Just a note to say that now the exhibition opening and related events are over, I’m taking a week off – to walk our dogs somewhere beautiful while there’s still some warmth and sunshine in the air, to spend time with friends and family, to cook some simple, tasty food, and to find a good series to binge watch of an evening as the evenings grow that bit shorter…
Warm wishes to all – and I’ll be back in about a week.
A couple of families who have only recently joined the Kitchener project have asked what form the exhibition will take, so I’ll do my best to outline things here. If you’ve read previous posts on this (like this one, for example: http://www.kitchenercamp.co.uk/exhibition-permissions/) there’ll be something else along soon, but I wanted to give new families a chance to catch up with where we’ve got to.
We have commissioned a professional designer who works with museums and institutions – who will draw on some of the materials we have been given permission to use for these purposes by our contributing families.
They will select examples from among our many letters, documents, and photographs to tell the broad history of the Kitchener camp rescue.
Some examples of ‘traveling exhibitions’ were posted up here a little while ago, such as the ones shown in the links below, but I know not everyone will have seen those earlier posts.
The aim is to tell the wider history of the rescue – rather than individual histories, as the website does – although people who see the exhibition will hopefully come to the website for more information about the individuals involved – our fathers and grandfathers.
This is a ‘traveling exhibition’ being created among families on a small budget – so please don’t expect to see a stand that focuses on ‘your father’s history’ specifically. There are well over 300 pages on the website, covering many, many Kitchener men. Even USHMM couldn’t mount an exhibition of that scope – and we are obviously not in the same league as USHMM! 😄
A key part of the opening event day on 1st September is as much the opportunity to gather together and to participate in talks and workshops as it is about the exhibition itself.
The history of this remarkable rescue, which was organised and funded by remarkable and generous people, is now being told in more places and to more people.
Together, we have achieved something extraordinary with this project, in a very short period of time. And of course, it continues to grow.
The Kitchener history is becoming better known and better understood – among educators, researchers, and most importantly, among families. And our ‘small but perfectly formed’ (!) traveling exhibition will be one part of this process.
Our 300 pages of collective, collaborative research on this website form the main historical material – and this will remain the case wherever the exhibition may travel and whoever may see it. In addition – literally week by week, at a rate that I sometimes struggle to keep up with – the historical information collected here is increasing. There has probably never been anything quite like this before.
We’ve achieved something amazing here among us – and I hope those who can make it to see the exhibition on its opening day will enjoy event, the company, and the experience of being part of this incredible experience of ‘making history’ together.
The Jewish Museum auditorium has a maximum capacity of 80 people.
Therefore, there is a maximum of two adult tickets and two student / child tickets per booking for the time being.
It might be possible to open this out further, but we hope you understand that our priority must be Kitchener families and contributors.
Please note: The afternoon event is not really aimed at children, so please do take this into consideration when booking. Older children might be interested in talks and workshops, but younger ones may be more interested in the free-to-view morning exhibition only.
The Kitchener exhibition will be set up in the auditorium of the Jewish Museum in London.
It will be free to view in the morning and open to the general public.
You do not need to purchase a ticket to view the exhibition in the morning – this is open to the public, and no ticket is needed. Tickets are only required if you wish to stay for the lunch, talks, and workshops.
Hope to see lots of you there at some point in the day!
The US KDG (Kitchener Descendant Group) will each say something about their family history, there will be a group photograph, and a blog will follow to tell the rest of us ‘Kitchener Kids’ all about this amazing event
We wish we could be with you (of course!) – but instead, I’m sending a terribly un-British HUGE HUG from Blighty to America!
Kitchener descendants in North America
I have mentioned recently that in any spare moment I am going through the many ships’ passenger lists, line by line, trying to find out how many Kitchener men (and their families in some instances) managed to successfully transmigrate.
If I tell you that we have already passed the logging of 600 successful transmigrations – you’ll start to understand one reason why today’s meeting is so significant – both to those families involved, but also to our wider Kitchener camp project.
