London – Lambeth – Imperial War Museum (Kindertransport of Peter Needham)

I’ve been having another look at the photo collection of the Imperial War Museum and this is something I haven’t seen before (© IWM HU 88869). It’s an image taken at Prague Airport on 12 January 1939 of Peter Needham, a half-Jewish Czech boy, with his parents. He was part of a Kindertransport flight bringing him to safety, one of around 10,000 children that the UK accepted. Being realistic, he would have likely died if he hadn’t have had this opportunity.

Fortunately, the other side of this tale exists, and Peter (original surname of Niethammer) flew into Croydon Airport and had a happy life in the UK. His mother lived until 1993 and his parents had already commenced divorce proceedings.

An interview with Peter noted:

“Peter Needham (previously Niethammer), was born in May 1934 in Teplice, Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia). His Lutheran lawyer father, Fritz, was born in Aachen, Germany, on 6 February 1900; his assimilated Jewish mother Anna (nee Bergman), an economic research worker, was born in Most (previously Brux) on 5 November 1910. However, following the September 1938 Munich Agreement ceding the Sudetenland region to Nazi Germany, they divorced, and Anna took Peter to her wealthy parents’ home in Radic, near Prague, of which he retains happy memories.

Jews, though, were not entirely safe. After Anna’s discussion with German clergyman, Wilhelm (William) Wallner, The Barbican Mission to the Jews helped fly Peter, aged 4, from Prague to Croydon Airport, London, on 12 January 1939 with some 20 other children. She escaped soon after, then her parents on 31 March 1939. Peter’s uncles Hans and Seppl also escaped. Germany invaded and occupied rump Czechoslovakia mid-March 1939; a relative subsequently perished in the Holocaust.”

His full story is at https://www.ajrrefugeevoices.org.uk/RefugeeVoices/Peter-Needham.