My Lords, I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, for securing the debate and for all the work that he has done and continues to do. If I may say so, we are all glad that he is still here.
In preparation for my short contribution, I made one visit and one phone call. The visit was to Dr Hilda Cohen, a close friend of my wife’s family, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday. I visited her on Friday morning because as a 10 year-old girl she was sent on the Kindertransport to the UK. She brought Kristallnacht to life for me. She talked of the flames, the burning and the destruction of her own synagogue in Frankfurt on the night of Wednesday
That sense of community led me to the phone call, which I made yesterday. I called the renowned playwright Diane Samuels, who was in my class in school in Liverpool. Diane wrote the play “Kindertransport”, which was first performed here in the UK in 1993. I recommend it to those noble Lords who may not have seen it. Diane cited three reasons for writing that play, which she published. The first was that she saw a friend, whose father had been on the Kindertransport, struggling with the concept of survival. The second was when she heard another friend being shocked to find out that his mother was in Auschwitz—he did not know this all his life. The third reason was the admission of another woman in her fifties, who had come on the Kindertransport, and had expressed a feeling of rage at her dead parents who had abandoned her, even though that abandonment had led to the saving of her life.
These are challenging issues but on the call yesterday, I reminded Diane that as young teenagers in Liverpool we and our friends were inspired by Stanley Morris of the Shifrin Foundation. This was an educational drama group that played a huge part in our upbringing and taught us a massive sense of community. Diane was a superstar then, as she is today.
For me, the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport is a reminder of acts of kindness and bravery, a commitment to one’s fellows and a striving for a better world. It is the inspiring story of Hilda and the educational creativity of Diane that give me hope for a better future.