On the website is a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page. There are instructions here on how to ascertain whether the name of a relative or other relevant person is included among over 65,000 names that will be engraved on the walls of the memorial.
There are also instructions for what to do if a name is not included.
There is a definition used by the DÖW for deciding which names are to be included.
Attention is also drawn to the website page headed “The Names”.
The names were gathered as part of an assignment by the Austrian Government in 1995 – by the Dokumentationsarchiv des Österreichischen Widerstandes, also known as the DÖW (Documentation Archive of the Austrian Resistance). This is an institute for historical research. It took the DÖW twelve years to complete the task. The names are held in a DÖW database.
The preparatory work – which is required at the Ostarrichi Park site before construction can begin – has been underway for several months. It is hoped that the memorial will be completed by September 2020. The public inauguration should take place in October 2020. Further news will be posted on the memorial website.
With best regards,
Initiator of the Shoah Wall of Names Memorial in Vienna
Ramsgate Montefiore Heritage (RMH) www.ramsgatemontefioreheritage.co.uk is hosting a talk about Kitchener camp by Professor Clare Ungerson, author of Four Thousand Lives: The Rescue of German Jewish Men to Britain, 1939.
This is part of a regular programme of talks relating to Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore, their synagogue, and the town of Ramsgate, which is situated just a few miles east of Kitchener camp.
You may recall that the KDG hosted a visit last year to the tiny but very beautiful Montefiore synagogue.
The RMH notes that members of the camp not only visited Ramsgate but also attended services at the synagogue. Some were married there by the minister of the time – the Rev. Pereira.
The Heritage society says: We are seeking photos of members of the camp visiting Ramsgate and of Kitchener men at the synagogue.
I am starting to put together a page about the recent Kitchener exhibition and the plaque unveiling. I’m so sorry for the delay in doing this, but as many of you know, I haven’t been too well recently. I also have lots of new contacts that we’ve been receiving over the last few weeks, which I need to catch up with. Anyway – we’ll get there!
In the meantime, one of the emails I received gave some information about Rabbi Broch, whom I have written about previously: he was one of the two Kitchener camp rabbis.
The email reads: “Rabbi Broch later became rabbi in bournemouth; his son lived in Hendon and died about 15 years ago. Perhaps Bournemouth shul would have information. I know he authored a few books and remember seeing on the flyleaf a biographical excerpt about him”.
If anyone is willing / able to follow any of this up either with Bournemouth shul, or in the records, or if anyone has one of the books referred to here, I would be very pleased to receive anything you might be able to find out.
So sorry to be absent for a few days, but I am taking some much-needed time to rest.
I will be back on form and answering email queries as soon as I can.
In the meantime, if you can access the BBC, you might want to tune into tonight’s Antiques Roadshow at 8pm to see Dan Herman – who was a very young child in Kitchener camp with his father, Siegfried Hermann.
A very kind and helpful chap called Matt, from the BBC, first contacted me some months ago about this, and asked whether we had had a contact from anyone who had actually been in Kitchener – who might work with them towards tonight’s programme, which is all about the outbreak of war.
Many of you who have been at the various Kitchener events will have met Dan – and I know you will be looking forward to hearing what he has to say tonight as much as I am.
To add to the interest, tonight’s programme is at least partly filmed in the tunnels at Dover Castle where the Dunkirk evacuation was organised, which is, of course, another part of our shared Kitchener history.
Below – a quick update before I get on the road for our rather circuitous route to end up in London for the exhibition.
And a very small ‘sneak-peak’ of the title section of our first exhibition banner! 👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻
As many of you will have seen, we had a wonderful piece of media coverage for the Kitchener history this weekend following a recent contact by Harriet Sherwood of The Guardian and Observer newspapers. It was all thanks to the hard work of Rebecca Singer at World Jewish Relief, who contacted Harriet on our behalf.
