DorridgeHope Inspires Radio 4 Programme

The BBC has picked up a news item on this website two years after it was posted and after some weeks of research, they have broadcast a 25 minute Radio 4 programme featuring our member Gill MacDonald from Dorridge.

Our original item told how Gill befriended an elderly disabled lady from London by then living in the Christadelphian Care Home in Acocks Green. The lady appointed Gill as her executrix, and when she died, the items Gill had to dispose of included a heart-rending letter from a Jewish mother in Czechoslovakia whose children had escaped on the very last of Sir Nicholas Winton’s kindertransport trains to make it to safety. In her letter, their mother thanked the unknown Christadelphian woman who had taken her children in, apologised for having packed for them in a hurry, and asked the London family to encourage them to eat their greens! This woman and her husband were soon murdered in Treblinka and the uncle who’d arranged the children’s escape was gassed in Auchwitz.

The children survived and both emigrated, one to Australia and the other to Israel. They lost touch with the London family who had given them a home, but by a remarkable series of coincidences, they re-established contact in the 1990s. By then, the London parents were dead and their daughter was the elderly lady in the home in Acocks Green. Gill used to act as scribe for her as she could no longer hold a pen. When she died in 2009 and Gill found the letter amongst her possessions and felt it belonged to the Jewish children, now in their eighties. They knew nothing of any correspondence from their parents, and receiving a letter from their mother 70 years after she wrote saying how much she loved them and how much she missed them was obviously a deeply emotional experience.

Coincidentally, a Christadelphian in South London inherited some home cine films from his father and was wondering about two children appearing with his cousin’s family, and subtitled as being from Moravia in Czechoslovakia. The title gave only their first names, but he visited various libraries and archives and established that his aunt and uncle had taken in two kindertransport children. He would have liked to have found out more about them and if they were still alive as he would have passed on the film. But the trail had gone cold and even if the information existed anywhere, data protection laws prevented its release.

The second coincidence was that at the same time, a young teacher at a Christadelphian school in Los Angeles was researching the holocaust and the part Christadelphians played in rescuing and resettling Jewish refugees. His researches encompassed friends in Australia and eventually someone googled ‘kindertransport Christadelphian’. That took him to our website from which he was able to get in touch with Gill who (with their permission) put him in touch with the two Czechoslovakian Jews. The boy, now aged 90, agreed to be interviewed by the American for a book he was writing. Gill also suggested the American should put a query on a UK Christadelphian website for details of any other surviving kindertransport children who’d been taken in by Christadelphians. When he did so, he was overwhelmed by the flood of responses, and was able to contact and interview many survivors, including one old lady who now lived only a few streets away from him in Los Angeles. One email was from the Londoner who was trying to reunite the home movie with the children it featured, if they were still alive. He was astonished to receive a reply from America ‘They’re still alive and I spoke to one of them in Australia yesterday!’ So by independent actions by three people who didn’t know each other – in Dorridge, London and Los Angeles – an old man in Australia has been reunited with his cine film from 75 years ago.

Our original article can be viewed here and the Radio 4 programme is currently available online. The vintage cine film of the children is also available.

So we’re delighted to hear that this website is read on the west coast of America, and that it’s provided Radio 4 with an interesting story. Christadelphians were in the forefront of caring for displaced Jews during the war because we believe the Bible which tells that they are still God’ people and that He will bless those who bless them and curse those who curse them. Hitler certainly found the last part of that scripture came true for him!