THE KINDERTRANSPORT MEMORY QUILT PROJECT
The Story of the Quilts
by Kirsten Grosz (2008)
Click on Squares
Kindertransport Quilt #1 (of 4 quilts)
My husband, Hanus Grosz, came to England in 1939 on a Kindertransport from Czechoslovakia. He was 15 and his brother, Karel, was one year younger. They grew up in the city of Brno in Czechoslovakia, where their father was a dermatologist. In England they were placed on a farm. The boys knew no English so the farmers wife gave them language lessons. Hanus became a garage mechanic, and his brother a carpenter. They worked until they were old enough to join the British Forces, whereupon Hanus joined the Royal Air Force and Karel the Army. After having served in the Air Force, an ex-service grant gave Hanus the opportunity to get a free University education. He studied medicine and became a physician, the fourth generation in his family to do so.
Hanus spoke very little about his experiences of leaving his parents and never seeing them again and adjusting to a foreign country. Our daughter, Anita, seeking to learn more of her fathers history, joined the Kindertransport Association and in 1996 she came up with the idea of making a Kindertransport Memory Quilt. Since I am interested in quilt making she asked me to be the coordinator. Guidelines on how to make a quilt square were published in the Kinderlink, the Kindertransport Associations quarterly newsletter. With each square submitted, we asked for a page describing the persons experience with the Kindertransport.
The squares started to come in. These were very moving moments for me, reading the descriptions of leaving home and first impressions of the new country. I assembled the squares, choosing the colors of the Israeli flag as the background. An Amish woman did the quilting. Today we have 65 squares, made into three large quilts and two smaller ones. Several Kinder told me that they had wanted to make a square, but they found it was too emotionally difficult. It brought up too many memories that they would rather keep buried.
The Kindertransport Memory Quilt book, which presents each square, in color, with its story is available through the Kindertransport Association. The first edition sold out, and we had the books reprinted.
The Kindertransport Memory Quilts are permanently housed at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, near Detroit, Michigan.
I hope the quilts will communicate to visitors the heart and soul that went into each square as they were made, and help to show that the Kinder survived due to the generosity of the country and the people in England who accepted the children when many other countries refused.
For more information on The Kindertransport Memory Quilts contact us or email firstname.lastname@example.org.