Harriet emailed and asked if she could also speak with some descendants. We put her in touch with Stephen and Paul who work so hard on our committee. They have put in countless hours to help bring the KDG events together, and I hope this helped make all their hard work feel worthwhile.
Anyway, I was delighted to see their fathers’ histories made it into the article, as did some fabulous images from Kitchener families who had given consent for their images to be shared.
This all happened very suddenly over the last week, and rather caught me on the hop in the middle of trying to ensure everything is ready for our exhibition opening, but what an incredible thing to happen.
I’m so sorry that the website is probably running very slowly at the moment: it was never set up for national news coverage. Over the last 24 hours we’ve had approaching 5,000 views, so it’s a little crazy here.
Rather wonderfully, we’ve also heard from four new Kitchener families already, one of whom has just arranged in lightning-fast time to join us in Sandwich, which is fantastic.
If you have nipped out to buy the newspaper version of the Observer as a keepsake, you will have seen already that our little history has been drawn on as the lead-in to their coverage next week to commemorate 80 years since the declaration of war.
So next weekend will probably bring another batch of new readers to the project, because it is likely that the Kitchener article will be linked to again.
You’ll have to forgive me for a short while if I can’t do much to reply to individual emails, but I do look forward to saying hello to as many people as possible on Sunday.
As you all know, the exhibition is intended as both a tool for education, and as a commemoration of the rescue of our fathers and grandfathers who were at Kitchener camp. I sincerely hope you will feel in the end that what I have pulled together over the last few months from our materials will do justice to our history and to our families.
I have never been so nervous in my life…
For people attending the exhibition opening, a programme should come out to you in the next 24-36 hours.
Many Kitchener descendants have written to me recently to say thank you for my work on the Kitchener project.
It is of course always lovely to receive thanks – and this is very much appreciated.
However, I think it’s important to add that from the start the Kitchener camp project has always been about all of us Kitchener families.
If I’d sat here at my desk and simply written about whatever I could find in archives, this website would not be the extraordinary resource that it is today.
The success of what we are producing together has never been about one person, one family, or one history. Its strength lies in myriad details and the minutiae of individual records. It lies in the expressions on faces in the many incredible Kitchener photographs, and in the small pieces of crucial information – and how they are expressed – in documents and in letters.
These faces and these turns of phrase still speak to descendant families across 80 years of history – and our collective response to this simple fact is what has made this project what it is today.
I am also immensely grateful to everyone who has been in contact and shared difficult and sometimes very painful narratives – often for the first time.
I also want to say a particular thank you to those first families who got us going – who put their trust in the project and its endeavours when few had even heard of it. You know who you are – who have been through all these months with me – every so often emailing a suggestion, or offering some help, or just lifting my spirits when I’ve been tired.
It’s been a tough couple of years in some respects, but I have to say that when people thank me, I feel a bit of a fraud.
Because it has been the most wonderful two years working on the Kitchener camp project. I’ve met incredible people and encountered so much fascinating information. Simply put, I have learned so much.
I’m both touched and incredibly proud of what we’ve all achieved here, and while ‘thank you’ seems inadequate, it’s all I have – and I think you know how much I mean it.
I’ll see many of you on Sunday and Monday – and I will hold in my heart every one whom I know would like to be with us but just can’t make it at the moment.
We will be thinking of you all – and we will remember your Kitchener forebears as we each will remember our own that day.
The exhibition is co-sponsored by the Association of Jewish Refugees
Just a quick note to say that all is OK with the Bell Hotel for the Kitchener AJR plaque unveiling organised by Clare Ungerson in Sandwich for 2nd September 2019.
I know some of you have heard about the recent fire. But despite the news report below, the manager is confident they will be absolutely fine to put on a splendid kosher-friendly buffet for our group.
Clare Ungerson has paid a visit today, and assures us that all seems to be in good order.
