Berlin, Germany

Berlin obviously played a crucial role in the story of the Boys, as it was the seat of the Nazi government, but it was also home to 16 of the Boys, who were born in the German capital, as well as one who joined the group in the UK.

A further three members of the Boys were deported from Berlin in 1942. Many of the Boys from Berlin were among the youngest children to survive the Holocaust. Gad Josef, who was the youngest of the Boys, was born in Berlin in 1942.

Josef like many of the Boys born in Berlin had been deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia. It was the destination for about 15,000 of the city’s Jews.


Jews had lived in Germany since Roman times but the Jewish community in Berlin was only properly established in the 18th century and flourished before the Nazis took power.

The community was highly assimilated but also included Orthodox Jews. It was represented in all areas of public life and in all social classes.

In 1933, Berlin was home to about 160,000 Jews and the community was the largest in Germany. Jews made up less than 1% of the German population.

Immediately after Adolf Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933 the Jews faced persecution.

On Kristallnacht in November 1938, Berlin’s synagogues were burned down and Jewish-owned shops and homes were looted. Thousands of Jews were arrested and taken to concentration camps.

Germany played a major role in the Boys story as after the Nazis took control the Central British Fund for Germany Jewry (CBF) was established in London. It was the CBF who organised the pre-war Kindertransports and who after the Second World War brought the Boys to the UK.

A number of the people involved in caring for the Boys came from Berlin, among them Oscar Friedman and Lola Hahn-Warburg, who played a major role in organising the Kindertransports. They were both members of the Committee for the Care of the Concentration Camp Children.


About 80,000 Jews were living in Berlin in 1939. Deportations began in October 1941. Jews were sent to ghettos, such as Lodz and Theresienstadt and to killing centres in the east. This is illustrated by the story of the Boys. The majority of the Jews who remained in the capital had been deported by April 1943.


Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Jewish life has returned to the German capital. Eighty years after Kristallnacht 30,000 Jews now live in Berlin but few are descendants of the Jews who lived in Berlin before the Second World War. The community includes a number of young Israelis.

The city has a major Jewish museum and the large Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is next to the Brandenburg Gate.

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