Kindertransport to Belgium

In March 1939, I went on the Kindertransport to Belgium [from Vienna]. It’s generally thought that the Kindertransport was only for England. But people in Belgium, Holland & France also took children. I was just dispassionate about the whole thing.

I got to Brussels. The Neumann family. They had 2 small children of their own. They treated me as part of the family. I was made to write home to Vienna. I thought that was a bit of a chore rather than something that I was keen to do. The only time something went wrong, the only time I felt alienated, so to say, was when I caught mumps at school. Liesl Neumann, my–let’s call her foster mother–was anxious about her own little children. They lived in a 1930s house with a room upstairs & an open flat roof. It was very hot. The roof was tarred. I remember being exiled to this place, really felt unhappy. But that was the only time. Otherwise I had my first girlfriend, the niece of Hugo Neumann. We went to the cinema. I learnt to ride a bicycle. I got some very bad reports about my misbehaviour, but apart from that…

My older sister Ruth was very advanced for her age (13). She went to the Berlin Kindertransport offices to ask if we could be accepted after father was deported. They said 'No, we must look after our German Jewish children first' [the Blooms were Polish]. So she tried to get on Youth Aliyah [to go to Palestine]. They said 'You're too young. Come back next year. We don't take them at 13'.

She came back & said to my mother that while she was at the Kindertransport, she overheard a group of girls talking about going on the Kindertransport to Belgium. With a date when they will be leaving & the stations they were leaving from. She said, 'Mutti, there's only one solution for us. You buy Betty & myself a ticket for England so that we can say we're joining our uncle & aunt & we will join this Kindertransport & we will follow them to Belgium." My mother agreed to it. I'm 100% sure if my father had been alive, he would have said no, no way. But she was so courageous that on the 22nd of February 1939 she put us on a train leaving for Belgium not having any foster family to receive us just into the unknown. She bought me a beautiful shoulder bag. She put us on the train. The train started going & she managed to follow it I don't know how to the next station. I don't know. Anyway, we said goodbye & that was it.