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The story of the ‘Kindertransporte’ (Kindertransports)

The Yavneh-Kindertransports

   Founded in 1919 in Cologne, the Yavneh, a ‘Privates jüdisches Reform-Realgymnasium mit Realschule für Knaben und Mädchen’, (‘Private Jewish Reform Grammar School with Secondary Modern School for Boys and Girls’) was the only Jewish grammar school in the Rhineland. Dr Erich Klibansky was its principal from 1929 onwards. In 1932, there were 224 pupils attending the Yavneh School and that year the original pupils sat their final exams.

   In the years after the National Socialists came to power, Jewish pupils from all over what is now called North Rhine-Westphalia joined the Yavneh School after they had been expelled from state schools. In 1937, the school reached its peak size with 423 boys and girls.

   From 1933 onwards, Klibansky and his colleagues had the objective of preparing pupils for a life outside Germany as the focus of their educational work. Thus, in the school year 1937/38, the first ‘Higher English classes’ were established, in which boys and girls were prepared for the ‘Cambridge School Certificate’ with lessons conducted in English.

   After the November pogrom of 1938, Klibansky made a big effort to save the entire school by transferring it to England. He was able to put part of his plan into practice in 1939. 130 children and young people were taken to Great Britain with four transports. Some of them were rescued as entire classes and were intially housed in specially prepared ‘Yavneh-hostels’ in London, Liverpool, Manchester and Brighton. It was comforting to be safe together with classmates and friends amidst the traumatic experience of leaving behind parents and everything familiar.

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Dr Erich Klibansky (1900-1942), Principal of the Yavneh from 1929
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The Kindertransport to Great Britain - Stories from North-Rhine-Westphalia