Glasgow and the Kindertransport

From the BBC:

A new play is to be performed at Glasgow’s Central Station to mark 75 years since the start of Kindertransport, the wartime initiative to save Jewish children.

Almost 10,000 Jewish children fleeing Nazi persecution in Germany were found homes in the UK.

Suitcase tells the poignant story of the unaccompanied child refugees who left their parents behind.

Few saw their parents or families again.

The play aims to take the audience on a journey through the station, recreating the stories of the bewildered children, waiting foster parents and curious commuters who first witnessed the scenes in 1938.

Over a period of 18 months, more than 9,500 were saved from almost certain death when they made the dangerous journey by train across Europe to reach the UK.

Among them were Henry and Ingrid Wuga, who arrived in Scotland as 15-year-olds and eventually met and married in Glasgow.

Mr Wuga, who lives in Giffnock in East Renfrewshire, described the journey from Germany as “traumatic”.

But he said their survival was a remarkable reminder of how vital the Kindertransport – which translates as child transport – was, and the legacy it left behind.

Mr Wuga said: “To put young children on a train and send them to a different country with a different language is very traumatic, but it saved lives.

“When you grow up as a Jewish child in Germany, especially in Nuremberg, you are very aware of the danger.

“There were people smashing up houses, beating you up, waving flags – you knew you had to leave.

“I will never forget waving goodbye to my parents and I will always remember arriving here in Glasgow at Central Station on 5 May.”

Mr Wuga met Ingrid at a refugee club in Sauchiehall Street and they were married in the city’s Pollokshields area in December 1944.

The couple, both 89, have two daughters and four grandsons.

“We are here, we survived and we created a new family – that is the important part.”

The play will be performed three times at Central Station on Tuesday, before touring railway stations in England, culminating with a performance at Liverpool Street Station in London on 2 December.

Director Ros Merkin, whose mother arrived in Britain under Kindertransport, said: “Moments from her story always stayed with me – arriving in a coat made in the ‘English fashion’, travelling from Vienna to Sunderland.

“Suitcase wants to mark these moments and these stories in what will be the last major anniversary that many of the Kinder can take part in.”

Mr & Mrs Wuga were, for many years the kosher catering people in Glasgow. How they managed to keep sane when dealing with so many people’s simchas is a wonder! Nice people. And so typical of them to keep wanting to be involved in educating the next generations about their experiences. Kol Hakavod to them.

[The full version of the BBC post, including pictures, is here.]