The last train from Prague

A story for Holocaust Memorial Day, recounting Milena Fleischmann's journey to England in 1939 as part of the 'kindertransport' arranged by Sir Nicholas Winton.

The video

Synopsis

The story is based on the experience of Milena Fleischmann, who as a young girl living in Prague in July 1939 was among a group of Jewish children who were sent to England by their parents to escape persecution by the Nazis.

It was a long journey by train and Milena, aged 9, was accompanied by her 4-year- old sister and 2-year-old cousin. She bravely said goodbye to her mother and grandparents and uncle at the station. The Germans had already come looking for her father and he had gone into hiding.

After two days and two nights on the train they arrived in London and later all three girls were taken to live with a family near Manchester.

Two months later, in September 1939, another train prepared to leave Prague with 250 Jewish children on board, but this time it was too late. The war had started and the train never set off. It’s believed that most of the children taken off that train died during the war.

Eventually Milena’s parents managed to escape from Czechoslovakia and joined her in England.

Video questions

  • Why were Milena, her sister and cousin making the train journey to England?
  • Why were the children travelling alone?
  • How long was the journey and what does Milena remember about the journey?
  • Why were Milena, Eva and Helen lucky to leave Prague in July, rather than waiting until September?
  • Milena, Eva and Helen were some of ‘Winton’s Children’. What do you know about Sir Nicholas Winton? How and why did he arrange for the children’s evacuation to England?

Activities

  • Tell the story of Milena, her sister and cousin as a comic book or graphic novel. Choose four or five key moments to represent in the ‘frames’ and illustrate them, adding words in the form of titles such as ‘The next moment...’ or ‘One week later...’. Show thoughts in ‘thought bubbles’ and speech in ‘speech bubbles’.
  • Write a poem about the events in the story, giving your feelings about what happened to Milena, her sister and cousin. You might include the unsuccessful journey of the 250 children who left in September.
  • You might like to use a contrast structure for your poem, comparing life for you and for Milena and the other refugees. For example: We go to school / They feared to go out / Our country is our home / Theirs became the enemy...
  • Find out about child refugees today and the organisations that are helping them. Is there anything that your class could do to help?

See also...

Transcript: The last train from Prague. Download / print a pdf copy of the story.
Sir Nicholas Winton. The story of Sir Nicholas Winton (1909 - 2015), told by his daughter, Barbara.
Resources for Holocaust Memorial Day. A collection of resources to help you mark HMD on 27 January.
A history of the Kindertransport. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.