Kitchener camp men
Residents of the Kitchener Camp, 1939.
Wiener Holocaust Library Collections

The Kitchener Camp has been largely forgotten today, but in 1939, this derelict army base on the Kent coast became the scene of an extraordinary rescue in which 4,000 men were saved from the Holocaust.

The Leave to Land travelling exhibition was authored by Clare Weissenberg and was based on materials collected through The Kitchener Camp Project, a unique online resource that brings together archival records and family treasures to build a moving and compelling picture of this unlikely sanctuary.

During Kristallnacht in November 1938, 25,000 to 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps. They were subjected to starvation and torture, and hundreds died or were killed. A condition of release from the camps was that the men had to undertake to leave Germany immediately. As country after country refused to take more refugees, the Kitchener rescue began. It was funded and run by the same, mainly Jewish, aid organisations that funded and coordinated the Kindertransport and Domestic Service Visa schemes.

Official Kitchener records are scattered widely, missing, or have been destroyed, but it is estimated that approximately 4,000 men were rescued between February 1939 and the start of the Second World War in September 1939. The aim of the Kitchener Camp Project has been to rebuild this forgotten history by bringing together both dispersed archival materials and the personal records kept by Kitchener refugees and their families.

The Wiener Holocaust Library is proud to support and display this touring exhibition, which will be displayed alongside original documents about the Kitchener Camp from the Library’s own unique collections.

Past Events

Watch Events

  • Exhibition Launch: Remembering The Kitchener Camp

    To mark the launch of the Leave to Land exhibition at the Library, Antony Lishak explored the significance of this remarkable act of humanitarianism. With reflections from Clare Weissenberg.

  • Exhibition Talk: The Kitchener Camp Rescue

    In this talk, Professor Clare Ungerson explored how it came about that 4,000 German Jewish refugee men moved from Greater Germany to live in an old army camp on the edge of the small town of Sandwich in East Kent in 1939.

Explore our online exhibition to find out more about official Kitchener Camp records and individual refugee stories from the Library’s archives.

An orchestral recital taking place at the Kitchener Camp with Jewish refugees in 1939.
Wiener Holocaust Library Collections
Image of interior of exhibition

The Leave to Land travelling exhibition is available to hire from the Library.

Calling all Kitchener Camp residents and their descendants

If you are looking for a permanent home for original family papers and photographs documenting the experiences of refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe, consider entrusting them to us. We are still actively collecting documents, correspondence, photographs and ephemera (contemporary leaflets, programmes, publications etc), not only from the Nazi period but also from earlier eras before the persecution.

We can offer a safe and secure environment, archive conservation, cataloguing, and an invigilated reading room for our visitors to consult the material.

If you would like to speak to the Library about documents you wish to donate, please contact our Senior Archivist, Howard Falksohn.