A Princely Reception For Former Refugees


Seventy-five years ago Kurt Stern was among some 10,000 youngsters who came alone to England, from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, as part of the Kindertransport rescue mission that brought the children, mostly Jews, to homes of families, mostly non-Jews, in the United Kingdom.

This week, the rabbi, left, who eventually moved to Israel and raised his own family, was back in England, discussing his childhood experiences with Prince Charles in St. James Palace.

On the 75th anniversary of the government’s decision to open its doors to the endangered Jews, waiving immigration restrictions, the Prince of Wales hosted a reception in honor of a few hundred aging Kindertransport participants.

The prince spent two hours at the event, which was sponsored by the Association of Jewish Refugees. “It’s nice that the children keep the association going,” he said, according to the London Jewish Chronicle.

The guests thanked him for the country’s lifesaving decision — many of their parents who remained back in mainland Europe died in the Holocaust.

Prince Charles “was charming. He seems interested in everybody, and I was very impressed,” Joe Garten of Roslyn, L.I., who attended the reception with his fellow-refugee wife, Bea, told the Jewish Chronicle.

The reunion was billed as the last-such large gathering of the surviving Kindertransport members, most of whom are now in their 80s and 90s.

Among the guests at the prince’s reception were politician David Miliband, comedian Maureen Lipman and 104-year-old Nicholas Winton, who organized his own rescue effort for 669 Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.

An ongoing series of anniversary events are planned this year, including an academic symposium, a library exhibition, a meeting at London’s Jewish Free School, a re-enactment of the House of Commons debate that led to the Kindertransport, a tea in Parliament and a memorial service at Liverpool Street Station, where the children arrived.