Into the Arms of Strangers
The ripples of agony caused by World War II continue to reverberate and, sadly and amazingly, still yield fresh topics. The Oscar-nominated documentary Into the Arms of Strangers details the remarkable, little-known "kindertransport" of 1939 when, for nine months prior to the war, Great Britain offered refuge for Jewish and other children from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. More than 10,000 children were taken into foster homes and hostels with the expectation of being reunited with their families after the war; heartbreakingly, most never saw their parents again. Written and directed by Mark Jonathan Harris (of the Oscar-winning The Long Way Home) and made in conjunction with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the film presents some now adult "kinder" who chronicle their decisions to separate. Their stories yield humorous, astonishing, and tragic emotions. The film's most moving aspect is Harris' ability to expose the children and teenagers in these 60- and 70-year-olds, and how the years were not able to erase their sense of abandonment, fear, shame, guilt, and pain over their parents' incredible sacrifices.