JCR-UK SIG #UnitedKingdom (UK) Kitchener Camp--Jewish German and Austrian Men Fled to UK for Safety Before WWll to Hold 80th Anniversary and Exhibit #unitedkingdom

Jan Meisels Allen

Outside the town of Sandwich, Kent, UK was the Kitchener Camp - where 4,000
Jewish men >from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia were brought in the
final months before the Second World War. The Central British Fund for
German Jewry (CBF) now known as the World Jewish Relief - the same group
that met about the Kindertransport for refugee children, decided steps had
to be taken to facilitate the transport of Jews >from the Reich out of Nazi
territory. The British government agreed to the concept of a transport camp
but not of a refugee camp.

Adult men were brought to the UK on condition they would not be granted UK
citizenship, they must not work, and they must emigrate onwards to the US,
Australia and elsewhere. The Camp began in February 1939. By the time the
war broke out, 4,000 Jews had arrived at the camp. The Jews arrived by train
and boat. The CBF rented a derelict army base at Richborough, near Sandwich
to house the men. They built or refurbished 42 accommodation huts, shower
and toilet blocks, two synagogues, a medical clinic, a post office and
shops. The men expected their families but the outbreak of the war prevented
many form traveling. After the Dunkirk evacuation in May 1940 public opinion
turned against German-speaking refugees, as some were suspected of being
spies or saboteurs. Those not serving in the war effort were interned or
deported to Australia and Canada. The Kitchener Camp was closed.

An exhibition, Leave to Land: The Kitchener Camp Rescue 1939, is opening
September 1 and runs through September 8 at the Jewish Museum in Camden and
then will be donated to the Wiener Library in London, the UK's premier
Holocaust Archives and Library. On September 2 a blue plaque will be
unveiled in Sandwich in the presence of descendants of the rescued men.

To read more see:

Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

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