We send our very best wishes to the Bell Hotel management and staff over what will no doubt be some very trying and tiring days while they get everything cleared up – and in the middle of the summer wedding season! You really do have our sympathies.
One of the Kitchener descendants lent us an incredible document for the project a little while ago. It’s an article on Kitchener camp in what was basically the Le Soir ‘colour supplement’ of its day. It was published in Belgium.
The article is titled (in translation) ‘Kitchener Camp is not a Ghetto’, and was published in February 1940.
The caption for the photograph above, which is from the article, states that it shows the Kitchener camp rabbi. He also appears in a number of Kitchener photographs sent in and in archival photographs I have seen.
However, it doesn’t look like Dr Werner van der Zyl, as far as I can tell from photographs findable on Google images, which tend to be of him in later years. And van der Zyl’s materials are archived at Southampton, which I can’t get to for the time being.
The other Kitchener rabbi we know about was the Orthodox Isidor Broch, but I haven’t been able to find out anything about him – let alone what he looked like in 1939/1940.
If anyone can help – or if you could spread the image around relevant Facebook sites, etc – please do let me know if you find anything out.
You can see his image again (front row, seated) in the photograph below. This photograph is held by a number of families. If you have a copy, could you possibly check the reverse, just in case anything helpful has been written there.
Our friends and colleagues at World Jewish Relief have very kindly included our exhibition information in this month’s WJR newsletter, and on their website.
And World Jewish Relief will be leading one of the workshops on the opening day –
1 September 2919 at the Jewish Museum in London.
I had the great pleasure to present a paper on Kitchener camp alongside WJR at a recent workshop. There is of course something very special about working alongside the organisation that rescued our fathers and grandfathers.
As ever, WJR – thank you so much for your help and support!
If you have a green World Jewish Relief / German Jewish Aid form for your relative, even if you don’t wish to share the whole record, it would be really useful if we could please have a copy of the top part of it.
We have only recently realised that these give arrival date, place of origin and – crucially – camp number!
I can’t tell you how ridiculously excited we get about such things …
We have very few sources for the men’s camp number, so please do think about whether you feel able to share this information with the project.
It would be very gratefully received!
There are only four tickets remaining for the exhibition, so if you’d like to join us for the afternoon events, please do sign up quickly:
The Kitchener history overlaps with many other histories from the wartime period, and the deportation of Jewish refugees to Canada and Australia is one such overlap.
The notorious voyage of HMT Dunera was particularly significant. When news got out about the terrible conditions in which the men were being deported overseas, public opinion swung against the internment of German-speaking refugees.
This meant that releases from internment began only a few weeks after the government policy of mass internment had started in early summer 1940.
We believe that 239 Kitchener refugees were put on board HMT Dunera for internment in Australia in July 1940.
The Dunera Association has just launched their new website and asked if we could post up the following information.
Dunera Association Website Launch
We are pleased to announce the launching of our new website
There is a wealth of information for your use, including all the Dunera News issues published to date, links to many organizations, past and future events, membership information and much more.
We have designed the website to be more inclusive of the Singapore Internees segment of our membership; the stories of both the Singapore Internees and the Dunera Boys appear in the first few pages of the website.
The Wiener Library is hosting a keynote lecture by Prof Anna Reading as part of their joint workshop co-hosted with Arolsen Archives (which was the International Tracing Service archive before the recent name change) and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM).
About the speaker
Anna Reading, PhD, is Director of the Arts and Humanities Research Institute and Professor of Culture and Creative Industries at Kings College, University of London, UK, and Honorary Visiting Professor at the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University, Australia.
A light reception will follow the lecture. This event is free to attend but spaces are limited and registration is required.
Any funds raised in excess of those needed to create the exhibition will be donated to the Wiener Library – to help pay for future Kitchener project costs and towards sending the exhibition to institutions involved in Holocaust education.
With thanks to the Association of Jewish Refugees for their financial support, as ever, in the form of a grant towards half our exhibition costs.