Posts tagged ‘Diane Samuels’

November, 2013

A conversation on Kindertransport, by Diane Samuels

Today’s post is a conversation on Kindertransport, by Diane Samuels, currently in production in the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts, between Rose Whyman, Tom Mansfield (director) and Zoe Baum, Georgina Brehaut, Daniel Burke, Lorna Newman, Harriet Redfern and Hayley Robinson: 

How aware you were of the Kindertransport and its scale before working on the play?

Tom: I first became aware of the Kindertransport when I saw the play for the first time several years ago. Prior to having seen the play, I’d had no idea about the existence of the Kindertransport, never mind its scale, so for me this was a great example of how drama can be used to make the audience aware of a historical event or issue.

Zoe: I am Jewish and for as long as I can remember I have known about the Holocaust but much less about Kindertransport.

Harriet: It was the play that introduced me to it.

Daniel: My understanding of the scale of the operation has grown as a result of working on the play.


What do you think the significance of the play is today? 

Tom: In a sense the play is about every child forced to abandon their home by conflict, natural disaster and economic necessity. The discrimination that Eva is faced with is a real experience for many newly arrived children and adults in this country. As Helga, Eva’s mother, points out, the story is experienced ‘not only by our ancestors but as if it happened to us. Not legend but truth’. While we must not forget the evils that led to the Kindertransport, it is equally important to remember that comparable experiences are taking place as we speak.

Zoe: 75 years on we are reaching a time where the Kindertransport generation are sadly dying. This play is a way of representing the survivor stories so that younger generations can learn about the Holocaust.


Is it important for historical events to be used as subject matter for plays and what the problems/ possibilities are? 

Hayley: Definitely – it is important to learn not only about the terrible events of the war but also the good actions by ordinary people that saved hundreds of lives.

Tom: Seeing the play may encourage audience members to do more detailed research into the history; it seems to me though that our primary responsibility in telling this story is to create something that communicates how the Kindertransport was experienced emotionally.


How do you think the experience would have been for children and young people? 

Lorna: The experience of Kindertransport may have been frightening and overwhelming, though children do bounce back.

Georgina: Some of the children were excited, as they did not know at that point that they were not going to see their parents again.


How you are approaching the emotional demands of the roles? 

Georgina: I have found it helpful to research current political issues in order to try to understand what is happening to the children –just seeing the terror occurring in places like Syria and seeing photos of pure devastation.


Kindertransport will be performed in the Department of Drama and Theatre Studies (5th – 7th December 2013)


November, 2013

The Kindertransport in History and Memory. Rose Whyman and Isabel Wollaston

Rose Whyman and Isabel Wollaston

Over the next three weeks the University hosts a series of events marking the 75th anniversary of the Kindertransport (children’s transports), which enabled c10,000 unaccompanied children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and the Polish Corridor to enter Britain. The first transport from Nazi Germany arrived in early December 1939; the last arrived from the Netherlands in May 1940:Image

 a)     Two evening lectures co-run with Mosaic: The Birmingham Society for Jewish Society and the research project Birmingham Perspectives on Jewish Heritage and Culture. Aubrey Newman will speak on  The Kindertransport in Retrospect (18th November, ERI G51, 7.30pm), and Caroline Sharples on British Memory and Representation of the Kindertransport (ERI G51, 7.30pm);

b)    An afternoon workshop on The Holocaust in History and Memory, 70 Years On (4th December) explores personal, historical, museological and pedagogical perspectives. Lia Lesser discusses her experience as a child arriving in Britain on a transport from Prague organised by Nicholas Winton; Andrea Hammel (University of Aberystwyth) focuses on ‘Controversies in recent research on the Kindertransport’; Marissia Fragkou (Canterbury Christchurch University) on ‘Precarious children and youth on the British stage; and James Griffiths (The Holocaust Centre, Beth Shalom) on ‘The Journey – an educational and museological perspective’ 

c)     A production of Diane Samuels’ Kindertransport will be performed by the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts (5th – 7th December). The play tells the story of nine year old Eva, a Kindertransport child who comes to Manchester and builds a new life and new identity. Years later, her own daughter finds out about the war-time events Eva has suppressed and kept hidden. Though a fiction, the play is based on actual experiences. Diane Samuels will introduce the performance on the opening night, and conduct a Q & A session after the performance. Workshops for schools will aim to find ways to engage children and young people with the subject.


 The project is a new collaboration between the Departments of Drama and Theatre Arts and Theology and Religion, which seeks to explore the relationship, and tensions, between ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ narratives, historical experience, memory and commemoration of the Kindertransports, the way memory and representation of the Kindertransport evolves over time, as do the meanings attached to them. As academics, we are excited about the use of drama in history and memory studies and its potential, in this project, to encourage examination by academics, students, and children and adults, of the Kindertransport phenomenon, which has been largely overlooked for many years but is now the subject of increasing attention. The Kindertransports remain a complex, contested phenomenon, raising key strategic, political, ethical, theoretical and practical questions relating to, amongst other issues, the strengths and weakness of British immigration policy, the role and effectiveness of the NGOs, religious and secular organizations involved in both the rescue operation and caring for the Kinder once they arrived, whether the Kinder were ‘merely’ refugees or were also survivors of the Holocaust, how the Kindertransports should be commemorated, memorialized and represented and by whom (e.g., on stage and in literature, in on film, in memorials, museums).

The Kindertransport in history and memory – resources:


  • Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport (dir. Mark Jonathan Harris, 2000)
  • Nicky’s Family (dir. Matej Mináč, 2011)
  • The Kindertransport Story (BBC1, 06.04.09)



  • Anne Fox and Eva Abraham-Podietz , Ten Thousand Children: True Stories Told by Children Who Escaped the Holocaust on the Kindertransport (West Orange, 1999)
  • Karen Gershon (ed.), We Came as Children: A Collective Autobiography of Refugees (London, 1989)
  • Bertha Leverton (ed.), I Came Alone: The Stories of the Kindertransports (Brighton, 1996)
  • Mark Jonathan Harris and Deborah Oppenheimer, Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport (London, 2000)
  • Stephen D Smith (ed.), Our Lonely Journey: Remembering the Kindertransports (Kirton, 1999)
  • Muriel Emanuel and Vera Gissing, Nicholas Winton and the Rescued Generation, Third Revised Edition (London, 2003)


  • Diane Samuels, Kindertransport (London, 1995)

 Secondary literature:

  • Andrea Hammel and Bea Lewkowicz (eds.), The Kindertransport to Britain 1938/39: New Perspectives, Yearbook of the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies, Volume 13 (2012), (Amsterdam, 2012)
  • Judith Tydor Baumel-Schwartz, Never Look Back: Jewish Refugee Children in Great Britain, 1938-1945 (West Lafayette, 2012)
  • Vera Fast, Children’s Exodus: A History of the Kindertransport (London, 2011)
  • Barry Turner, … And the Policeman Smiled: 10,000 Children Escape from Nazi Europe (London, 1990)
  • Karen van Coevorden, ‘“The Journey”: a unique approach to Holocaust education’ in Maggie Andrews (ed.), Lest We Forget: Remembrance and Commemoration (Stroud, 2011): 175-80

 Blog images:

 Statue image attribution: By Wjh31 (Own work – [CC-BY-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

 Statues by night: By Hajog (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


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