Topics: Holocaust, Holocaust Commemoration, Holocaust Survivors, Holocaust Memorials, Holocaust Education, Main Topic: Holocaust and Memorial, Memory, National Identity
Abstract: To date, scholars have mainly focussed on the history of the Kindertransport. This thesis is the first to examine extensively how the Kindertransport has been remembered in Britain, and to compare British memory of this event with memory in the other English-speaking host nations which took in the refugee children (Kinder), namely America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. ‘Kindertransport’ is understood here as referring not just to the actual rescue of children with mainly Jewish origins from Nazism that took place between 1938 and 1940, but also the effects it had, such as transplantation to strange environments. There is yet to be a true exploration of how the memories of the Kinder and these nations’ memories of the Kindertransport developed. Any comparison of these various host countries must consider the degree to which memory of the Kindertransport is not uniform, and the extent to which it is shaped by factors such as the role of these countries in the Second World War, and – above all – nationally conditioned memory discourses. Increasingly, according to memory scholars, Holocaust memory operates in a transnational, even global network. This thesis will assess this expectation against the empirical evidence. Is it more the case that host nations remember the Kindertransport in essentially national terms, even where they are aware of its transnational history? In order to assess this question, this thesis will examine a representative cross-section of different genres including testimony, museum exhibitions, memorials, and novels. I argue that the Kindertransport is much more nationally focussed and celebratory in Britain than in other host nations, where this memory is more transnational in focus. However, there are signs that national memory in Britain is beginning to develop in a more self-critical direction.