A feature length film/drama ‘The Windermere Children’ commissioned by The BBC to commemorate the liberation of Auschwitz was broadcast on 27 January 2020 at 9pm on BBC2.
The Lake District Holocaust Project was the principal source for information about this film/drama and the accompanying documentary below and were present for two days at the end of filming.
“A sad, beautiful refugee story with an ending that took the breath away”
“I urge everyone to watch”
“It was outstanding and tear inducing. Very under-stated. Utterly wonderful. “
“From Bafta-nominated screenwriter Simon Block and Bafta and Emmy-winning director Michael Samuels, The Windermere Children is the first dramatisation of a remarkable true story about hope in the aftermath of the Holocaust, based on the powerful first-person testimony of survivors who began their new lives in the UK.
The drama is led by a stellar cast including Thomas Kretschmann (The Pianist), Romola Garai (The Miniaturist), Tim McInnerny (Strangers) and Iain Glen (Game Of Thrones).
Charged with looking after the children is child psychologist Oscar Friedmann (Kretschmann). Along with his team of counsellors, including art therapist Marie Paneth (Garai), philanthropist Leonard Montefiore (McInnerny) and sports coach Jock Lawrence (Glen), they have four months to help the children reclaim their lives.
By the lake, the children learn English, play football, ride bikes, express their trauma through painting – and begin to heal. some locals taunt them, but they are embraced by others. Haunted by nightmares, they yearn for news of their loved ones. When the Red Cross arrives with letters about the fates of their families, none of them receive good news. But in the absence of relatives, the children find family in each other.
The Windermere Children is the stark, moving and ultimately redemptive story of the bonds the children make with one another, and of how the friendships forged at Windermere sustain them as they rebuild their lives in the UK.” (BBC Media)
The Windermere Children – In Their Own Words
“Absolutely wonderful, powerful tv. As was the programme that followed. Not a dry eye in my house.”
“As was “The Windermere Children: in their own words” which followed on BBC4. This was very moving and gave some further background.”
During filming – Trevor Avery with Guy Arthur, Director, and Rajveer Sihota, Research Assistant
A documentary that accompanies the film/drama was broadcast on 27 January 2020 at 10.30pm on BBC4.
“The documentary tells the story of the pioneering project to rehabilitate child survivors of the Holocaust on the shores of Lake Windermere.
In the year that marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and the Holocaust, this powerful documentary reveals a little-known story of 300 young orphaned Jewish refugees who began new lives in England’s Lake District in the summer of 1945. The documentary accompanies the BBC Two drama, The Windermere Children.
With compelling first-hand testimony from some of the last living Holocaust survivors, this film explores an extraordinary success story that emerged from the darkest of times, all beginning with the arrival of ten Stirling bombers carrying the 300 children from Prague to Carlisle on 14 August 1945.
The survivor interviews include extraordinary first-hand accounts of both their wartime experiences, separation from families and the horrors they experienced, but also their wonder at arriving in Britain and their lives thereafter.
With powerful contemporary resonance, the film will reveal that many of the 300 who arrived as bewildered young refugees without a word of English or many possessions, and went on to forge successful lives in Britain, starting families of their own and giving back to the country that welcomed them in extraordinary ways.” (BBC Media)