‘[W]e could deal [with children] in large numbers, provided they were sponsored by responsible bodies and responsible individuals.  Here is a chance of taking the young generation of great people… a chance of mitigating to some extent the terrible sufferings of their parents and their friends.’

These words, spoken by the Home Secretary, Samuel Hoare, to the House of Commons on 21 November 1938 led to some 10,000 mostly Jewish children being brought to Britain from Nazi Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia.  This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport, or Children’s Transport, the name given to the rescue movement which between December 1938 and September 1939 arranged for the safe movement and sponsorship in Britain of these children.

A.R. Wallace, Headmaster of Sherborne School 1934-1950.

Of the 10,000 Kindertransport children who came to Britain, three were taken in by Sherborne School.  At a meeting of the School Governors held on 9 June 1939, the Headmaster A.R. Wallace announced his intention to take in these boys, stressing that because they had absolutely no money the School would be financially responsible for them until the age of eighteen.

The first two Kindertransport boys to arrive at Sherborne School in the Summer Term of 1939 were Ernst Fuchs and Lothar Markiewicz, both aged 15.  Ernst joined The Green (then run by housemaster Sam Hey) and Lothar went to School House (run by the Headmaster A.R. Wallace).

Ernst Werner Fuchs was born in Berlin in 1924, the son of Dr Herbert Fuchs, a lawyer, and Grete Else Fuchs (née Lewin) of Meinekestraße 4, Charlottenburg, Berlin. He had an elder brother and sister, Günter and Vera, and had previously attended the Wilmersdorf Bismarck Gymnasium but had to leave when after 15 November 1938 Jewish children were banned from attending public schools.  With Ernst’s father also no longer allowed to practise as a lawyer, it was decided that Ernst should be sent to England, where he arrived alone on 21 June 1939.

Ellen Markiewicz’s passport © United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Lothar Hermann Markiewicz was also born in Berlin in 1924. He was the son of Max Markiewicz of Courbiere Strasse GA, Charlottenburg and Lotte Markiewicz (née Goldstein) of Berlin Friedenau, Fregestraße 78.  Lothar had previously attended the Holdhein Schule in Berlin, but when he and his younger sister Ellen were no longer allowed to attend school their mother got passes through the Kindertransport (permit numbers 4401 & 4402) to get them to England.  On 19 April 1939, Lothar and Ellen left Hamburg on the SS Manhattan with a group of 39 boys & 49 girls.  On their arrival at Southampton on 21 April, the Port Health Authority reported to the Ministry of Health that they had all been medically examined before disembarking and found to be healthy.  In the charge of ‘The Movement for the Care of Children from Germany’ they were sent by train to Liverpool Street Station in London where they were separated, each going to live with a different family.

It is impossible to imagine how these children felt on their arrival in Britain, separated from their parents and family and living in a country where they did not speak the language.  Through their Quaker sponsors in England, a place was found in May 1939 for Lothar at Sherborne School and the next year for Ellen at Sherborne Girls’ School.  Amazingly, some of Lothar’s school reports survive which reveal how he adapted to life in England.  His first school report, dated 6 June 1939, suggests he was a bright boy who was quickly mastering English, and in October 1939 his form master wrote of him, ‘Good.  Now that he has mastered the language he should go ahead quickly’.

By Michaelmas Term of 1940, Lothar’s sister Ellen was at Sherborne Girls’ School, but unfortunately this did not mean that she and Lothar were now able to see each other, because in July 1940 Lothar (now aged 16) had been taken from class at Sherborne and arrested as an enemy alien.  He spent three days in a prison cell in Dorchester before being taken to Liverpool and put on the now infamous HMT Dunera bound for Australia.  The Dunera left Liverpool on 10 July 1940 carrying 2,542 male ‘enemy aliens’, mostly Jewish refugees aged between 16 & 60, along with 451 German and Italian Prisoners of War.  Curiously, another prisoner on the ship was Heinz Brack who had taught at Sherborne School from 1936 until his arrest in September 1939 on suspicion of being a Nazi spy.

During the 57 day journey, later described by Winston Churchill as ‘a deplorable and regrettable mistake’, Lothar contracted rheumatic fever and nearly died.  The ship was hugely overcrowded and the prisoners’ conditions were appalling with men kept below deck for all but 30 minutes a day and fresh water supplied only two or three times a week.  When HMT Dunera arrived in Sydney on 6 September 1940, the Australian medical army officer was shocked by the conditions he found on the ship and his subsequent report led to the court martial of the officer-in-charge.

Lothar Markiewicz at Sherborne School, July 1942.

