Children depart 5.13 pm

Recollections of the Polenaktion
and the Kindertransport of 1938/39

The online project Children depart 5.13 pm gives voice to contemporary witnesses, most of whom were rescued with a so-called Kindertransport.

The life stories are about individual experiences of flight and exile, about school classes who were rescued abroad together, about the fate of relatives left behind in Germany or Poland, and last but not least about memory. The online exhibition is the expanded and bilingual version of a large exhibition that was opened in Cologne in November 2013 to mark the 75th anniversary of the start of the Kindertransport rescue operation.

The previously almost unknown chapter of the Kindertransport from the Polish town of Zbaszyn (German: Bentschen) also sheds light on the prehistory: the mass deportation of Jews of Polish origin in October 1938, the so-called “Polenaktion”.

The title of the project takes up a telegram from principal Erich Klibansky announcing the first Jawne Kindertransport: Children depart 5.13 pm. Farewell at school.

Cologne citizens in a barn in Zbaszyn after their deportation in November 1938 (Photo: NS-DOK Cologne, Corbach Collection)
Saved by a Kindertransport to England: Henny Franks, Margot Showman, Henry Gruen, Lore Robinson, Helfried Heilbut and Ernest Kolman (from left to right) at the exhibition opening in Cologne 2013 (Photo: A. Joerss)