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June 23, 2013 3:16 pm

On 75th Anniversary, New Book Recounts a Father-Son Kindertransport Correspondence

avatar by Zach Pontz

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Kindertransport refugees arriving in London in 1939. Photo: Wikipedia.

A series of events are being hosted by, among others, former British Secretary of State David Milliband and the Prince of Wales, over the next two days in England to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the “kindertransport”—a clandestine program, enacted in the months preceding the Second World War, meant to save Jewish children. Thousands of  children were whisked from near certain death at the hands of the Nazis and granted refuge in England.

Among the attendees at the events will be Henry Foner, nee Heini Lichtwitz, a benefactor of the program whose correspondence with his father during and following the “kindertransport” has now been published by Yad Vashem.

Entitled Postcards to a Little Boy: A Kindertransport Story, The UK’s Daily Telegraph recounts the story of how “little Heini” was transported to Swansea, UK from Berlin. Once there he settled in with a Jewish couple, Morris and Winnie Foner.

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Foner’s father kept in touch through post and phone over the next several years, but would later die at Auschwitz. The last letter Foner received from him was a letter sent through the German Red Cross in August 1942:

“I’m glad about your health and progress. Remain further healthy! Our destiny is uncertain. Write more frequently. Lots of kisses, Daddy.”

Then in 1961, shortly before his 30th birthday, Henry received from a second cousin in the US,  a letter written by his father in 1941 who was by then expecting the worst:

“I think my Heini has found a good home and that the Foners will look after him as well as any parents could. Please convey to them, one day when it will be possible, my deepest gratitude for making it possible for my child to escape the fate that will soon overtake me… Please tell him one day that it was only out of deep love and concern for his future that I have let him go, but that on the other hand I miss him most painfully day by day and that my life would lose all meaning if there were not at least the possibility of seeing him again someday.”

Foner, now a resident of Israel, has finally compiled the letters conveying the many years he spent soaking in his father’s love solely through mediated means. And of course, he’s dedicated it “to the memory of my father and grandmother who had the foresight and courage to send me away, and to Morris and Winifred Foner who saved my life and made me part of their family.”

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  • Robert Morritt

    The article by Zach Pontz regarding Henry Foner (nee:Lichtwitz’ was moving and brought his fathers name ‘Lichtwitz’ to be familar to me. I collect antique books and have the ‘PHILO LEXIKON’ Handbuch des Judischen Wissens'(apologies for the use of German language here!)the early 1935 edition,published by Henry Foner’s father Max Lichtwitz. He was a brave publisher who through his ‘Handbook of Famous Jewish People’ showed the great achievemnts made,his incarceration and death at Auschwitz show bravery and at the same time much sadness.His last letters to his son show the spirit of a kind loving father.Very sad!