Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport | Chicago Reader

Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport

An excellent documentary by Mark Jonathan Harris (2000), narrated by Judi Dench, that chronicles the experiences of a few members of the Kindertransport—about 10,000 children from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, most of them Jewish, who were saved from the Holocaust by parents who packed them off to England in the late 30s. Contemporary interviews have been combined with highly evocative home movies and still photographs of the children with their real as well as their adopted families, and the strength of this epic story rests above all in the experiences and personalities of the men and women they have become. Emerging from their collective accounts is a sense of a lost paradise. To my taste, the only serious drawback to this absorbing film is Harris's unimaginative adherence to documentary convention, which obliges him to “illustrate” the voice-overs even when the material matches the narratives only in fictional terms; unless we try to sort out the genuinely illustrative documents from the fanciful, we get stuck in an alienated zone of bland acceptance that serves neither the subject nor the people involved.

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