Picks and Pans Review: Into the Arms of Strangers

updated 09/25/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/25/2000 01:00AM

Documentary

Mothers and fathers had only a few days in which to fill a single suitcase with clothing and family keepsakes for the long journeys that their children would be making alone. There seemed even less time to pack into a child's head and heart the lessons they had assumed there would be a lifetime to teach.

Yet in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and '39, that was the agonizing task facing Jewish parents who signed their children up for the kindertransports, a massive humanitarian effort over-seen by the British (and consented to by the Nazis, who were still letting Jews leave) that allowed 10,000 kids to flee their homelands (and the coming Holocaust) by boarding trains bound for England and waiting foster families. This moving documentary features old footage and interviews with now elderly transport participants. Some adapted readily to their new families and country, but all remember feelings of dislocation and loss. As escapee Bertha Leverton says here, "Every parent promised their child, 'We will soon come and follow.' " It was a promise few would be able to keep. (PG)

Bottom Line: Haunting memories

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