Steve was born in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland) in 1926. His parents were both musicians who would often entertain friends, of all faiths, at their family home. Steve had a brother, Walter, who was born in 1930. Their family lived happily together until 1933 when Hitler came to power.

Steve has fond memories of his childhood. He and his friends, most of whom were not Jewish, used to enjoy playing football and racing their bicycles. After the 1936 Olympics, held in Germany, Steven noticed a change in the attitudes of his friends. Many of them stopped talking to him, and when confronted by Steve as to the reason for this, one replied that his father had stopped them from talking with Jews. Steve’s confidence was hugely affected by this, and his once happy and active social life was ruined.

Things only got worse after the November Pogrom. Steven’s father was arrested and sent to Buchenwald concentration camp, where he remained for 14 weeks. Miraculously, Steven’s father survived this ordeal. However, he was in a bad way when he got home and was bedridden for weeks. Steven and Walter were not allowed to visit him as their mother thought it would be too traumatic for them.

In March 1939 a letter arrived offering places for Steven and Walter on the Kindertransport to England, which would ensure their safety. This was a difficult decision for Steven’s mother to make, especially with their father still recovering, however she decided to send them on the transport. Steven remembers the day they let, and the pain etched on the faces of his family members that came to see he and Walter off.


  1. Can you think of a story that an older person has shared with you from when they were around your age? You might want to share that with your partner
  2. Why do you think it is important to listen to other people’s stories?
  3. How does it help us know about the past?

You can download Steve's story here


You can download Steve's literacy activity here

With your partner come up with 3 things you would like to know more about?


At the National Holocaust Centre and Museum we work with survivors. These are people who experienced what it was like to be Jewish and live in a country that the Nazis had control over.  They come to the museum and share their stories with classes just like yours.

These survivors are all very old now. We have worked hard to record their stories and even record them answering the most common questions they were asked by people your age.

Watch this short clip of Steve sharing his experiences on the train after he was forced to leave his family, his home and everything he knew to come to England and be safe.

Steve Kindertransport


Discuss with your partner how Steve might have felt on the train. What might be have been worried about?


Listen to Steve explain what it was like when he arrived in England as a refugee

Steve's arrival in England


You can now use the Forever Project to ask Steve some questions about that journey and about arriving in England as a refugee in 1939 

View experience

Steve mini experience

You may wish to hear more of Steve’s story. Our generous funders at

The Association of Jewish Refugees have an archive of testimonies which you can request access to :

Steven Mendelsson (