A number of previous initiatives have captured elements of the story of The Boys. These include ’45 Aid Society journals, a book by Sir Martin Gilbert and a documentary film by Herb Krosney in the 1990s, individual stories published by some of The Boys and a TV drama and documentary in 2020 about the first group of The Boys brought to the UK.
As time has passed, it has become clear that, due to the enormous historical significance of The Boys, the details of their story need to be recorded in one place. This is even more important as we lose the opportunity to hear from The Boys in person. We decided to undertake an ambitious archive project to gather this information online, making it searchable and available to their families for future generations.
In 2020, we launched a project, to research The Boys’ stories further and to present our findings in an archive online. Writer and Journalist, Rosie Whitehouse, headed the research team, working alongside project leader and ‘45 Aid Society Vice Chairman, Philip Burton, with the help of web designer, Joel Solon. A team of interns was recruited from the grandchildren of The Boys (the 3rd generation) and others connected to the ’45 Aid Society. The Covid-19 pandemic meant the team had to work remotely and weekly team meetings were held over Zoom.
The research team was tasked with documenting the detail of The Boys’ story, including how they arrived in the UK, where they stayed on arrival and who looked after them. Through this project, the team has created an archive which serves as both a central historical research tool and as a memorial to the communities where The Boys were born as well as a celebration of the lives of The Boys themselves.
Project Timeline: how the project began, grew and developed
2018 - Research in to the hostels of The Boys
The ’45 Aid Society asked writer and journalist, Rosie Whitehouse, to help. Rosie’s work in tracing the Boys in the Ascot hostel inspired a wider scale research project – to research each of the 40+ hostels where The Boys were cared for after their arrival in the UK.
2019 - Research into profiles of The Boys
Further research was undertaken, by Rosie Whitehouse, in 2019, in archives in London, Prague and Yad Vashem, Jerusalem. This revealed a more complex narrative about The Boys, which unearthed further details of their story that was previously undiscovered.
2020 – Online archive team recruited
The research team created a short profile on each of The Boys. Inevitably, some profiles are more detailed than others, due to the information available, and as many Boys moved abroad so they were more difficult to trace. We hope to add further details with input from their families in due course.
2020 – Research into the birthplaces of The Boys
Identifying the birthplaces of The Boys became an important focus of the project. Gaby Schwarzmann, a member of the research team, gave us the idea of documenting all the birthplaces on a map. With professional mapmaker, Erica Milwain, the team developed an interactive map, which pinpoints the birthplaces of The Boys across Europe.
2021 - Online archive completed
The final phase of the project was completed with publication of the online archive in the History section of the website. Details are now available of The Boys, their origins, their hostels in the UK and the key figures who cared for them.
Using the archive
The history archive provides an important educational tool. With the prior permission of the ’45 Aid Society, the information contained in the history section of the website can be used in schools, colleges, universities and other institutions. If you wish to use any of this material, click here to contact us for authorisation.
This research is work in progress. For this reason, we have provided a comment box below the profiles. You can use this to provide us with photos, more information and feedback.
We recognise the significant achievements of the research team. The main contributors to the research are:
Rosie is the ’45 Aid Society’s Historical Advisor and is the head of the research team. Rosie is a journalist specialising in Jewish life after the Holocaust. She writes for BBC Online, the Observer, The Independent, Tablet magazine, The Jewish Chronicle, Haaretz and others. She is the author of the critically acclaimed The People on the Beach: Journeys to Freedom After the Holocaust (Hurst, 2020). A graduate of the London School of Economics, Rosie is also a founding member of the Ascot Holocaust Education Project.
Emily is the granddaughter of David Herman. She has a Batchelor’s degree in History and Spanish from the University of Leeds, and is now running sustainability and development projects for a food charity. Emily is key member of the archive research and website team. She coordinated the team of interns, conducted research at the Wiener Library, led production of the interactive maps and wrote a number of hostel and survivor profiles.
Gaby is currently doing a Master’s degree in History at Oxford University. While working for the ’45 Aid Society, she researched and wrote profiles of The Boys, mostly from the second group. She also worked closely with Rosie and Emily to compile the map of The Boys’ hometowns.
Amy is the granddaughter of Victor Greenberg, one of The Boys who came to the UK as part of the third group. Amy helped to write profiles for many of The Boys, researching and retelling the stories of their time in the war and how they came to the UK. She is a student at the University of Bristol, studying Geography with Innovation (MSci).
Zac was responsible for researching and creating several of the biographical profiles on the website. Zac is currently a student at Bristol University studying Economics and Management and is the grandson of one of The Boys, Victor Greenberg. Primarily responsible for completing the profiles of the fourth group of The Boys, who almost all came from the Carpathian Mountains, Zac was able to explore stories similar to that of his grandfather's, who was also born in the area.
Ruby is in the final year of sixth form at Withington Girls’ School and hopes to read English Literature at Bristol University after a gap year. During her time volunteering for the ’45 Aid Society, she researched and wrote profiles about the lives of The Boys and the people who helped them, both in Europe and the UK.
Hannah Hopkins is Victor Greenberg's granddaughter. She is 18 years old and is currently attending Oxford University to study English language and literature. She worked on the project with her cousin Amy Greenberg, researching the stories of The Boys. She helped write the biographies for The Boys, mapping out their individual journeys.