The Kindertransport has long been interpreted as a heroic response to the refugee crisis of the 1930s and has recently re-entered the British national conversation as a model to be applied to the current Middle East refugee crisis. Kinder case files are utilized to argue that an unambiguously celebratory narrative is a misreading of the Kindertransport, especially when considering the plight of parents who had to make agonizing choices to send their children away. The majority of Kinder were never reunited with their families after the war, and even those who were suffered various traumas related to their long estrangement. An examination of the fate of parents and siblings who were not welcomed to Britain suggests that it is a mistake to call for the reimplementation of the Kindertransport on any scale to respond to the wave of religious and political refugees currently crossing into Europe in large numbers.
Dr Jennifer Craig-Norton is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Parkes Institute, University of Southampton. She has published several articles on the Kindertransport and is working on a book about the child refugee movement. Her current research concerns the more than 20,000 Jewish refugees who came to Great Britain as domestic servants and trainee nurses in the late 1930s.