A Child Alone
In the late 1930s, as the Nazis' grip of Germany and Austria tightened and their persecution of Jews intensified, many Jewish parents were desperate for their children, at least, to escape the terror that threatened them all. The organized exodus of children - the Kindertransport - did indeed save many lives, but the survivors paid a terrible price in grief, loneliness, and alienation. This is the story of one such survivor, a loved only child from Vienna, sent to England as a bewildered nine-year-old in 1939. She was never to see her parents again. Though treated with loving kindness by her foster-parents, Martha was always conscious of being alone, separate, and deprived of her birthright. One compensation was what she calls her 'lifelong love affair with the English language,' and she completed her education by winning a scholarship to read for a degree in English at London University. Her survival in an alien culture, her success as a student and later as a teacher, as well as her fulfillment as a wife and mother represent a triumph over adversity comparable to that of more direct Holocaust survivors. The book ends with a description of the Kindertransport reunion which the author attended in 1989. Despite the shadow of tragedy which can never quite leave us, she says, we had all managed to make something of our lives. Perhaps that is the most fitting tribute to our parents.