Sanctuary80 Talk Series


Mayflower Heritage Centre - 11:30am

Mayflower Heritage Centre, George Street, next to Harwich Town Station.CO12 3NA


Hear from four speakers about a range of topics exploring the 80th anniversary of the arrival of the first Kindertransport refugees at Harwich in 1938 and what it means today. Includes an interactive theatre event, Stage 3, by Peoples Palace and Safe Passage’s National Campaign.


11.30am Welcome

11.40am Britain and the Kindertransport 1938-1940, by Barbara Warnock, from The Wiener Library.

12.10pm ‘From Hitler to Hi-de-Hi’, the role of the Dovercourt Holiday Camp in the first months of the Kindertransport, by Mike Levy is an educator with Holocaust Education Trust and holds a fellowship in Holocaust education from IWM

12.40pm 100 Images of Migration exhibition, presented by the Migration Museum, London.

1.00 Lunch

2.00pm Stage 3, drama and discussion by Peoples Palace and Safe Passage’s National Campaign.

2.30pm Time to explore the Harwich Station Museum

3.00pm Refugees in Historical Context and the 21st Century, by Martin Simmonds from The Suffolk Refugee Support

3.30pm Memory of the Kindertransports in national and transnational perspectives, by Amy Williams, Nottingham Trent University.

4.00pm Discussion and questions with the speakers.



Britain and the Kindertransport 1938-1940

Dr Barbara Warnock of The Wiener Library will draw upon the library’s rich archival collections to explain the origins and nature of the Kindertransport, the British programme to rescue 10,000 mainly Jewish children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and the Netherlands from the Nazi threat. The presentation will explore the circumstances in which the programme was launched, the work of the Jewish and other community groups that organised and funded it, and reflect upon some of the experiences of the Kindertransportees themselves.


The Wiener Library, London, is a partner on the Harwich Haven: Surrender to Sanctuary project. It is the world’s oldest archive of material on the Nazi era and the Holocaust.


Barbara Warnock obtained her PhD from Birkbeck College, University of London in 2016. Her research focussed upon interwar Austria. She is the Education and Outreach Manager for The Wiener Library, where she curates their exhibitions and organises the education and events programme. She was a history teacher for many years.


Martin Simmonds is Communications Officer with Suffolk Refugee Support, an independent charity who have provided specialist advice and practical support to refugees and asylum seekers in Suffolk for nearly 20 years. Through talks and presentations at events such as Holocaust Memorial Day and the Sanctuary 80 series, SRS are keen to place today’s refugee situations in a historical context, from Huguenots to Syrians, and to draw links between the way refugees have been viewed and the language used to discuss them past and present.


Amy Williams is a PhD researcher in History at Nottingham Trent University, financed by the Midlands4Cities AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership. She is working on a study of the Memory of the Kindertransports in National and Transnational Perspective, exploring the way the Kindertransports have been represented in novels, museums, memorials, testimony and autobiography.


Memory of the Kindertransports in national and transnational perspectives:

This talk sets out to present an overview of the different national and transnational memories of the Kindertransports. Kindertransports is understood here as referring not just to the actual rescue of children with Jewish origins from Nazism (1938-1940), but also its effects such as transplantation to strange environments. There is yet to be a true comparison of how the host nations – Britain, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – received the Kinder and integrated them, and of how the memories of the Kinder and the nations’ memories of the Kindertransports developed. A comparison of these various host countries will reveal that memory of the Kindertransports is not uniform, but shaped by national factors such as the role of these countries in the Second World War, their postwar political, economic and social development, social and cultural policies towards refugees, and nationally conditioned memory discourses. However, no memory is entirely nationally bounded. Increasingly, Holocaust memory operates in a transnational, even global network. Therefore, the specific interaction of such global memory with national memory patterns in the case of the Kindertransports will be central to this talk. Moreover, it is important to examine the relationship between the national and transnational because each host nation approaches the topic of the Kindertransports differently. For some host nations present the Kindertransports in national terms with transnational elements while other host nations see the transnational perspective more clearly. However, although some host nations may be more self-critical than others, it is not to say that we should assume that these host nations inevitably depict a more complex or comprehensive narrative of the Kindertransports. For it is also possible that the transnational narrative becomes renationalised, thus some national memories may compete with one another. On the other hand, the greater awareness the host countries have of the transnational history of the transports the more they are open to discuss the complexities.


‘From Hitler to Hi-de-Hi’, the role of the Dovercourt Holiday Camp in the first months of the Kindertransport.

From December 1938, Warner’s holiday camp in Dovercourt served as the main transit camp for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Jewish children fleeing from Nazi persecution. Examples of warm welcome from Harwich people mingle with sadder tales of freezing cabins and anxiety over lost parents and family. Dovercourt was a place of life-changing events and incredible stories which have no less power eighty years on.


Mike Levy is a teacher, journalist, playwright and Holocaust educator. He is an educator with Holocaust Education Trust and holds a fellowship in Holocaust education from IWM.  Mike is currently working towards a part-time PhD on the work of wartime refugee committees in Cambridge and the East of England. For ten years he has run a series of community history projects which culminate in exhibitions and plays. These range from the Basque children’s hostels, the Dovercourt refugee camp, veterans of the merchant navy, the life of Thomas Paine and the Anders Army (for which he received a medal of honour from the Polish government). In 2015 he was instrumental in running the project on the pre-war Dovercourt camp with students from Harwich and Dovercourt School: the resulting exhibition is permanently displayed at the Redoubt.


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