Thursday, January 24, 2008

It Really Is a Small World

We throw around the expression "it's a small world" without thinking much about it, but a confluence of events because of a post here at Kiko's House provides a rather startling example of that maxim.

Back in November I published "Return to the Schilderwald -- A Jew Comes Home After Sixty-Eight Years," a guest blog by a cousin who lives in New Zealand and, as the title implies, had gone back to Germany for the first time since 1939.

Country Bumpkin, my cousin's nom de plummage, had along with his parents fled their apartment in Berlin thanks to the intervention of Sir George Ogilvie Forbes, Counsellor at the British Embassy in Berlin, and his colleague the British Passport Control Officer, Captain Frank Foley, who obtained New Zealand visas for them.

As Mr. Bumpkin wrote:
"These men, frequently bending visa rules, were instrumental in saving many lives including mine and those of my father and mother. That is not to say the British government behaved badly over the German Jewish refugee problem, because they were in fact generous in taking people into Britain by the standards of the time. But after Kristallnacht in November 1938 the demand for visas vastly exceeded the supply, and most countries were parsimonious, to say the least, in granting them. (And New Zealand was one of these.) Yet more than half of Germany’s Jews were able to emigrate after 1933, with the enthusiastic support of the Nazis who wanted rid of them. Britain and the USA admitted more than half of them."
The story of my cousin's flight is extraordinary, as is the account of his homecoming, which included a visit to his parents' old apartment.

I have written about so many subjects, as well as publishing guest blogs, in the relatively short life of Kiko's House that a goodly number of visitors come there quite unintentionally through Google searches and otherwise by accident.
But in an even more extraordinary coda to Mr. Bumpkin's tale, I received an email this week from a gentlemen who had lived the very Berlin apartment building before recently moving to Sweden. I of course have put him in touch with my cousin.

Small world indeed!

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