A grandfather rescued from Nazi Germany by the Kindertransport almost 80 years ago has described himself as “a lucky guy” after cycling the route the train took with his son and grandson.
Paul Alexander was just 18 months old when he joined the thousands of children fleeing persecution at the hands of Hitler’s regime just before the Second World War broke out.
Britain took in 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children between 1938 and 1939, who had left their families behind in Germany, Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia, and this year charity World Jewish Relief organised a bike ride tracing the route they took to mark 80 years since the rescue began.
A group of 42 people from all over the world, including Mr Alexander, his son Nadav and grandson Daniel, set off last Sunday morning from Friedrichstrasse Station in Berlin where the first train departed in 1938.
They cycled to the Hook of Holland before taking a ferry to Harwich in Essex, arriving at London Liverpool Street Station on Friday evening.
Most of the cyclists are descendants of people rescued by the Kindertransport, but only Mr Alexander experienced the journey first-hand.
Mr Alexander, 80, was just a baby when his mother bravely handed her only child to a British volunteer nurse and waved goodbye at the station.
Speaking at the finish line, he said: “I have to thank World Jewish Relief for having organised the Kindertransport, for having organised my exit from Germany to England and I have to thank the British people for allowing 10,000 children to come in unaccompanied.”
He added: “Last but not least I have to thank my mum and dad for sending me away, alone – one can’t imagine what they must have thought about it, and my mother not knowing whether she would ever see me again.”
Mr Alexander, who lived in London until he was 24 and now lives in Israel, was reunited with his parents when he was about four or five.