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Elsa Shamash

Elsa was born in 1927 in Berlin. Her father was a doctor who started the first state registered school for radiographers in Berlin. Elsa and her brother had happy childhoods with long summer holidays both in Germany and abroad. Growing up, Elsa remembered seeing Nazi propaganda everywhere, but she was saved from abuse because she didn’t look Jewish, in fact her photograph was used in a poster showing a typical German girl. Kristallnacht was followed by days of terror and the family made the decision to leave. Elsa and her brother were given places on the Kindertransport in March 1939 and her parents were able to join them the following month.

Elsa Shamash

Heinz and I left on the Kindertransport on 2 March, 1939. Parting from our mother and father was very difficult but I think the survival instinct in me overtook all other emotions; I was old enough to understand what was happening and why we needed to leave. I don’t know how Heinz felt; I think we were too frightened to discuss our feelings.

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