchildren progressing to higher education facing financial problems and an enquiry from the German government on the well-being of German internees.

Arrival in the UK

Once in the UK, children without sponsors were housed in a summer camp in Dovercourt Bay in Essex and other facilities until foster families could be found. Detailed reports on the Dovercourt camp can be found within the collection and provide remarkable insights into what daily life was like for the children staying there.

COMMENT: The records are sourced from the National Archives in England (www.nationalarchives.co.uk), but FindmyPast has only given vague references for the exact holdings in their 'about' section on the collection, simply noting on their site that they are held within the War Cabinet (CAB), Foreign Office (FO), Home Office (HO), Education (ED), Health (MH), and Security Service (KV) collections at the archive. However, a full reference does appear to be given for each return when you do a search. It would certainly help to see detailed list up front, so that those interested in the collection can see what is included, and what is not.

(With thanks to Alex Cox)


For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at www.scotlandsgreateststory.co.uk.

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