Pomnik Kindertransportów w Gdańsku. Fot. Avi1111 dr. avishai teicher, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Monument to the Kindertransports in Gdansk. Commemorates the transports of Jewish children to England

The Kindertransports Monument is located in the city centre of Gdańsk, next to the Gdańsk Główny railway station. It commemorates the transports of Jewish children to England, organised by the Jewish community before World War II from Nazi-occupied areas. It was made by Danzig-born Frank Meisler, a participant in the last of the transports on 25 August 1939. His parents perished in Auschwitz.

As a result of anti-Semitism, four transports of Jewish children, whose parents were unable to leave the German-dominated city, left the Free City of Danzig by rail between 3 May and 25 August 1939. Thanks to the organisation of the trips and the reception of the children by British families, 130 young Danzigers avoided death. The designer of the memorial, Israeli sculptor Frank Meisler, was born in Danzig in 1929 and was rescued as a ten-year-old child on one of the Kindertransports; his parents were soon killed by the Nazis.

Frank Meisler (born 30 December 1929 in Danzig, died 24 March 2018 in Tel Aviv), designer of the memorial. Photo by Herbert Bishko commissioned by the Meisler Gallery, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The monument is set up on Podwale Grodzkie Street, in front of the Gdańsk Główny railway station from which the children departed. The monument depicts three girls and two boys of different ages with suitcases and schoolbags, waiting on the platform for a train to arrive. At their feet are a section of railway track and plaques with the names of other towns from where the children left their families, often forever. Another memorial in the series is in Berlin, which was a transit station on this journey, and also in the Netherlands, where the children boarded ships. Another memorial by the same author was unveiled in 2005 at London’s Liverpool Street Station, where their journey ended.

Kindertransport monument in Gdansk. Photo avi1111 dr. avishai teicher, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The monument was unveiled on 6 May 2009. – 70 years after the start of the action – in the presence of several surviving Kindertransport participants, including the artist Frank Meisler. In June 2017, the monument was damaged, with the boy’s statue partially torn from its pedestal having to be repaired. Due to planned modernisation work on the Main Station building and its surroundings, the statue and the remaining elements were dismantled in 2019 for fear of damage. After the major renovation was completed, the statue was unveiled again in 2023.

Pomnik Kindertransportów
Children of Polish Jews upon arrival in London on the ship “Warsaw”. February, 1939. Photo Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S69279 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons

Britain took in almost 10,000 Jewish children from Nazi Germany and the occupied or threatened territories of Austria, Czechoslovakia, the Free City of Danzig and Poland. The children were placed in British foster families, care homes and on farms. Overall, the operation can be assessed positively, as most of the children included survived the war. Only a small proportion of them managed to find their own families, having managed to survive the Holocaust in hiding or surviving in concentration camps. However, the vast majority of children lost their homes and families forever.

Source: gdansk.gedanopedia.pl, dzieje.pl

Read also: Great Britain | History | Sculpture | Gdańsk | Interesting facts

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