The Kindertransport

The Kindertransport

Contesting Memory
Jennifer Wylegała
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 06/25/2019
ISBN: 978-0-253-04224-8
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Jennifer Craig-Norton sets out to challenge celebratory narratives of the Kindertransport that have dominated popular memory as well as literature on the subject. According to these accounts, the Kindertransport was a straightforward act of rescue and salvation, with little room for a deeper, more complex analysis. This volume reveals that in fact many children experienced difficulties with settlement: they were treated inconsistently by refugee agencies, their parents had complicated reasons for giving them up, and their caregivers had a variety of motives for taking them in. Against the grain of many other narratives, Craig-Norton emphasizes the use of newly discovered archival sources, which include the correspondence of refugee agencies, carers, Kinder and their parents and juxtaposes this material with testimonial accounts to show readers a more nuanced and complete picture of the Kindertransport. In an era in which the family separation of refugees has commanded considerable attention, this book is a timely exploration of the effects of family separation as it was experienced by child refugees in the age of fascism.

Author Bio

Jennifer Craig-Norton is an Honorary Fellow of the Parkes Institute for Jewish/non-Jewish Relations at the University of Southampton. She is editor (with Christhard Hoffman and Tony Kushner) of Migrant Britain: Histories and Historiographies: Essays in Honour of Colin Holmes.



Full of fascinating, poignant material, and is carefully written and skillfully argued. The discovery of the Polenaktion Kinder files are an absolute treasure, giving us something that would otherwise be lost.


 (Rebecca Clifford, author of Commemorating the Holocaust)


Throughout the book, Jennifer Craig-Norton demonstrates an extremely sensitive, nuanced approach to her source material, and its importance to Kinder and their families. She offers an important and convincing counter to redemptive accounts of the Kindertransport that have dominated both secondary literature and the popular imagination.


 (Shirli Gilbert, author of From Things Lost: Forgotten Letters and the Legacy of the Holocaust)

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Table of Contents



Manuscript Notes



1. The Organizations

2. The Carers

3. The Children

4. The Parents

Conclusion: Contesting Memory