Thursday, February 02, 2006

Into the Arms of Strangers

Stories of the Kindertransport
Rating: *****

This movie won the Academy Award for best documentary in 2000. This doesn't even begin to do it justice. The movie is told mostly from the point of view of the Jewish children who were evacuated from Eastern Europe during 1938-39 and sent to live with strangers in England. Many of their parents died at concentration camps.

I had never heard of the kindertransport, which is saying something because I have read far more than I probably should have about the Holocaust and World War II. I first heard about the Holocaust when I was nine and I inadvertantly borrowed a book from the library that held several accounts of those who survived the concentration camps and those who were hidden in people's homes. I was horrified to say the least, yet I kept reading every book I could get my hands on. I could not believe that people would let such a thing occur, and yet it is still occurring in other places in the world. I think this was the first time my eyes were truly opened to the horrors of the world. The story that has stayed with me from that first book is the story of a young man who hid in an abandoned attic and drank his own urine out of fear of coming down to get a drink of water.

For years, I have had terrible recurring nightmares about the Holocaust. In each, I am separated from my family and forced to watch those I love be slaughtered. I have not told many people about these dreams. For a year or two when I was first coming out, these dreams occurred with more frequency. I confided in my friend Andie that I believed that they were related to my fear of persecution as a lesbian. I still believe that because after I came out to my family, the dreams stopped for a time.

A few years ago, I became fascinated with Corrie ten Boom because she lived through such horrors and came out of them with such love and grace. Her story is one of the most moving I have ever read.

Even with the horrors of the Holocaust, I love the stories of those people, like Corrie ten Boom, who could see the need in their neighbors and take care of them, putting their own lives on the line. Kindertransport is just that sort of story. Approximately 10,000 children were sent out of eastern Europe to live with British families who were kind enough to take them in and make them a part of their own families. Granted, not every story is so loving, but most of them are.

If there are others out there who need some hope when times are bleak, this story offers some.

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