This deeply moving and inspiring documentary, winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature of 2000, focuses on the "Kindertransport," a humanitarian effort conducted during the months prior to World War II. Some 10,000 Jewish children from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia were sent by their families to safety in foster homes and hostels in Britain. As a rescue operation, it was an act of mercy without historical precedent. (A bill to take in children in the United States died in Congress on account of the idea that accepting boys and girls without their parents was "contrary to the laws of God.")
Writer and director Mark Jonathan Harris and producer Deborah Oppenheimer use home movies, photographs, and current-day interviews to convey the diverse stories of the children and their hosts. Although some were reunited with their parents, most never saw their loved ones again.
In an interview, Harris has stated: "I'm very interested in the idea of resilient children how they confront and cope with a catastrophe of this enormous magnitude. And how they adjust to it." The grown-ups who talk about their childhood experiences in England touch the heart with their accounts of separation, loss, isolation, and fear.
But equally moving are the memories of those who took these children into their homes offering them a sanctuary from the ravages of war. They bear witness to how important the spiritual practice of hospitality is in a world where violence and hatred are still very strong. This extraordinary documentary can be seen and experienced as a profound meditation on this thought by Francis Bacon: "If one be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows you are a citizen of the world."