If only we were together again

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.



Reply to Lilli Jacobsohn from the president of the Rotary club, her sponsors, regarding her parents. They were unable to get to England, and were both murdered in the Holocaust. Wiener Library collections.




Letter from Berthold Majer, Ilse Majer Williams’ father, to a Mr Ziffrin in New York. One of many in his attempt to get a visa for him and his wife, both of whom later perished in the Holocaust. Wiener Library collections.




Letter from Arno Jacobius, another child at Whittingehame school, to the Scottish National Council for Refugees, 7th April 1940. Wiener Library Collections


Reply to Arno from Scottish Council for Refugees, 11th April 1940. Arno’s mother, who was also foster mother to Ramon Gartner, perished in the Holocaust. 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.


Internal Home Office communication, August 1939. National Archives.


Top to bottom: Helmut, Heinz (who also made it to England and changed his name to Stephen Dale) and Gisela Spanglet, 1930. Courtesy, Harriet Eisner and Caroline Dale.


Gisela and Helmut in 1938, the year she left to go to England. Courtesy, Harriett Eisner and Caroline Dale.


Katowitz, 27.VI.39

… 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.