Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Movie Recalls Dramatic Rescue

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Movie Recalls Dramatic Rescue

Article excerpt

At a time when Europe was heading inexorably into World War II - and many in retrospect have faulted outsiders for failing to act on behalf of Europe's Jews - a little-known chapter of Anglo-European history was unfolding.

Some 10,000 Jewish children were rescued from certain death. Known as the "Kindertransport," the nine-month operation in 1938- 39 shuttled youngsters of all ages from their parents' arms in Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia into foster homes and hostels in Britain. All hoped to be reunited with their parents after the war. The vast majority never saw their parents again.

The story of this dramatic snatch from the edge of death is told in a new documentary, "Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport," by director Mark Jonathan Harris and producer Deborah Oppenheimer. It is in limited theatrical release in the United States.

The genesis of the project was personal for Oppenheimer. Her mother was in the Kindertransport. "We were not able to talk about it when she was alive," she says. "My mother was part of a generation that kept their suffering private, you just didn't air your problems."

When her mother passed on, Oppenheimer's quest began. She says she began working on the film as a tribute to her mother's life, as well as a way to show people what actually happened. "I needed to ... ask all the painful questions you would ask: 'Could you send your child away?' 'Would you take a child in?' " she says.

The journey began with the frailest of documents - a pile of tissue-thin letters her father discovered after her mother's death. They were correspondence from Oppenheimer's grandparents, two among 6 million Jews who perished in Hitler's concentration camps. "My grandfather would start the letters saying, 'My dearest little mouse.' They made my grandparents come alive again."

Coincidentally, at around the same time as she was rediscovering her own mother's history, Oppenheimer was invited to a philanthropic event at which she discovered a window into the international Kinder community, one that is loosely organized and whose ranks are rapidly thinning. …

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