Into The Arms Of Strangers: Stories Of The Kindertransport

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9780756779658: Into The Arms Of Strangers: Stories Of The Kindertransport

The companion to the Academy Award(r) winning feature documentary from Warner Bros.
For nine months before the outbreak of World War II, Britain conducted an extraordinary rescue mission. It opened its doors to over 10,000 endangered children-90 per cent of them Jewish-from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. These children were taken into foster homes and hostels in Britain, expecting eventually to be reunited with their parents. Most of the children never saw their families again.

Into the Arms of Strangers recounts the remarkable story of this rescue operation, known as the Kindertransport. It contains stories in their own words from the child survivors, rescuers, parents, and foster parents. The stories are heartbreaking, but they are also inspiring. These are the stories of those who survived with the help of others; they are stories about the strength and resolve of children; and most astonishing, these are stories not yet heard about the Holocaust.

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Review:

Between December 1938 and the outbreak of war in August 1939, some 10,000 children, the vast majority of them Jews, from Germany, Austria, Poland, and Czechoslovakia were evacuated to Great Britain. The stories of 18 witnesses to this Kindertransport--children, parents, and rescuers--are recounted in Into the Arms of Strangers.

These first-person accounts are woven into a loose narrative of life before the Nazi era, the transport, and life in their new homes. The editors wisely remain in the background, allowing the survivor testimony to shine through. Their experiences were diverse: some stayed behind, such as Norbert Wollheim, a Kindertransport organizer who refused a number of chances to escape from Germany, knowing that if he did, the transports would be stopped. Lory Cahn was actually on a train when her father pulled her off; he was unable to let her go. Those who made it to England found challenges of their own: some remained in hostels for the remainder of the war; some were taken in by families to work as cheap servant labor; still others were taken in by loving families, but then had to deal with "survivor's guilt."

Years after the war, Vera Gissing asked her foster father why he and his family had taken her in. He answered, "I knew I could not save the world. I knew I could not stop the war from starting. But I knew I could save one human life." Into the Arms of Strangers is a moving tribute to this remarkable event. --Sunny Delaney

About the Author:

Mark Jonathan Harris is a two-time Academy Award(r) winner, most recently for the 1997 Best Feature-Length Documentary, The Long Way Home. He is a professor and former chair of the Production Department of the USC School of Cinema/Television, a journalist, and the author of five award-winning children's novels.

Deborah Oppenheimer is the president of Mohawk Productions, a production company at Warner Bros. She is the executive producer of the television programs, The Drew Carey Show and Norm. Her mother was a Kindertransport survivor.

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