The story of one boy’s journey across Europe to escape the Nazis and make a new life in England will be told at Huddersfield’s Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre next week.
Dr Martin Kapel was just eight years old when he was forced from his home in Leipzig and, along with hundreds of other Jewish families, marched across the German border into Poland.
He recalls a knock on the door early one morning as he, his mother and sister slept. When his mother answered the door, Nazi soldiers burst in and ordered the family to dress and prepare to leave immediately. With no time to grab more than a few possessions, the family was escorted to a police station before being put onto a bus and eventually a train that took them close to the border with Poland.
Members of the SS marched the families down the railway lines before eventually leaving them outside a tiny hamlet that they later discovered was on the Polish side of the border.
Martin will tell how, after being taken in by family members, he and his sister escaped aboard the Kindertransport train to Coventry, where they were fostered by an English family. Yet they were still at peril – the city was bombed extensively in the Blitz and left without water or power for weeks.
Tragically, not one of Martin’s Polish relatives survived – his family page in the Leeds Book of Remembrance names 22 people.
Martin will trace the journeys he made from his homeland to Britain, where eventually he became a university lecturer.
The talk begins at 2pm on Sunday October 6th but the interactive exhibition Through Our Eyes will be open from noon. Tickets cost £6 (£4 concessions) from https://holocaustlearning.org.uk/events/
Since the centre opened a year ago, more than 5,000 visitors have experienced the exhibition, that details the poignant stories of 16 survivors and their families through original artefacts, film, photographs and their own personal testimonies.
Members of the Holocaust SFA raised £1.1m to create the centre, in partnership with the University of Huddersfield.