Ramsgate Montefiore Heritage talk on moving tale of The Kitchener Camp at Richborough

Men from the Kitchener Camp took part in the town carnival

The next Ramsgate Montefiore Heritage talk will come from author Professor Clare Ungerson, whose book ‘Four Thousand Lives’ relates the moving story of The Kitchener Camp at Richborough and its inhabitants.

Once a First World War army base, in the last war it was handed over to Jewish refugees who, mostly with their own hands, turned it into a small town behind wire.

Members of the British Jewish community in 1939 raised funds for the conversion of the site to a transit camp for mainly single Jewish men from Germany and Austria who had been released from concentration camps in the November Pogrom. The men had to agree to leave home immediately, often without their families.

Kitchener was run by two Jewish brothers, Jonas and Phineas May. They had experience running summer camps for the Jewish Lads’ Brigade, but this camp housed 4,000 traumatised men.

In December 1939, after the outbreak of war, the Kitchener men were encouraged to join the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps.

Archives suggest that 887 German and Austrian Kitchener men enlisted, with most forming part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to continental Europe at the start of 1940.

After the fall of France in May/June 1940 Kitchener camp was closed down. The refugees who had enlisted remained in the British Army, but were moved to Devon.

Professor Clare Ungerson will explore the connections between the refugees in Sandwich and the Jewish community in Ramsgate.

The talk will be at the Comfort Inn, Victoria Parade, Ramsgate, CT11 8DT on Wednesday, November 13 at 7pm. Members free, visitors £5. Tickets at the door.

With thanks to http://www.kitchenercamp.co.uk/ for additional details