Kindertransport refugee: I never saw my parents again after the Second World War

Author:Harry Bibring

Harry Bibring was relocated to the UK from Austria in the months before the Second World War.

He was one of nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children brought over as part of the Kindertransport rescue effort, which provided safety to youngsters from Nazi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the Free City of Danzig.

Many of those children, including Mr Bibring, would never see their parents again. Here the 92-year-old shares his moving story.

“The Nazis marched into Austria in March 1938 and then came Kristallnacht,” he says. “After that things became desperate, and my parents, up until then, did not think or talk about about emigrating or anything like that.”

Paramilitaries and civilians targeted Jewish-owned shops, buildings and synagogues on 9 November 1938.

Kristallnacht translates to the “Night of Broken Glass”, in reference to the shards of broken glass that littered the streets afterwards.

Mr Bibring says: “We were put under house arrest the day after the violence.

“We were in a stranger’s flat for about 10 days. My father was thrown into jail with 11 other Jews.

“They were locked up in a cell made for two convicts. We were all released and my mother and father talked to us.

“They said we now had to leave.”

Mr Bibring’s parents attempted to obtain visas to move the family from Vienna to Shanghai in China, but their efforts failed.

“I do believe that the cost of these tickets and visas was such that my father had to sell everything we owned,” he says.

“That took too long so it fell through.

“After that my father came up and told me and my sister, who was two years older than me, that there’s this scheme of the Kindertransport.

“At the time it was called the Central British Fund.”

Mr Bibring was relocated to a village near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, where he was lodged with the headmaster of a grammar school.

He says: “My carer was a very devout Christian and a strict disciplinarian, and he made sure that I spoke English properly.

“Something like in My Fair Lady. I would repeat again and again and again… until I got it right.

“When December 1938 came along I was 14. So that was the end of school.

“I went back to London with my English pretty good.”

When he left for the UK with his sister, Mr Bibring’s parents told them they would meet again in two months’ time.

He believed his mum and dad would be issued visas by the British Embassy because they had two children living in England.

Mr Bibring says: “They would say ‘the children were being looked after by strangers and were eventually going to be a burden on this country’.

“I imagined they would say ‘you don’t want that to happen, so please give us a visa’.”

But Mr Bibring never saw his parents again.

His mother was deported by Nazis to the Sobibor death camp in German-occupied Poland in 1942.

His father had died of a heart attack in 1940.

Mr Bibring says: “Beyond 1938 it became impossible for Kindertransport to effectively move people to safety.

“It was one of the great things this country has done. No other country did it.

“Many people say more should have been done. I have to agree with that.”

Mr Bibring stays in touch with other children who came to the UK as part of Kindertransport, and works with the Holocaust Educational Trust.

He says: “I speak in schools. I’ve covered over 600 schools so far, where I’ve told my story in the hope that I can fight against discrimination in future.”

Source: https://news.sky.com/story/kindertransport-refugee-i-never-saw-my-parents-again-after-the-second-world-war-11559597