A train was about to depart the main railway station in Munich, Germany, at midnight in June 1939. The passengers were children, many of whom would never see their parents again. These children were Jews, part of a scheme called the Kindertransport that offered an escape route away from Hitler’s Germany and the coming Holocaust. One of the children on the train was 14-year-old Bea Green – and this is her story.
Bea Green was born Maria Beate Siegel in 1925 in the German city of Munich. Her early childhood alongside her older brother Hans Peter was unremarkable enough – and often happy. Her father Michael was a lawyer and her mother an artist, and the family owned a holiday home in the Bavarian countryside. But in 1933 something terrible happened to her father, and it was a harbinger of the horrors that were to come for Jews such as the Siegels in Hitler’s Germany.
In March 1933 – when Bea was just eight years old – her father happened to have a client who had been arrested without a warrant. This was a month after the Nazis had come to power in Germany and was an example of the thuggish lawlessness that was about to descend upon the nation.