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HUNTINGTON — The Tri-State’s Jewish community is planning two events in the next few days focusing on the Holocaust.
Volunteers will read the names of Holocaust victims at B’nai Sholom Congregation all day Sunday, April 23, and author Lore Segal, one of 10,000 children who fled from Nazi terror in 1938-1940, will talk on “Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport” at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 27, at the Temple. Her presentation is open to the public.

The Kindertransport — German for children’s transport — began after the British government eased immigration restrictions for children younger than 17 after the Nazis’ attack on German Jews in November 1938, known as Kristallnacht. Between Dec. 2, 1938, and May 14, 1940, nearly 10,000 children from Germany, Czechoslovakia and Austria — most of them Jewish — were put on trains headed toward Britain.

Segal, 78, departed Vienna, Austria, on
Dec. 10, 1938 — the first Kindertransport from that city. She lived with five foster families in Britain and felt comfortable with none of them, she recalls. When her parents finally followed her to Britain, they found work as domestic servants and could not have children living with them then, either.

Segal’s father, who interned for a time on the Isle of Man as a German-speaking alien, died during the final week of World War II. Segal and her mother emigrated to the Dominican Republic in 1948 and to New York City in 1951, where Segal became a translator and a writer of novels, essays and children’s books. Her mother died last fall at age 100.

“My father put our names on a list in 1938,” she says. “We arrived in the United States in 1951. It took us 13 years to get here.”

That was because of the nation’s quota system, which critics have assailed as too low in light of the Nazis’ determined liquidation of Jews, non-Aryans, political radicals, gypsies and gays.

“I sometimes look at Americans and think, ‘What a good idea you had, being born here right away,’ ” she says.

Segal’s autobiographical novel, “Other People’s Houses,” which recounts her experiences in Britain, and some of her children’s books will be available for purchase following the program.

Segal also will speak to all 1,000 or so Cabell County’s eighth-graders, and high school students as their teachers permit, in two sittings — at Huntington High School, 9 a.m. Thursday, and at Cabell Midland High School, 9 a.m. Friday.

“The children already are learning about the Holocaust from their teachers and curricula produced by the West Virginia Holocaust Education Commission and donated to the schools by the Federated Jewish Charities of Huntington,” says Niza Uslan, the Cabell County Public Library’s youth services coordinator and a member of the Temple’s education committee. “This program will reinforce what they have learned about a tragic period in history.”

The middle schools will receive copies of “Kindertransport” by Olga Drucker, which describes the author’s six years in England and reunion with her parents in 1945. Each school also has already received videos of “Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport,” an Oscar-winning documentary done in 2000 by Deborah Oppenheimer.

“This is a program the children can relate to,” Uslan says. “Lore was their age when she had to leave behind her parents, her family, her friends and her home and learn a new country, a new people and a new language.”

Librarian Karen Bremer and art teacher Kay Fricke at West Middle School developed informational packets and study guides for the children’s teachers.

The school visits are being sponsored by B’nai B’rith, the Cabell County Board of Education and the Federation.

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Two events to remember Holocaust

By Bob Withers
The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON — The Tri-State’s Jewish community is planning two events in the next few days focusing on the Holocaust.

Volunteers will read the names of Holocaust victims at B’nai Sholom Congregation all day Sunday, April 23, and author Lore Segal, one of 10,000 children who fled from Nazi terror in 1938-1940, will talk on “Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport” at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 27, at the Temple. Her presentation is open to the public.