Photo: Stephen A., born in Berlin, Germany in 1930, was part of the Kindertransport. Photo on left is taken from his passport, 1939. Photo on right: Stephen A., Seattle, 2004.
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Stephen (Steve) A. was born in Berlin, Germany in 1930. He was the younger son in a middle-class, Jewish family. At age 7, he was forced to leave his neighborhood school and to enter a Jewish private school.
Below is an excerpt from Steve’s testimony.
In November 1938, the Germans initiated a violent pogrom* during which they burned all the synagogues, looted thousands of stores owned by Jewish merchants and arrested 30,000 Jewish men. My Dad was one of these men arrested. He was taken to Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp in Germany, not far from Berlin, for six weeks.
I still recall Dad returning to Berlin and our apartment on a late December day. Now I know it was December 23, strangely the same day on which my wife and I got married 13 years later. I found that out from the Sachsenhausen KL Library and also that my father had been registered as a prisoner in Barracks 37. There were no records of what was done to him. I didn’t need to know. I saw the bruises, welts, and scabs, I smelled the stench on his body, and I saw the somber look on his face, a look that never completely left his face until his death in 1978 when he was 74 years old.
After his release in late December, my parents began arranging for my brother’s and my emigration. My parents submitted applications for both my brother and myself to go on the Kindertransport* to England. My application was selected but my brother’s was not. In March of 1939, my parents took me to a train station in Berlin for the trip to Hamburg. From there, I boarded a ship to Southampton, England, along with hundreds of other Jewish boys and girls. I didn’t know then whether I would see my family again….
In England I lived in a small house with a new family. I slept in an unheated attic room. In the spring of 1940, I was reunited with my brother, and that summer we met our mother and father again before traveling by ship to the United States in November 1940. However, my mother’s parents had to stay behind, and they were eventually deported to Riga, Latvia in 1942 where they were murdered.
Stephen A. is an active member of the Holocaust Center for Humanity’s Speakers Bureau.
*Pogrom—From the Russian word for “devastation”; an unprovoked attack or series of attacks upon a Jewish Community (Jewish Virtual Library).
*Kindertransport—Children’s Transport. As the situation for the Jewish people worsened in Eastern Europe, Great Britain agreed to allow 10,000 Jewish children from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia to immigrate to England. Private citizens or organizations had to guarantee to pay for each child's care, education, and eventual emigration from Britain. Parents or guardians could not accompany the children (USHMM).
More about Stephen:
"Survivor Voices" - Video clips of Stephen's testimony
Suggested resources related to Steve Adler’s story:
(Books and videos are available to borrow from the Holocaust Center for Humanity’s library.)
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's online encyclopedia
http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/ and type “kindertransport” into the search box in the upper right corner.
Drucker, Olga Levy. Kindertranport. NY: Henry Holt and Company, 1992. The author’s memoir of her experience during the war and with the kindertransport. (Nonfiction)
Fox, Anne L. and Eva Abraham-Podietz. Ten Thousand Children. NJ: Behrman House Inc., 1999.
True stories told by children who escaped the Holocaust on the Kindertransport. First person accounts. (Nonfiction)
Harris, Mark Jonathan and Deborah Oppenheimer. Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport. NY: Bloomsbury, 2000. First-hand testimonies of those who experienced the kindertransport. (Nonfiction)
“Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport.” Warner, 2000. PG. 117 mins. (video)
“My Knees Were Jumping.” (DVD)