Leave to Land: The Kitchener Camp Rescue, 1939
26 March 2020 - 6 May 2020
The Wiener Holocaust Library, 29 Russell Square, London
The Kitchener Camp has been largely forgotten today, but in 1939 this derelict army base on the Kent coast became the scene of an extraordinary rescue in which 4,000 men were saved from the Holocaust. The Leave to Land exhibition draws on materials collected for the Kitchener Camp Project (a unique online resource that brings together archival records and family treasures) and items from the Library’s own collections.
During Kristallnacht in November 1938, 25,000 – 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps. They were subjected to starvation and torture, and hundreds died or were killed. A condition of release from the camps was that the men had to undertake to leave Germany immediately. As country after country refused to take more refugees, 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.
Official Kitchener records are scattered widely, missing, or have been destroyed, but it is estimated that approximately 4,000 men were rescued between February 1939 and the start of the Second World War in September 1939. The aim of the Kitchener Camp Project has been to rebuild this forgotten history by bringing together both scattered archival materials and the personal records kept for many decades by Kitchener refugees and their families.