On Dec. 1, 1938, a train full of Jewish children left Germany for England: They were the first of 10,000 whom the kindertransport movement saved from almost certain death in Germany, Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Knowing that war was
inevitable, the English government made European Jews a heartbreaking offer (still a better offer than anyone else was making): It would issue visas to Jewish children -- from toddlers to teenagers -- and shelter them until the fighting was over, but wouldn't open its borders to Jewish adults
seeking to flee escalating Nazi persecution. Filmmaker Melissa Hacker's mother, Ruth Morley, was one of those children, and one of the fortunate 10 percent who ever saw her parents again. Through interviews, photographs and archival footage, Hacker's documentary examines the experiences of her
mother (who, after the war, moved to the U.S. and became a costume designer whose credits range from THE MIRACLE WORKER to TOOTSIE) and other survivors of the kindertransports, as well as their grown children, raised in peace and prosperity and haunted by dreams of the Gestapo and Hitler.
At a reunion of kindertransport children, Morley and other survivors speak eloquently of their experiences in England, of feeling distanced from Holocaust survivors because "nothing happened to us," and of the ways in which they tried to shield their children from the darkness that
swallowed their own childhood. Hacker's film isn't polished, and her own voice-overs are heartfelt but amateurish. But the grown kindertransport children speak for themselves. Morley, whose interviews are marked by both candor and her wry sense of humor, vividly describes her family's
reluctance to leave Vienna and the endless paperwork and government approvals that stalled them when they tried. "That's when they rounded up the Jews," she says. "When they were standing on line."
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- Released: 1998
- Rating: NR
- Review: On Dec. 1, 1938, a train full of Jewish children left Germany for England: They were the first of 10,000 whom the kindertransport movement saved from almost certain death in Germany, Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Knowing that war was inevitable, the… (more)