Commemorating Marie Schmolka and the Kindertransport

Marie Schmolka’s identity card.

JVL Introduction

A reminder of the context of the Kindertransport and the role of the many –  usually female – volunteers, now forgotten,  who saved thousands of Jewish and political refugees from the Nazis.

Also notice of a society  to promote awareness of Marie Schmolka and an appeal for donations to help its work

Just over a year ago we published an original article by Anna Hájková on Marie Schmolka, who inspired the Kindertransport and who saved thousands of Jewish and political refugees from Central Europe We’re very pleased to report that History Today has just published an extended article on the same topic under the title The Woman Behind the Kindertransport.

In it Hájková writes:

The figure of a lonely male hero, the British stockbroker Nicholas Winton, remembered as the organiser of the Kindertransport, has been sacralised. This popular perception, however, has meant that Winton’s activities among volunteer refugee helpers has been taken out of context. A more accurate account would show that he, with others, organised the Kindertransport because, amid the xenophobic atmosphere of 1930s’ Britain, adult refugees were regarded as dangerous.

What is more often neglected is Winton’s repeated assertions that he was part of a much larger network, which included older female social workers who played key roles in directing the operation. Reducing rescue work to a single great man not only erases women from history, it makes their work seem distant and impossible to emulate and repeat. The real history of the rescue volunteers reveals a transnational network between Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Britain.

You can read the full story on the History Today website (fee required)

A society has been established to commemorate Marie Schmolka. It has its website here.

Its aim is simply to promote the awareness of Marie Schmolka.

We would like to see her commemorated both in Prague and London, and install memorial plaques in Kamzíkova, Prague and Gospel Oak, Lissenden Gardens.

Moreover, we aim to promote research into women social workers during the Holocaust, whose role is far too often erased.

To this end, we seek donations to support for commemorative plaques, organise annual research workshops, and to announce a periodic prize for best article on women social workers during the Holocaust.