Into The Arms Of Strangers: Stories Of The Kindertransport

Into The Arms Of Strangers: Stories Of The Kindertransport

5.0 3
Director: Mark Jonathan Harris

Cast: Mark Jonathan Harris, Judi Dench

     
 

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On November 9, 1938, Adolph Hitler's ugly war against the Jews began in earnest with the "Kristallnacht," in which Nazi troops joined with angry mobs to attack synagogues, Jewish-owned businesses, and residents of predominantly Jewish neighborhoods. While Hitler did not initially make clear his plans for a genocide of Germany's Jews, he openly stated his desire that… See more details below

Overview

On November 9, 1938, Adolph Hitler's ugly war against the Jews began in earnest with the "Kristallnacht," in which Nazi troops joined with angry mobs to attack synagogues, Jewish-owned businesses, and residents of predominantly Jewish neighborhoods. While Hitler did not initially make clear his plans for a genocide of Germany's Jews, he openly stated his desire that Germany be free of Jews. Few nations were willing to accept the large numbers of German Jews who now wished to expatriate in fear of their lives. However, Great Britain agreed to permit Jewish children between the ages of 5 and 17 to come to the U.K. -- without their parents. Between December of 1938 and August of 1939, some 10,000 German children gained refuge in the U.K. Most were adopted by British families, and many of the older boys served in the British Army, fighting against the Nazis, but the majority were never to see their birth parents again. Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport is a documentary that looks at the "Kindertransport," which ferried the children to Great Britain, and what became of the children once they arrived in England. Judi Dench narrates.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Todd Kristel
Into the Arms of Strangers takes a neglected aspect of a heavily documented period in history and makes it emotionally meaningful. Granted, this story doesn't require a hard sell, since this documentary involves children fleeing from the Holocaust. Also, the film doesn't thoroughly explore the historical and political background of this story, such as the reasons why the United States didn't set up a similar program (although the film does note that some American politicians opposed the plan because, they said, it was against God's will to separate children from their parents). The use of stock footage and archival materials isn't particularly innovative, although the way the camera pans slowly over the faces in photographs is quite effective; and while Judi Dench is a fine choice for narrator, the film works better when narration is used sparingly. The reason why Into the Arms of Strangers is so affecting is because of the interviewees, including several former "kinder," a parent, a foster parent, and a couple organizers. They personalize the Kindertransport through lengthy, articulate, candid, and detail-filled comments spoken directly to the camera. These descriptions convey the children's feelings of abandonment and loss, the parents' feelings of frustration and guilt, the foster parents' struggles to understand the children, and the pent-up sorrow and anger that they all felt. We learn about the emotional toll of these experiences through revealing moments in the children's lives: realizing that Nazism had reached your world when nobody shows up at your birthday party; going to people's homes and asking them to help your parents get visas; lying to your foster parent about your sister's hair color so he'll accept her into his household; getting pulled by your father out of a train window because he couldn't bear parting with you; discovering what happened to your parents in the concentration camps; and reuniting with parents you hadn't seen in years. The latter part of the film pays particular attention to former "kinder" Kurt Fuchel; we learn about his experiences through the perspectives of his biological parents, his foster mother, and Kurt himself. This helps us understand what the Kindertransport meant to the different people who were involved, as well as raising some interesting questions about the definition of a family. Into the Arms of Strangers won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and the American Cinema Editors' Award for Best Edited Documentary Film; it was also nominated for the Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing.

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Product Details

Release Date:
08/28/2001
UPC:
0085391887232
Original Release:
2000
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Home Video

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