Most of those youngsters, Tomy included, fell victim to the Third Reich. However, in the months beforehand, 669 other children had been rescued, among them Eve. Their lives were saved by the efforts of one man, Sir Nicholas Winton.
This week as 22 of ‘Winton’s Children’ gathered in Prague for the unveiling of a statue in his honour and to board a commemorative train recreating their journeys to Britain, an emotional Eva told TJ that Tomy was “a kind brother and clever boy”.
“I think maybe he would have followed his father in his profession as a lawyer,” she said. “I think the world lost a good citizen.”
The same could be said of her saviour Winton. “You can’t honour him enough because he’s just such a good man,” mused the 78-year-old, whose husband and cousin have joined her on the trip.
After boarding the steam train on Tuesday, the former teacher has spent the past few days meeting fellow evacuees on a journey which will end at Liverpool Street Station tomorrow – the same location the children arrived at all those years ago.
Choking back the tears, she forecast how she would feel when the train pulled into the station. “I shall remember my English ‘mother’… I think that probably the English people that took us in have not been honoured enough. Some of the children did not have good experiences, but I think that a lot did. They were given more than just safety and a roof over their heads – they were actually cared for and loved and given a future, given an education.”
While this week’s journey covered the same ground the Kinder took seven decades ago, the circumstances and the state of the passengers could not have been more different. Eve said she had left in June 1939 “a bewildered rather frightened little child not knowing where I was going and not knowing what the future held for me”. She would, however, return to Liverpool Street “an adult, reasonably successful, in a happy marriage and having found the remnants of my cheque family”.
“I feel that it has been a kind of symmetrical completion of a lifetime’s journey. We left under very tragic circumstances and we’ve been able to come back and repeat the journey as rounded, happy citizens.”
And she is in no doubt about who is responsible for the opportunity she was given to live out her life. Expressing hope that she would have another opportunity to meet to Sir Nicholas at the station on Friday, she told TJ: “I can’t think of anything better to say to him than simply ‘thank you’. What else can you say? I just thank him for an extra 70 years of my life.”
Among the other Kinder who are hoping to see her 100-year-old saviour on Friday at Liverpool Street is Liesl Silverstone.
A member of the London Jewish Cultural Centre’s Holocaust Survivor Speaker’s programme, she recalled: “When I arrived at Liverpool Street Station, I was very confused and puzzled.
“It will be very strange being there again. The last thing my father ever said to me was ‘see you soon’ and ‘be my brave little girl’. At 11-years-old you believe everything that your parents tell you, but it didn’t happen.”
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