The Other Kindertransport

As Nazis Closed In, 150 Teens Improbably Found Freedom

A Reunion Postponed: Judit Shaked left Czechoslovakia for Denmark in 1939. Recently, she reunited with some of the survivors of the second kindertransport.
Eliska Blazkova
A Reunion Postponed: Judit Shaked left Czechoslovakia for Denmark in 1939. Recently, she reunited with some of the survivors of the second kindertransport.

By Sarah Wildman

Published December 19, 2012, issue of December 21, 2012.
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I worked at home and also in the fields, in the vegetable garden. I learned to milk. All these were chores I had not done before, but I bore it. It was harder to adjust to the conditions of life, especially the lack of any private corner. Besides, I missed home very much. I was sad. Once a week we would meet, all the friends from the neighborhood, in a nearby town Naestved, in what was called the Centrum. We rode there on bicycles, 10 to 15 kilometers. We had instructors from He-Halutz, members of Hachshara. In our meetings we studied a little — Hebrew, Jewish history; we discussed current events; we played. There were different cultural activities, and mostly we talked, exchanged impressions, experiences, thoughts. These meetings with friends were my comfort and made the difficult time easier.”

Boys who were old enough began to agitate to enlist in allied armies. Some of the girls were sent to nanny for families. Dov Strauss remembers this time fondly. His Danish family embraced him and remained a part of his life forever. He continued to receive letters from his parents, and from an uncle who had escaped to Argentina.

Beginning in 1940, handfuls of the students were led overland and sea to Israel. Strauss was one of the first to go, a journey that went through Finland to Leningrad to Odessa, crossing the Black Sea by boat, then by train from Istanbul to Syria and Lebanon, finally to Rosh HaNikra. Shaked was among those chosen to travel to Israel in the next group. She entered Haifa on March 21, 1941. The ordeal took three weeks on buses, luxury boats and third-class trains. Strauss went to Kibbutz Geva.

Shaked went to Ben Shemen, a youth and education village. Life was good, but she was anxious. “News of what was happening in Europe began to arrive,” she said. Letters stopped, except for those rare, short, letters through the Red Cross. “At the end of the war, I found out my family’s fate: My parents and brother were deported to Terezin in 1942, and from there to Auschwitz in October 1944. All three perished. Only a few from my extended family survived. In those days I became close to a member of my group (who had also come through Denmark, but was not Czech). I married him in 1947. Before that, in 1945, we were among the founders of a new kibbutz, Gezer, and we lived there.”

But her trials were not over. She’d barely discovered that her parents had been killed when her young husband was killed in the War of Independence while defending the kibbutz.

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