Children depart 5.13 pm


Recollections of the Polenaktion and the Kindertransports of 1938/39


The online presentation Children depart 5.13 pm commemorates historical events beginning in the autumn and winter of 1938: the deportation of 17,000 Jewish people in the so-called Polenaktion as well as the series of rescue efforts known as Kindertransports.

The Deportation

On the 28th and 29th of October 1938, 17,000 Jewish people of Polish nationality, amongst them many children and young people, were deported from National Socialist Germany over the border into Poland. (This was later called Polenaktion or the deportation of stateless Polish refugees from Germany.) From the Rhineland and Westphalia, people were expelled to Zbąszyń, where a large refugee camp was established. Less than two weeks later, the National Socialists, the ruling power, staged the pogrom of the 9th and 10th November 1938 throughout the German Reich.

The Rescue

The pogrom in November meant that the general public became aware of the threat to Jews in Germany. Britain declared itself ready to accept up to 10,000 Jewish children. Hundreds of children and young people were also rescued by the so-called Kindertransports from what is today North Rhine-Westphalia. Children who had already been deported to Poland were included inthe rescue operation.

The city of Cologne played a special role in the organisation of Kindertransports from the Rhineland. The director of the Jawne Jewish Grammar School, Dr Erich Klibansky, made great efforts to send his entire school to safety in England. The title of the website is a quotation from the telegram with which Erich Klibansky announced the coming departure of the first Jawne group in January 1939. Children depart Tuesday 5.13 pm. Goodbyes at school.


Children depart 5.13 pm explores the stories of former child refugees from Nazi Germany, many of whom being rescued by a so-called Kindertransport, via first-hand testimonies.

The chapter Life Stories is about individual experiences of flight and exile, school classes reaching safety together before parting ways, about the fate of relatives left behind in Germany or Poland – and last but not least it is about memory itself.

Photo albums provide a deeper insight into family histories. Short film clips of interviews conducted in England, Israel and Cologne give an impression of the complexity of the memories the contemporary witnesses shared with us.

The heading Historical context provides background information about relevant dates, events and places.

Children depart 5.13 pm is an online presentation by the Jawne Memorial and Educational Centre. A part of the historic pictures and documents and many of the interviews you can read or listen to here were collected between 2009 and 2013 by project group Kindertransporte, a part of the Jawne Memorial and Educational Centre.

Members of the project group were Axel Joerss, Cordula Lissner, Ursula Reuter and Adrian Stellmacher and occasionally Leon Wilmanns as a photographer. The website was created as part two of the like-titled exhibition by the Jawne Memorial and Educational Centre, which was presented in 2013 at various venues in Cologne.

Website concept by Axel Joerss and Cordula Lissner

Children depart 5.13 pm
An online presentation by the Jawne Memorial and Educational Centre
Texts and editing: Cordula Lissner
Concept and design: Axel Joerss
Research, preliminary work and interviews with contemporary witnesses: project group Kindertransporte, part of the Jawne Memorial and Educational Centre (Axel Joerss, Cordula Lissner, Ursula Reuter, Adrian Stellmacher and Leon Wilmanns).
Copy editing: Philine Lissner and Ursula Reuter
Translation: Liz Heesom, James Heesom and Claire Merkord
Translation of additional texts: Philine Lissner

Subsidised by:
Landeszentrale für Politische Bildung
des Landes NRW