Essex

Kindertransport child refugee who fled Nazis to retrace journey

Paul Alexander, 80, and his grandson Daniel, 14, Image copyright PA
Image caption Paul Alexander, 80, and his grandson Daniel, 14, are taking part in a commemorative cycle ride from Berlin to London

An 80-year-old refugee who arrived in Britain from Nazi Europe as a toddler is taking part in a cycle ride to mark the rescue of 10,000 children.

Paul Alexander will retrace the first journey of the Kindertransport rescue for the 80th anniversary.

The rescue was organised after the anti-Jewish violence of Kristallnacht in Germany in November 1938.

An evacuation of mostly Jewish children to Britain saw the first arrivals in Harwich, Essex, in December 1938.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The first destination for many new arrivals was Dovercourt Bay holiday camp, near Harwich, where they enjoyed their first meal.

The effort continued until war broke out nine months later.

Most of the cyclists will be descendants of people rescued by the Kindertransport, but Mr Alexander experienced it firsthand.

He was 19 months old when his mother handed him to a British volunteer nurse, arriving in England six weeks before the outbreak of the war.

Mr Alexander said he had no recollection of the journey, and his first memories were of being in the London Underground during bombing.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Paul Alexander was reunited with his parents aged four or five

His father was released from Buchenwald detention camp on condition that he left the country, and his mother managed to escape to Britain days before the outbreak of war.

Mr Alexander said the three of them were reunited when he was aged four or five, but he knew he was one of the lucky ones.

He said more than half of children on the Kindertransport did not see their parents again.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Paul Alexander's father Alfons spent time in the Buchenwald Nazi detention camp

"I was saved from the Holocaust, sent to a lovely country where I grew up integrated into British life and I'm a lucky guy," he said.

Mr Alexander qualified as a solicitor in London aged 24 and moved to Israel, where he still lives, in the 1970s after meeting his wife.

On Sunday a group of 42 cyclists will retrace the route of the first journey from Berlin and the Hook of Holland, taking a ferry to Harwich before arriving at London Liverpool Street on 22 June.

The cyclists are aiming to raise more than £100,000 to support World Jewish Relief's work with people living in poverty around the globe.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some of the Jewish children who arrived in Harwich from Germany were temporarily housed at Dovercourt camp

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