Kindertransport Memory Quilt Square

Quilt 1, Square 19

Artist: Edith Mesch–Reisfeld

The motifs I have chosen for my square have a profound sentimental meaning for me. The photograph represents the last picture taken together with my parents. On November 9th 1938, we were awakened by the smashing of glass windows of my parents’ store, located in the same building as our apartment. Terrified and fearful for our lives, we fled that night from our home and business, never to see either again.

My parents decided to reach Aachen, a German town at the border with Belgium. After a week of terrible uncertainty and fear of arrest, we managed to smuggle ourselves into Belgium.  At that time, no country was willing to admit Jewish refugees.

I don’t know how my parents found out about the Kindertransport.  I assume they felt the war was imminent and their prime concern was for my safety.  Their plan was to send me to England.  One day before my departure, my parents took me to a store in Brussels to buy me a small hand case to keep my few treasures and some food for the journey.  I chose a red patent leather case with black trim around the edges.

The following day, August 23, 1939, my parents put me on a train bound for the boat sailing to England.  I was placed in a coach compartment with other children.  I remember clutching my doll along with that red case and watching my parents standing on the platform. My father had his arm around my mother. As the train moved, my parents receded into the distance and soon disappeared from view. I was alone.

My small red case, 10” X 13”, has been with me ever since that time so long ago.  It went with me to every place I called home in England. Today, my little case, now much aged and worn , resides with me in New York.  It is a part and reminder of that long ago journey I took as a Kind.  It is also a remembrance of my distant past and of England that was willing to admit us when no one else would.

There would be many difficult and lonely times for me in England.  Most importantly, my parents managed to survive in the Nazi-occupied Europe.  And, after seven years of being separated from each other, we were finally reunited as a family.

Edith Mesch-Reisfeld



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