Outside the marginals

A commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010, 2015 & 2017 elections

Rate of return on Immigrants

Today we have seen Sir Nicholas Winton honoured by the Czech Republic for his work on the kindertransport which was responsible for about 10,000 children escaping to Britain from the Nazis. Sir Nicholas personally found homes for 690 of these immigrants.

Given that we are now meant to look for a “return” on anything – even humanitarian gestures, how did these relatively randomly chosen children turn out?

A full audit has not been done – so I guess that nowadays we cannot definitively claim the kindertransport as a “good thing”.

However, the following are listed as notable people saved by the kindertransport (the 10,000 figure not just the 690):

  • Benjamin Abeles (from Czechoslovakia), physicist
  • Andre Asriel (de), (from Austria), composer
  • Frank Auerbach (from Germany), British painter
  • Gretel Beer (from Austria) British cookbook author
  • Leslie Brent (from Germany), British immunologist
  • Julius Carlebach (from Germany), British sociologist, historian and rabbi
  • Rolf Decker (from Germany), American professional, Olympic and international footballer
  • Alfred Dubs, Baron Dubs (from Czechoslovakia), British politician
  • Susan Einzig (from Germany), book illustrator
  • Walter Feit (from Austria), American mathematician
  • Hans Fellner (from Austria), bookseller
  • Vera Gissing (from Czechoslovakia) British author
  • John Grenville (from Germany), British historian
  • Eva Hesse (from Germany), American artist
  • Hans Jacobus (from Germany), German journalist
  • Walter Kaufmann (from Germany) Australian and German author
  • Walter Kohn (from Austria), American physicist and Nobel laureate
  • George Kovacs (from Austria), American innovator in lighting fixture design
  • Frank Meisler (from Danzig), architect and sculptor
  • Henry Mendelson (from Germany), former chairman of the Australian Council of Christians and Jews
  • Gustav Metzger (from Germany), stateless artist and political activist
  • Ruth Morley, née Birnholz (from Austria), American costume designer for film and theater, created the Annie Hall look
  • Otto Newman (from Austria), British sociologist
  • Hanna Peiser (from Danzig), Israeli sculptor and artist
  • Arno Penzias (from Germany), American physicist and Nobel laureate
  • Sir Erich Reich (from Austria), British entrepreneur
  • Karel Reisz (from Czechoslovakia), British film director
  • Wolfgang Rindler (from Austria), British / American physicist prominent in the field of General Relativity
  • Paul Ritter (from Czechoslovakia), architect, planner and author
  • Dr. Fred Rosner (From Germany), Professor of medicine and medical ethicist
  • Sir Walter Salomon founded Young Enterprise in England in 1962/63 which has since spread throughout Europe
  • Joe Schlesinger, CM (from Czechoslovakia), Canadian journalist and author
  • Lore Segal (from Austria), American novelist, translator, teacher, and author of children’s books, whose adult book In Other People’s Houses describes her own knocked-from-house-to-house experiences
  • Dame Stephanie Steve Shirley (from Germany), British businesswoman and philanthropist
  • Michael Steinberg, (from Breslau, Germany—now Wrocław, Poland), American music critic
  • Sir Guenter Treitel (from Germany), British law scholar
  • Hanuš Weber (from Czechoslovakia), Swedish TV producer
  • Kurt Weiler (from Germany), producer animated cartoons (DEFA)
  • Dr. Ruth Westheimer (from Austria) American therapist and sex expert
  • Lily Renée Wilhelm, Comic book pioneer (graphic novelist, illustrator)
  • Philip Urbach (from Germany), Principal Lecturer at the Polytechnic of North London
  • Yosef Alon (Josef Plazcek) (from Czechoslovakia), Israeli military officer and fighter pilot who served as air and naval attaché to the United States, murdered 1 July 1973.
    (ref: Wikipedia : Kindertransport)

And these are those who achieved notability and does not include those who whilst not achieving public success made valuable contributions to society. Nor does it include their descendants.

Dame Stephanie Shirley (listed above) gave an interview about her experience on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme tonight (28 October 2014, starting 36:24 minutes in – link OK for 4 weeks).

Appearing on BBC Radio 2’s Good Morning Sunday with Clare Balding in 2013, Dame Stephanie discussed why she had given away more than £67 million of her personal wealth to different projects. In her 2012 memoirs Let IT Go, she writes “I do it because of my personal history; I need to justify the fact that my life was saved.” (ref: Wikipedia : Steve Shirley)

We should be wary of believing that even the least promising of set of immigrants will not in the end make a contribution and “return on our generosity”.



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