In November 1938 on The Night of the Broken Glass, the Jewish people of Germany are terrified as Hitler's men shatter their store windows, steal and destroy their belongings, and arrest many Jewish fathers and brothers. Parents fear for their own lives but their focus is on protecting their children. When England arranges to take the children out of Germany by train, the Kindertransport is organized and parents scramble to get places on the trains for their young family members, worried about what the future will hold. Soon, trains filled with Jewish children escaping the Nazis chug over the border into Holland, where they are ferried across the English Channel to England and to freedom. But for Peter, the shy violin player, his sister Becca, and his friends Stephen and Hans, life in England holds challenges as well. Peter’s friend Eva, who did not get a seat on the Kindertransport, is left to the evil plans of Hitler. Peter, working his musician’s hands raw at a farm in Coventry, wonders if they should have stayed and fought back instead of escaping. When the Coventry farm is bombed and Nazis have reached England, Peter feels he has nothing left. He decides it’s time to stand and fight Hitler. Peter returns to Germany to join the Jewish underground resistance, search for the mother and sister he left behind in Berlin, and rescue his childhood friend Eva.
As Jana tells it, the remarkable story of the Kindertransport children in Nazi Germany touched her heart and would not let go: “Since the moment I heard their incredible, historic tale, they have not left my mind. The Kindertransport children came to live in my conscience and would not leave until I told their story.” Jana hopes readers will find the courage to stand up to the injustices that affect us all. Jana Zinser is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire School of Law and received her masters in Journalism from the University of Iowa. Her past work in politics, public policy, and the media, coupled with her determined focus on children and social justice, have uniquely placed her to tell this story. It’s a story as timeless and essential as ever, a story that will capture the hearts of the world. Jana lives in Colorado with her children.
The parents of the Kindertransports, despite their broken hearts, allowed their children to leave Germany without them in order to keep them safe from the Nazis. The children rode the trains by themselves and lived with foster families in England. When the parents said goodbye at the train station, they did not know if they would see their children again.
The Children’s Train
The train whistle blew, pulling the children back into the reality of their own sorrows. They hung out the windows waving, pushing to get one last look at their families still corralled behind the fence. Parents bravely smiled and waved, as if they were seeing their children off for the first day of school. Some jumped up to see over the crowd and get one final glimpse of their children before the train took them beyond their reach.