The ‘Kitchener Camp’ Rescue

Many people have heard of the Kindertransport operation which was organised by Sir Nicholas Winton and managed to rescue 669 unaccompanied Jewish children from Nazi Germany.

Less well-known is another operation that has become known as the “Kitchener Camp” rescue; so named because it made use of a derelict army base on the Kent coast near the town of Sandwich.

Orchestral recital at the Kitchener CampAn `orchestral recital` at the Kitchener Camp

That operation saved the lives of nearly 4,000 German and Austrian Jewish men and is now the subject of an online exhibition at London’s Wiener Holocaust Library.

There are few official records remaining that document the rescue, but the Kitchener Online Project has worked with the men’s families to put together the story, using personal letters, documents and photographs.

During Kristallnacht in November 1938, thousands of Jewish men were arrested and taken to concentration camps. Subjected to starvation and torture, hundreds of them died or were killed.

But some were able to be released on condition that they undertook to leave Germany immediately. Many countries refused to take more refugees, and that was when the Kitchener rescue began. It was funded and run by the same mainly Jewish aid organisations that funded and coordinated the Kindertransport and domestic service visa schemes.

A portable exhibition titled Leave to Land has also been developed, drawing on the items collected for the Kitchener Camp Project.

One fascinating item in the online exhibition is a BBC documentary about the rescue operation, which was produced several years ago and is now shown by permission from the BBC.