Kindertransport – A personal Account Given to The Children Of Kells Lane Primary School, Low Fell, Gateshead.
Gabriele Keenaghan, a refugee child from Vienna, Austria, who was brought to the UK in 1939 on the Kindertransport, gave a very moving talk to Year 5 and Year 6 children at Kells Lane Primary School, about her personal experience of her journey from Austria to England fleeing Nazi persecution. The Kindertransport was an organised effort prior to World War Two to rescue Jewish children from Nazi Germany and occupied countries. In total nearly 10,000 children were saved.
Gabriele brought her teddy bear for the children to see, the only personal item allowed, which has been her most treasured possession for over 80 years. She talked to the children about her vivid memories of the Kristallnacht, ‘The Night of Broken Glass’, which was a pogrom against Jews carried out throughout Germany and Austria in 1938, when her father’s business was destroyed. Even though her mother was a Christian, Gabriele had to leave her Catholic school and wear a yellow Star of David to identify her as Jewish in public. Her journey to England was long and arduous but once there she was looked after by various Foster Families and quickly learnt English at her school where she developed an ambition to become a Teacher, later moving to the North East where she married and became a Headteacher. It was only much later she discovered that her father had been rounded up and placed in a Ghetto, the survivors of which disappeared in Concentration Camps. She now has a very active life in retirement and has two daughters and three grandchildren, with one Headteacher and one Teacher in the family so far.
Gabriele’s story was an inspiration to the children and staff at Kells Lane, and is something many will never forget. The children were extremely moved by her story and their interest was highlighted by their high level questions throughout, they were aware of the plight of refugee children from conflicts in the modern world and the need to help children, now as much as then.