Today, Viennese children arriving by ship in England are probably on a language trip with school. In late 1938 and early 1939, they were escaping a brutal Nazi regime with no idea if they’d ever see their parents again.
The Without a Home exhibition examines the stories of those who escaped Vienna via the Kindertransporte refugee programme.
- Hosted at the Jewish Museum
- Focuses on the fates of the refugees in their new environments
- The children of the Kindertransporte generation also feature
- Runs Nov 10, 2021 – May 15, 2022
- See also:
- Current history exhibitions in Vienna
No home, but a future?
(Arrival in Harwich © Image Bank WW2 – Spaarnestad Photo)
Westbahnhof is one of Vienna’s bigger railway stations and was once the main gateway to the west. Inside the concourse, among the commuters, tourists, and other travellers, stands a lifesize sculpture of a small boy sitting on a suitcase.
The memorial honours the Kindertransporte: a rescue effort that saw thousands of (mainly Jewish) children flee Nazi Austria by rail and boat for foreign shores between 1938 and the start of WWII.
The Without a Home exhibition explores the differing lives of those young refugees. Not every tale had a positive outcome, for example. Some apparent safe havens (like the Netherlands) later fell under the heel of Nazi Germany, with tragic consequences.
Most of the Kindertransporte children, though, made it to the United Kingdom (the plaque on that railway memorial pays tribute to the role of that country in taking in so many).
Those arriving at Harwich on England’s southern coast would not face Nazi persecution, but they still encountered problems familiar to refugees today: isolation far from home, concerns about the fate of their family (a majority never saw their parents again), a new language, an often itinerant existence, and even suspicion from locals. Some older males eventually landed in internment camps.
But among the suffering, as so often…hope.
Many of those older children went on to contribute to the war effort, using their language skills in the service of the British army, for example.
Other children would leave their own lasting impression on culture and history as adults, or go on to build their own families and fresh existences in the UK, America, and elsewhere.
As well as highlighting how the children fared, the exhibition also reserves some attention for the second generation, who might never have existed were it not for the Kindertransporte.
Tickets and dates
Explore the stories of the Kindertransporte generation from November 10th, 2021 to May 15th, 2022. A standard museum ticket includes access to both Jewish Museum sites and all exhibitions within.
Without a Home occupies the ground floor of the Judenplatz site of the museum.
Pop along to the main site on Dorotheergasse for two more temporary exhibitions that run for at least part of the same period: one on the Viennese Rothschilds and another with photos by Ouriel Morgensztern.
How to get to the exhibition
Visit the main museum article and scroll down for travel tips for Judenplatz.
The Misrachihaus that houses the Jewish Museum is just one of many historical buildings on the square, which dates back to the very earliest days of Vienna’s existence: Roman soldiers once walked on this same ground.
Address: Judenplatz 8, 1010 Vienna