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Kitchener Camp, Richborough, England: 1939-1940

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  • Rudolph Rosenstadt (1913 - 1981)
  • Maximilian Feuer (1904 - 1967)
    Austria, Vienna, Jewish Vital Records, 1835-1938 Record type: Birth Birth: Jan 8 1904 - Vienna, Austria (Wien, Österreich) Father: Jacob Feuer Mother: Sara Riwe Schimmel
  • Otto Perl (1915 - 2014)
    PERL--Otto. Beloved husband of over 70 years to Susanne, proud father of Lawrence, Monica, and Martin. Cherished "Papa" of Michael, Ze'ev, Elyse, Michal, Doron, Leia, Daniel, and Ella. Born in Vienna i...
  • Hans Friedrich Elias (1915 - 1993)
    Birth record
  • Eduard Elias (1905 - 1967)
    Birth record Genteam - Detail View: Index of the Jewish Records of Vienna and Lower Austria No. 30370 Last Name Elias First Name Eduard Code 1 First Name Father Max Magel Last Name Moth...

This project seeks to bring together any profiles of the approximately 4000 men (and some) women who spent time in the Kitchener Camp between 1938 and 1945. The following description comes from the dedicated website "In the immediate aftermath of November 1938, the Central British Fund for German Jewry (CBF) (now World Jewish Relief) managed to persuade the British government to allow the CBF to mount two rescues of Jews from Greater Germany. The first of these rescues – of 10,000 unaccompanied children – is well known as the Kindertransport. The second rescue, which is less well remembered and documented, was of around 4,000 adult men, many of whom had been arrested during November 1938 and incarcerated in three concentration camps: Sachsenhausen, Dachau, and Buchenwald.

The CBF undertook to organize transport and accommodation for the children and for the men, and to support both groups financially. It was on the promise of this financial support, and on condition that neither group would make Britain their permanent home, that the British Home Office finally gave permission for these rescues to take place.

Between February 1939 and the outbreak of World War Two on 3 September 1939, just under four thousand adult Jewish refugees, all of them men, were put on trains from Berlin and Vienna. They travelled via Ostende and Dover to Sandwich in East Kent, where the CBF had rented an old First World War base known as Kitchener Camp. This camp was one of seven WWI camps close to Sandwich, known collectively as Richborough Port. The camp itself was sometimes referred to, particularly by the Jewish philanthropists who ran the CBF, as Richborough Transit Camp.

Kitchener was run by two Jewish brothers, Jonas and Phineas May. They had experience running summer camps for the Jewish Lads Brigade, but this must have been a much more demanding task – to run a camp for 4,000 traumatized men, most of whom had had to leave behind their families in the Third Reich. During summer 1939, a few of the men managed to get their wives and children out of Greater Germany using the system of ‘domestic service visas’ for their wives and the Kindertransports for their children. However, most families were not able to get out of Germany in time, and they were killed during the Holocaust.

In December 1939, after the outbreak of war, the Kitchener men were encouraged to join the Pioneer Corps – an unarmed section of the British Army. The large majority enlisted, and most formed part of the British Expeditionary Force to continental Europe. When France fell in May/June 1940 it was thought too risky to keep a group of German-speaking refugees – or ‘enemy aliens’, as they were known – so close to the English Channel and the ports. Subsequently, Kitchener camp – as a refugee camp and as a Pioneer Corps training camp – was closed down. Most of the men remained in the British Army, but were moved to Devon; those who had not enlisted – about six hundred men – were sent to internment camps, mostly on the Isle of Man."