On February 10, 2017, concert pianist and award-winning actress Mona Golabek will touch the audience with her music and her mother’s moving story as one of the unaccompanied Jewish children who escaped to England in 1938 via the Kindertransport programme.
The Kindertransport (German for children’s transport) was an organised rescue effort that took place during the nine months prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. The UK took in nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children, who were placed in British foster homes, schools and hostels. Often they were the only members of their families who survived the Holocaust.
The children were spared the horrors of the death camps, but they were uprooted and separated from their parents. And they were transported to a different culture: here, they encountered a very human mixture of kindness, indifference, occasional exploitation, and above all the selflessness of ordinary people faced with needy children.
Mona wrote a bestselling memoir called The Children of Willesden Lane after hearing stories told by her mother Lisa Jura, a young piano prodigy born in Vienna, Austria. She escaped the Nazis, arrived in England and eventually fulfilled her dream of becoming a concert pianist.
Mona says of her mother that “imagination allowed her to survive the horrors of what she experienced”; Lisa was asked by her own mother, before bidding farewell and boarding the Kindertransport train, to “Hold on to your music and let music be your friend”.
Mona was inspired and taught by her mother to become a concert pianist. She is a Grammy Award nominee and the subject of several documentaries including Concerto for Mona with conductor Zubin Mehta. She has turned her bestselling book into a most inspiring one-woman show The Pianist of Willesden Lane, which has received critical acclaim.
She also set up an educational programme for students to learn from history and spread a message of tolerance.
Given the current refugee crisis, Mona Golabek’s work seems more important and relevant than ever, and this intimate event will allow audiences to explore humanity and compassion in a world where the terrors of war are never far away.
Every audience member attending the event will receive a free copy of the book.