While parents tried desperately to keep up with the details of their children’s lives, their own news was full of their attempts to emigrate. Often, they even asked their children for help.
‘We keep making application after application to all the world, most especially to England but we probably go about it in an inept way as we haven’t had any success yet…if by chance you should happen to come across somebody who strikes you as a good person, perhaps you could ask him or her to find us a job …’
Letter from Erna Stein to Gerda Stein 28.4.39, translated by Gerda Mayer (Stein). Wiener Library Collections.
The lucky ones
It wasn’t just adults who struggled to emigrate. Some children were all too aware of how lucky they had been to secure a place on the Kindertransport. While some didn’t make it onto the transports because of the vast numbers of children waiting, others were rejected because of the strict criteria imposed by the British state. One of those was Gisella Eisner’s younger brother, Helmut, who was rejected because of his ‘difficult’ character.
Prague, 18th May 1939,
I don’t have much prospect of going to England. I have registered in the Rubeshowa with Mr Chadwick, but all the Jewish children in Prague are registered there. I hardly think I’ll get my turn. If only I could get to England at least by the summer. When are you having your main holidays?
Letter from Suse Kraus, aged 12, to Gerda Stein, translated by Gerda Mayer. Suse later died in Auschwitz along with her mother and sister. Wiener Library Collections.
Prague, 30th June 1939
Just imagine, Susi and Hansi were supposed to go to England. They were already in line. And then, today, theyw ere invited to come to Mr Chadwick’s office and were told that it would be impossible because there are many poor children whom one must accommodate first….
Letter from Erna Stein to Gerda Stein, translated by Gerda Mayer. Wiener Library Collections.
… Don’t ever forget that many thousands of your coreligionists no older than yourself are undergoing very sad times, so don’t waste yours … I don’t hear much that is new from Prague, your parents seem to have lost courage somewhat because all their attempts have been in vain…
Letter to Gerda Stein from her uncle Paul Eisenberger, translated by Gerda Mayer. Wiener Library Collections.