From January 14-March 15, 2024, the Leo Baeck institute will feature an exhibit called “Leave the Land” about the Kitchener camp, a largely forgotten rescue that saved 4000 lives, mostly young men from Germany and Austria. Horrified by Kristellnacht and the subsequent arrest of thousands of Jewish men, the British Jewish community – the same group that created the kinder transport – convinced the British government to allow them to take over a decrepit military training camp in Sandwich, England and transform it into a transit camp for young Jewish men who ultimately would move to other countries. The men renovated the camp to make it habitable and self-supporting.
Victor Cohn was one of the lucky young men chosen from thousands of German applicants to come to Kitchener. He arrived in April 1939 and was assigned to the crew that transformed barren land into a productive farm. Soon after he arrived, he found a job for his young wife, Kitty, who obtained a visa to work as a domestic servant.
Ann Rolett tells the story of Kitty and Victor Cohn based on her interview with Kitty in the 1990’s, Kitty’s photo album, independent research, and photos and details about the Kitchener camp gleaned from the Kitchener Camp descendants project.
Kitty was Ann’s mom’s first cousin, her closest surviving relative. In 1945, Victor returned to Berlin with the British occupying force. He found and did everything he could to help Ann’s mother Ingrid Sacks, her grandmother and uncle who had survived the war in hiding. For more information about the Leave the Land Exhibit, click here: https://www.lbi.org/exhibitions/leave-to-land-exhibit/