Kindertransport memorial returns to Gdańsk after four years in storage
A Polish Kindertransport in memory of the hundreds of children evacuated from the city as WWII loomed has been restored to its former position after four years in storage.
The bronze monument, which commemorates the four Kindertransport trains which left Gdańsk between the 3rd of May and 25th of August 1939 and saved 130 children, was first unveiled in 2009, but had been in storage since 2019 due to renovation works at the central train station.
It is one of five Kindertransport memorials in stations across Europe which were made by the same Gdańsk-born Israeli sculptor Frank Meisler who was himself saved by the last Kindertransport train that left Gdańsk for London in August 1939.
The other monuments can be found in London (unveiled in 2006), Berlin (2008), Rotterdam (2011) and Hamburg (2015).
Meisler's Gdańsk Kindertransport memorial depicts five children - three girls and two boys, standing with their luggage and waiting for the train's departure - one of the children is clutching a small teddy bear.
There is a direct connection between it and the London monument, as the children boarding the train at Gdańsk, are the same figures seen getting off the train at Liverpool Street Station in the London monument.
By the 1st of September 1939, it is estimated that around 10,000 children had arrived in London from cities across Europe.
Accompanying the re-instating of the Gdańsk monument on the 12th of June, an official ceremony was held.
Alexandra Dulkieiwcz, mayor of Gdańsk said: "It's good that our Gdańsk Kindertransport children have returned after four years of the station's renovation, to the place where they started their journey towards life.
“We missed them. This monument, unveiled on the 70th anniversary of the first Kindertransport, is doubly ours. Firstly, it commemorates the story of the 130 child refugees from Gdańsk .
“Second, its creator, is Frank Meisler, who as a 14-year old student of the Polish Gymnasiuam, left the city in August 1939 in the last Kindertrsnaport...in February, March, April...2022 we waited at this station for the trains filled with mothers and children fleeing war in Ukraine.”
Jacov Livne, Israel's ambassador to Poland, said: "We came here today to commemorate the miracle of the Kindertransports. The fate of these children was unique. Today, it is difficult to imagine that such attrocities like the Holocaust could have happened. It is hard to imagine that people were murdered just for being Jewish. The events of the Second World War cannot be seen as a distant, irrelevant history.
Danny Kalman, chair of the Association of Jewish refugees, whose father was on one of the Kindertransports, said: "As a British national organisation representing and supporting refugees saved from the Holocaust, we are incredibly grateful to be here today to commemorate the return of this important and affecting monument.
“It reminds us both of the bravery and heroism of the parents who sent their children to a safe place when their future was uncertain, as well as being a symbol of the altruism and compassion of those who took under their rooves the youngest victims of the Nazi oppression.
“This monument is also a warning about the dangers of antisemitism and about what happens when rampant nationalism and fascism is uncontrolled. But above all, it honours those children who undertook unimaginable journeys in the background of resettlements, repressions and war.
“Today, the majority of members of the AJR are children and grandchildren of refugees, who join us to celebrate and protect culture and heritage of our parents and grandparents."