Content can be downloaded for non-commercial purposes, such as for personal use or in educational resources.
For commercial purposes please contact the copyright holder directly.
Read more about the The Creative Archive Licence.


This audio clip is from an interview with Dorothy Fleming, recorded by the Imperial War Museums on 27 March 1996. In the clip, Dorothy discusses her journey on Kindertransport to England in January 1939.


We're not absolutely sure how my parents heard about the Kindertransport, because they weren't "about", but we think that the Jewish community must have used youngsters like Boy Scouts to go to the homes of families where they knew there were children and explain to them that this opportunity existed. And we actually have the application forms—two—one for me, and shortly after that, one for both my sister and myself.


You'll know that there were committees formed all over the country here—both Jewish ones and non-Jewish—to try and find places for these children to go, because the government had said they would accept 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children.


And so, my parents were prepared to send us to, to this country, convinced that they would be following.


So, we were given a place and we left on the 10th of January for England, and really that's a very dramatic story. My parents...we, we were allowed one piece of luggage each, and they took us to the Western Railway Station in the evening—it was always in the evening—and they were very sensible, they said their goodbyes, and were just about to leave. But I know that a lot of people were very upset, and some even snatched their children back; they just couldn't let them go. But we got into a compartment which was fairly full of children, and between us the older ones decided that the little ones would go on a luggage rack, which was made of netting; they would be more comfortable up there. So, we put my little sister up there, and she was promptly sick, which was actually very helpful, because the next half hour I was very busy, and my parents said "look after your sister, we must go now, and we'll follow you soon. Bye-bye" and off they went, which was very sensible. And indeed, they did follow eventually.

Now the, the journey started off with rumours going down the train that soon, when we got to the border, the Nazis would come and inspect our papers and our luggage, and if they found anything that we shouldn't have had, we might get sent back or there might be trouble. And they weren't rumours, it was true, and amongst our number was a little lad about eleven, whose father had given him the family gold watch—fob watch—and he got very panicky in case the Nazis found that. So, he dropped it into the slit of a ventilator, and they didn't find it, and we crossed the border having been examined and we all breathed a big sigh of relief, because it was very frightening. And, of course, from that moment onwards he was fiddling around trying to get the watch out, and never did. And I remember with all the wisdom of my ten and a half years, saying to him "look, it's only a watch. Your father would be very happy that you survived." But he was most distressed. I think the reason he had the watch was partly as, as a family heirloom, but partly his father would have thought maybe he can sell it and maybe live on it. There are pictures also of, of children who came with a violin—again, partly perhaps to sell, partly to make a living.

Dorothy Fleming - a short biography.

Dorothy Fleming was born in Vienna, Austria in 1928. She lived in a large flat in the fifth district of Vienna with her father who was an optician, her mother and younger sister. Their life was full and happy. They enjoyed opera, ice-skating and music. Dorothy attended the local Kindergarten and then primary school in Vienna.

When Dorothy was ten years old, Nazi-Germany took control of Austria in what was known as the Anschluss. After the Anschluss life changed dramatically for Dorothy and her family. Soon she was unable to go to her normal school. And after the Kristallnacht, her father lost his two optician shops. Left with no other choice, her parents arranged for Dorothy and her sister to travel to Britain on a Kindertransport promising that they would follow later.

After travelling to Britain, Dorothy lived in Leeds with her foster parents. Eventually, her parents were able to join Dorothy and her sister, and they lived in London in a small flat with other refugees. Dorothy had an uncle in South Wales who had set up a factory on the Treforest Trading Estate and she spent some time living with him. After a period when her father was interned on the Isle of Man, eventually her whole family were able to settle in Cardiff. Her father also worked on the Treforest Trading Estate making optical goods for the war. In Cardiff, Dorothy attended Howell's School. Later she went to university in Bath and became a teacher.


IWM">">IWM, Fleming, Dorothy (Oral History) [accessed 24 November 2021]

Depository: Imperial War Museums, catalogue number: 16600.

Comments (0)

You must be logged in to leave a comment