Close to 10.000 children emigrated to Great Britain via the children transports within nine months. The British government eased the existing entry requirements for children up to 17 years old and permitted entry without visa formalities. Dr. Martha Wertheimer from the Jewish Social Welfare – Children Transport Department – processed the applications. The Jewish Social Welfare also took care of the applications gathered by the Frankfurt Quakers. The Quakers in turn bundled the applications which had been gathered by Christian assistance centers, amongst which were the protestant branch offices of reverend Gruber and the catholic advice offices. When applications were bundled there was less of a chance that they would get lost in the bureaucracy. The British Home Office needed well prepared applications, and there was much which needed to be completed as part of this preparation process: a general application in order to be accepted together with the accompanying permit that the children would be cared for in England by the Refugee Children’s Movement (RCM); a health report; an unqualified confirmation from the tax department; numerous passport photos; a children’s passport; a guarantee from the British side, either from a help organization or a family, that they would accept a child. A 50-pound-guarantee was also required as of March 1939, which was intended to serve as a form of security for a child’s further migration when it turned 18 years old. All of these preparations took time. Jewish welfare organizations guaranteed children, who lacked such guarantees, until their funds were used up and new donations could be gathered, for example, from the Lord Baldwin Fund.
Based on an unwritten agreement the Quakers were responsible, within the Christian welfare centers, for the care of all those adults and children without a registered religion. But in reality they did not turn anyone away who asked for help. Thousands of children – Frankfurt was the collection point for the surrounding cities – traveled from the main railway station to Hoek van Holland. From there they traveled by ship to Harwich and continued onward with the train to Liverpool Railway Station in London. Dr. Martha Wertheimer from the Children Transport Department and Isidor Marx from the Jewish Orphanage accompanied the children on the train as did the Quakers Else Wüst and Elisabeth Mann. These had to be reliable chaperones, because someone who used his position as chaperone to escape himself jeopardized the entire operation. Trains left Frankfurt twice per month as of January 1939; there were three larger “children packages” in these trains as of May/June. There were often 500 children, sometime “only” 50. Tricks were used in order to also enable 18-year-old students from the “Jewish Training Center” to leave the country as part of the contingent of the children transports. The last train left Frankfurt on 31 August, because with the start of the war in September 1939, the borders were then closed
About Martha Wertheimer: Hanno Loewy (Editor): Martha Wertheimer,
In mich ist die große dunkle Ruhe gekommen, Frankfurt/Main 1996.
Helga Krohn (Editor): Vor den Nazis gerettet, Sigmaringen 1995.
Rebekka Göpfert: Der jüdische Kindertransport von Deutschland nach England
1938/1939, Frankfurt/Main/New York 1999 and
Rebekka Göpfert: Ich kam allein, München 1994.
Petra Bonavita: Quäker als Retter …, Stuttgart 2014, pages 116-141
Internet: Links to Jewish Social Care, office of
the protestant reverend Gruber, Refugee Children’s Movement