There she stands at Liverpool Street

Friday, 30th January 2009 at 9:00 UTC 2 comments

Either I’ve forgotten it, or I’ve simply never gotten round to writing about one place in London that really inspires me. Outside Liverpool Street station stands a bronze statue of a small girl, passed by hundreds of thousands each day, and yet I as I stand by her, I wonder at how few must even realise she’s there. She is memorial to the Kindertransport, and she always reminds me of the amazing things humans can achieve.

Its hard to imagine a situation today where a lone business man would be allowed to take charge of 667 children from one country, put them on trains, or I suppose coaches or planes, and move them to another country. But that’s exactly what the Kindertransport represents.

But in the face of the approaching Nazi forces pushing across Europe, whilst taking a business trip to then Czechoslovakia, Nicholas Winton realised the enormity of what was about to happen, and sought a way to rescue Jews and others from the peril of the oncoming Nazi forces. This was long before many in Britain actually knew just how bad the concentration camps would be, but for three weeks he worked tirelessly to arrange a train load of children and youth to travel to London.

A total of 10,000 children were moved in the Kindertransport, mostly by the efforts of British Jewish leaders. To bring that many to Britain today would be seen as an outrage. With more wars, more starvation and diseases, we can hardly imagine the idea of bringing, for instance, a cruise ship of Zimbabwean kids to Britain. And yet, as much as we can look back and say “oh, but we know the terrible fate they would have succumbed to”, people generally didn’t at the time. The Nazi’s hated the Jews, but the final solution was only really understood by the general British populace much later.

And so every time I pass through Liverpool Street and I’m not in a massive hurry, I stop at the statue and spend a moment contemplating the enormity of the challenge that so very few people undertook, and the enormous difference they were able to create in the lives of so many. It turns out we humans are capable of a lot when we can be bothered to try.

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Entry filed under: Europe, Freedom, History, Immigration, Racism.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kærast  |  Friday, 30th January 2009 at 10:53 UTC

    But does she sing do wah diddy diddy dum diddy doo?

    Reply
  • 2. Ruth  |  Saturday, 21st February 2009 at 13:20 UTC

    Without Kindertransport I would never have been born. It saved my Grandma and her family, meaning she was able to grow up in England and later meet my Grandpa.

    Reply

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