Hanna Singer (the girl with the doll)

Hanna (aged 10) arrived on the Kindertransport from Germany on 5 July 1939 with her twin brother Gerald. 

On arrival into London Liverpool Street, a snapshot of Hanna with long black braids clutching her doll was taken and has become one of iconic images from the time. 

Soon after arrival the twins were separated with Gerald sent first to a boys' school in Somerset and then to another in Surrey whilst Hanna went to a girls' school in Folkestone and was then evacuated to Shropshire

kindertransport, Hanna Singer and Gerald (Hans) Cohn

World Jewish Relief’s case files from the time chart their experiences in these schools with concern given to ensuring Gerald received Jewish education and noting that ‘girl seems very satisfied with her surroundings’, which Hanna assures us she was!

Hanna with her file

Hanna was extremely grateful to receive the files which opened up new insights into her brother's experience.  She said "I had not realised how many people had been taking an interest in his welfare,  from the family of his unofficial guardian hinting that they might welcome some help in dealing with their charge to the report from the welfare worker that Gerald had complained he found the correspondence course on Jewish history and practice “not very interesting”.  Details like these remind me of the struggle my brother sometimes had to come to terms with being sent, partly because of wartime evacuation, to a range of schools whereas I had a much easier life. But, of course, one still comes back to the contrast between the life of the Kinder and that of today’s refugees".

Gerald went on to become an insurance broker and later a tour guide with a particular love for and expertise on Scandinavia.  He was also a devotee of classical music and even organised chamber concerts himself in Hampstead. He died in July 2011 at the age of 83.

Hanna and Peter Singer

Hanna married Peter Singer, also a German Jewish refugee, and they had twin daughters Debbie and Helen.  Hanna became an English teacher and supported causes such as comprehensive education and anti-racist campaigns.  She died in April 2018 at the age of 89.

We are grateful to Hanna for allowing us to film her when she received the case files, which you can see in our film about the archives, and we feel extremely privileged to have spent time with her, her husband Peter and their family.