42 cyclists arrived in London in Friday having ridden 600 miles from Berlin. The riders followed the route taken by the Kindertransport rescue operation orchestrated by World Jewish Relief which saved 10,000 children from Nazi Europe 80 years ago.
80-year-old cyclist Paul Alexander was one of the youngest children to come on the Kindertransport. He has ridden the whole way with his son and grandson. Many of the riders include the children’s descendants retracing the journey taken by their parents and grandparents across Germany, Holland and the UK.
Paul Alexander was just 18 months old in 1939 when his mother put him into the arms of a volunteer nurse to be taken to the UK. Paul was cared for in a home with other children for three years before being reunited with his parents who managed to escape Germany before the war. He moved to Israel in the 1970s and completed the ride from Berlin to London with his son Nadav and grandson Daniel (14).
Paul said: “For me, this is a culmination, a vindication and a celebration of my life. 79 years ago I was sent as a child of one and a half from Germany – which was a country of persecution and hatred – to a country [the UK] where I found freedom and safety. That journey was the most significant I have ever made, and ever will make, in my whole life. It enabled me to live a normal life with my parents, after we were reunited.
“The journey that I’ve completed today is a victory over oppression and over everything that I was sent away from. I can’t think of a more poignant and meaningful thing than doing this with my son and grandson. This is my answer to Adolf Hitler. This is my chance to say thank you to World Jewish Relief for orchestrating the Kindertransport.”
World Jewish Relief’s Andrea Frankenthal who organised the bike ride said: “It was such an inspiration to see how much the riders put themselves through to commemorate this historical event. I spent the whole week in awe of their spirit and endurance and felt very privileged to be part of it. We are hugely grateful to them all and for the staggering amount of money they’ve raised for our programmes which will transform the lives of hundreds of vulnerable Jews in Eastern Europe.”
The cyclists began on Sunday, 17th June at Frank Meisler’s Kindertransport statue outside Berlin’s Friedrichstrasse Station and headed west through Germany and Holland covering approximately 100 miles each day. Crossing the Dutch border they stopped at the second Kindertransport statue at the Hook of Holland before boarding the overnight ferry and disembarking at Harwich, Essex. From Harwich they cycled to Liverpool Street Station and arrived at the third Kindertransport statue outside the station.
Why World Jewish Relief:
World Jewish Relief’s predecessor the Central British Fund for German Jewry (CBF) instigated and helped fund the Kindertransport movement that rescued 10,000 mostly Jewish children from Nazi occupied Europe between December 1938 and the eve of war in September 1939. Our work saving lives and giving assistance to refugees and Kindertransport children in the 1930s and 40s, informs everything we do now. We continue to help people who have been forced to leave their homes due to humanitarian disasters.
World Jewish Relief’s archives:
The Central British Fund helped rescue 65,000 people from Nazi-occupied Europe during the 1930s and 40s. Each new arrival received a Registration Card and records were kept detailing the continued financial and social support they received as they established new lives. World Jewish Relief recently digitised these archives in partnership with the London Metropolitan Archives and have made them available to family members for free. You can make an online enquiry here: worldjewishrelief.org/archives