On arriving in Australia, Lothar was transferred to the Hay Internment Camps in New South Wales, where he was the second youngest internee.  Thankfully, however, through the agency of one of his Quaker sponsors in England and the Headmaster of Sherborne School, Lothar’s case was raised in the Houses of Parliament and his release was authorised, but due to fear of German U-boat attacks his return to England was delayed.  He eventually travelled back to England on board the troopship Stirling Castle, arriving at Liverpool on 28 November 1941 and returned to Sherborne School, where he remained until July 1942. Lothar’s return to Sherborne meant that he and Ellen were finally able to meet, although only occasionally, on Sundays.  In spite of having undergone such a traumatic time since leaving Germany in April 1939, in July 1942 Lothar passed the Oxford and Cambridge School certificate and matriculated.

Meanwhile, after spending a year at Sherborne, Ernst Fuchs left in Summer Term 1940 to attend Dean Close School in Cheltenham, where A.R. Wallace reported to Lothar ‘He seems to be getting on very happily’ and in December 1941 he passed the Oxford and Cambridge School certificate.  However, the British Enemy Alien Regional Advisory Committee had also been checking Ernst’s credentials and in September 1940 his case was heard before a tribunal, which reported: ‘This boy is a Jew, and has recently attained 16 years of age.  His father was a lawyer, and was forbidden to practise by the Nazis.  The parents and two other children are in Berlin.  The boy was not permitted to continue his education in Germany, and was brought to England on 21 June 1939. He lived for a short time at the house of the Bishop of Sherborne.  He is now being educated at Dean Close School, Cheltenham, the headmaster of which establishment – Mr Elder – attended as referee before the Advisory Committee, and vouched for the boy’s reliability from a security point of view.  He undertook to keep close supervision upon the alien’s correspondence as it was disclosed the boy has written to friends in Portugal and obtained news of his parents.  The Advisory Committee came to the conclusion that Fuchs is reliable from a security point of view.’

Ernst’s place at The Green was taken by another Kindertransport boy, 13 year old Ludwig Calvelli-Adorno.  Ludwig was born in 1927 in Frankfurt-on-Main, the son of Franz Wilhelm Calvelli-Adorno, a District Judge, and Helene (née Mommsen), a music teacher.  On 27 June 1939, Ludwig and his elder sister Elisabeth escaped Germany with the Kindertransport and were given a home in England by a childless couple with whom they stayed for a couple of years.  Ludwig remained at Sherborne School from September 1940 to July 1942 and in 1941 won the School’s Halliday Cup for Music (Junior).  He subsequently attended Watford Grammar School before finding employment as an accountant’s assistant.  He was also investigated by the British Enemy Alien Regional Advisory Committee who reported that ‘Nothing detrimental reported either by police or by M.I.5.  Given good report by person with whom he is living, and although a poor report was given by a previous landlady, there was nothing to show that alien was likely to be a menace to this country’.

But what became of Sherborne’s Kindertransport children after the war?

  • Ernst’s mother, father and brother all died in concentration camps. However, his sister Vera survived and she and Ernst meet up in Berlin in 1945. In 1952 Ernst married and had two children.  He died in Ely, Cambridgeshire in 2008, aged 84 years old.
  • Lothar’s father and grandmother both died in concentration camps. His mother survived the war, being one of a small number of Jews who remained in Berlin and were never caught.  Lothar taught for a while at St Bede’s School in Staffordshire and subsequently worked for himself in the textile industry. He married in 1950 and sent his son Michael to Sherborne School.  When he retired in 1993, Lothar and his wife moved to Sydney, Australia to join their son and his family who had moved there in 1981.  Lothar died in 2014, aged 90 years old.  Lothar’s sister, Ellen qualified as a state-registered children’s nurse and in 1951 she moved to the USA to join her mother.  There she married in 1959 and had two sons.  Ellen died in March 2018, aged 91 years old.
  • Ludwig’s parents and sister survived the war and in 1947 they met up in England. Ludwig went on to qualify as a chartered accountant and worked for Price Waterhouse in Germany.  His three sons all attended Sherborne School.  He died in 2009 aged 81 years old.

With very many thanks to Lothar’s son, Michael Markiewicz (a 74), for providing details about his father’s life and also copies of the letters written to him by A.R. Wallace while he was interned in Australia.

Rachel Hassall
School Archivist
22 November 2018

Kindertransport tag © Jewish Museum Berlin.

Further reading

‘Remembering the Kindertransport: 80 Years On’ exhibition at the Jewish Museum London

‘A wartime education’, by Ellen Markiewicz (Gerber), The Journal, 2014 (Sherborne Old Girls’ Society)

Ellen Markiewicz archive material held at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection.

Oral History interview made with Ludwig Calvelli-Adorno in 1997, USC Shoah Foundation Institute Visual History Archive

Jewish Museum London

Tasha Holtman, “A Covert from the Tempest”: Responsibility, Love and Politics in Britain’s KindertransportThe History Teacher 48, no. 1 (2014): 107-26.

Sherborne School and the Second World War 1938-1945

For further information about the Sherborne School Archives please contact the School Archivist

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