Kindertransport refugee who fled Nazis retraces journey (Details)

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Crossing the finishing line
Andy Tyler Photography



Paul Alexander, 80, and his grandson Daniel, 14, crossing the finishing line in a commemorative cycle ride from Berlin to London

An 80-year-old refugee who fled Nazi Europe as a toddler has taken part in a cycle ride with his grandson to mark the rescue of 10,000 children.

Paul Alexander retraced the first journey of the Kindertransport rescue to mark its 80th anniversary.

He remembers nothing of the journey but found safety in the UK, he said after crossing the finishing line.

The rescue was organised after the anti-Jewish violence of Kristallnacht in Germany in November 1938.

An evacuation of mostly Jewish children to Britain saw the first arrivals in Harwich, Essex, in December 1938.




The first destination for many new arrivals was Dovercourt Bay holiday camp, near Harwich, where they enjoyed their first meal.

Most of the cyclists were descendants of those rescued but Mr Alexander experienced it first-hand.

He was 19 months old when his mother handed him to a British volunteer nurse, arriving in England six weeks before the outbreak of the war.

The cyclists travelled from Berlin, through Germany to the Hook of Holland where they took the Ferry to Harwich retracing the children’s journey.


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Paul Alexander was reunited with his parents aged four or five

His father was released from Buchenwald detention camp on condition that he left the country, and his mother managed to escape to Britain days before the outbreak of war.

Mr Alexander said the three of them were reunited when he was aged four or five, but he knew he was one of the lucky ones.

He said more than half of children on the Kindertransport did not see their parents again.


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Paul Alexander’s father Alfons spent time in the Buchenwald Nazi detention camp

“I was saved from the Holocaust, sent to a lovely country where I grew up and integrated into British life,” he said.

“For me, this is a culmination, a vindication and a celebration of my life. Years ago I was sent as a child from Germany – then a country of persecution and hatred – to the UK where I found freedom and safety.

“The journey that I’ve completed today is a victory over oppression and over everything that I was sent away from.

“I can’t think of a more poignant and meaningful thing than doing this with my son and grandson. This is my answer to Adolf Hitler.”

Mr Alexander qualified as a solicitor in London aged 24 and moved to Israel, where he still lives, in the 1970s after meeting his wife.

The cyclists are aiming to raise more than £100,000 to support World Jewish Relief’s work with people living in poverty around the globe.




Some of the Jewish children who arrived in Harwich from Germany were temporarily housed at Dovercourt camp

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