Helga Landau


Helga Landau was born in Hagen, Germany. When she was sixteen her widowed mother sent her to England via one of the Kindertransports in May 1939. Prior to that, she and her mother lived in an apartment owned by Jewish people. Three other families moved in with them when forced out of their own homes. In England she lived for a time with a family in London (where she attended secondary school), and then in Bournemouth and in an internment camp on the Isle of Man. She made a living as a seamstress. Her mother’s letters went first to the U.S., then to England to Helga. After the war she married a German boy she had known before going to England. They emigrated to Lima, Ohio, where an aunt lived. Her mother and step-father also survived the war through people who helped them. Helga and her husband had two daughters, but were later divorced. Helga moved with her aunt to Dayton. She worked for many years at Reynolds & Reynolds Company.

The Kindertransport helped trainloads of Jewish children from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia reach the safety of Great Britain where they were taken into English homes. About 10,000 children, all forced to leave their parents and families behind, escaped Nazi-controlled territory between November 1938 and September 1939 when war broke out in Europe. Noel Baker, English House of Commons Labor Party member, made an impassioned plea for the rescue of Jewish children in German-occupied lands. It sparked a speedy collection of money by British Jews, with help from church groups, especially the Quakers and Methodists. The Kindertransport was one of the largest children’s rescue efforts in history. However, another million and a half Jewish children did not survive the Holocaust.