During World War II, many Christadelphian families in the UK gave homes to European Jewish refugee children whose parents managed to get them out to safety before the Nazis closed the borders.
An elderly Christadelphian (Hazel) died recently in Olivet (the Christadelphian Care Home in Acocks Green), and one of our Knowle and Dorridge members (Gill) was responsible for clearing out her things and disposing of them appropriately. She found an old letter Hazel had kept. It was to Hazel’s mother from the mother of the two Jewish children her family had taken in and looked after during the Second World War. Their poor mother had managed to get her children onto what turned out to be the very last train out of Germany in August 1939 before war was declared on 3rd September. She had very little notice that they’d be allowed to go and she’d thrown a few things into a suitcase and hurried them to the station. It must have been dreadful saying goodbye. Now she’d had a letter from Hazel’s Mum, a woman she didn’t know, saying that her children had arrived safely in London and were being looked after by Hazel’s Mum and her family. So she was writing to say ‘Thank you for looking after my children and please make sure they eat their greens – they’ll probably tell you that they don’t eat vegetables, but it’s not true.’ It’s a very ordinary letter from a Mum who loved her children and was missing them terribly, and it’s all very matter of fact. But it’s the only letter that ever arrived from her. The records show that she and her husband were rounded up by the Nazis with the rest of their family and put in a cattle train and sent to one of the death camps where they perished. The two children looked after by Hazel’s Mum were the only survivors from the entire family.
The boy eventually went to live in Australia and the girl moved to Israel. Gill managed to trace the boy’s Australian address – he’s an old man now, of course. She sent him this letter, the last letter his mother managed to send, written 75 years ago saying how much she loved him and his sister. He wrote Gill a very moving letter, saying how touched he and his sister were to have their Mum’s letter – they hadn’t known it existed, and this last message was very precious to them. And he said how grateful they were to the Christadelphian family who gave them a loving home.