Sydney and Golda Bourne (previously Baum) saved the life of one Jewish German girl by agreeing to look after her as part of the Kindertransport program. Today, Susanne Kenton and her family remember the people who enabled her to survive in the face of genocide and tyranny.
It must have been very difficult for them to cope… I shall be for ever grateful to them.
Aged four and two, Sydney and Golda arrived in London with their respective families in the early 20th century. Sydney was a tailor, and Golda was the daughter of a tailor known to the locals as ‘Stitcher.’ Both Jewish migrants from Russia, they married and built their lives in the United Kingdom. They owned a small dress shop business in Neasden. A young couple, in their 20s, they had two very young children when Susanne Flanter arrived in their lives seeking refuge from Nazi persecution.
Susanne and her family suffered through Kristallnacht, and the intensifying antisemitic violence engulfing Germany on the eve of the Second World War. When she arrived in Waterloo Station she was alone in this foreign land, unable to communicate in English.
Despite the significance of the decision to foster a 13 year old refugee, particularly for young parents with little wealth, Sydney had not told Golda that he had agreed to foster Susanne. Golda only discovered this momentous truth when Susanne arrived alongside Sydney on her doorstop. In an ironic similarity, Susanne had not told her parents in Berlin that she had applied to go to England until the day that she found out that Sydney had agreed to foster her. Sydney and Golda acted as foster parents to Susanne from the day that she first arrived in Waterloo Station to the day that she married her husband, on 8 June 1947.
Throughout the war, Sydney, Golda, their two infant children and Susanne moved repeatedly as a result of the heavy bombardment of London. Susanne recalls living in at least six different locations throughout the war. At one point they left London altogether, when they moved to Hove to find refuge from the bombs. There they witnessed wounded British soldiers returning from the Dunkirk evacuations.
The Baums extended their generosity and kindness to Susanne’s parents in Berlin, for whom they agreed to act as guarantors in order for them to gain entry to the United Kingdom and escape the horrors of Nazi Germany. This would have involved paying a significant sum of money. It was, however, too late for Susanne’s parents, who were deported from Berlin. Susanne has since discovered that her parents were sent to Minsk, where they died.
After the war, Sydney and Golda had their third child, and eventually changed their name from Baum to Bourne. Sydney continued to work in the garment trade until his retirement. Syndey died in 1987, Golda in 2009.
‘I just thought that they should be remembered for saving my life.’
As one of around 10,000 children who escaped Nazi Germany through the Kindertransport program, Susanne’s story is horribly familiar: the vast majority of these children would never see their parents again. On Holocaust Memorial Day, we remember those who were left behind, and we remember the sacrifices made by those who extended a helping hand.
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