BERLIN – Nearly 80 years after the first "Kindertransport" evacuations of Jewish children to safety in Britain, 42 people set off Sunday on a memorial bike ride that will retrace their journey by rail from Berlin to London.
The cyclists set off from Berlin's Friedrichstrasse station, where a statue commemorates the 10,000 mostly Jewish children who made it to Britain from Nazi Germany and elsewhere in Europe starting in late 1938.
Organized by the British-based World Jewish Relief group, the ride is retracing the route that the trains took. It's expected to take the riders six days to get to London's Liverpool Street station.
Among the saved children was Paul Alexander. The only participant in the ride who was on a Kindertransport — "children's transport" — he was joined by his 34-year-old son, Nadav, and 14-year-old grandson, Daniel.
"This ride is for me a victory ride. It's one of celebrating a good life," he said. "I'm riding also in honor of my mother and father who sent me away and had the courage and foresight to save me to send me away from the Holocaust."
"It's a ride I do every 80 years," joked Alexander, whose mother reluctantly sent him — at age 1 — to safety abroad. He was able to reunite with his family in England, where they settled. He later moved to Israel.
Some didn't see parents again
Many of the rescued children never saw their parents again.
As Sunday's ride started, the cyclists gathered for a safety briefing and the Jewish prayer for travelers. The British ambassador and German government representatives gathered to see them off.
"Our past is a reminder to fight against anti-Semitism, racism and other forms of discrimination," said German Foreign Ministry representative Karina Haeuslmeier.
"We owe this to the children who survived and those who didn't."