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Cyclists retrace Jewish child refugees’ journey to Britain

June 17, 2018 GMT
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Paul Alexander stands in front of a commemorative statue, dedicated to perpetuating the memory of the 'Kindertransport' (children transport), near the train station Friedrichstrasse in Berlin, Sunday, June 17, 2018. Paul Alexander, one of the children whose life was saved with the transports from Berlin to London, attends a memorial bike ride from Berlin to London to mark the Kindertransport's 80th anniversary. (AP Photo/Miriam Karout)
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Paul Alexander stands in front of a commemorative statue, dedicated to perpetuating the memory of the 'Kindertransport' (children transport), near the train station Friedrichstrasse in Berlin, Sunday, June 17, 2018. Paul Alexander, one of the children whose life was saved with the transports from Berlin to London, attends a memorial bike ride from Berlin to London to mark the Kindertransport's 80th anniversary. (AP Photo/Miriam Karout)

BERLIN (AP) — Almost 80 years after the first “Kindertransport” evacuations of Jewish children to safety in Britain, 42 people set off Sunday on a memorial bike ride that will retrace their journey from Berlin to London.

The cyclists set off from Berlin’s Friedrichstrasse station, where a statue commemorates the 10,000 mostly Jewish children who made it to Britain from Nazi Germany and elsewhere in Europe starting in late 1938.

Organized by the British-based World Jewish Relief group, the ride retraces the route of the trains. It’s expected to take the riders six days to get to London’s Liverpool Street station.

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Among the saved children was Paul Alexander. The only participant in the ride who was on a Kindertransport — “children’s transport” — he was joined by his 34-year-old son, Nadav, and 14-year-old grandson, Daniel.

“This ride is for me a victory ride. It’s one of celebrating a good life,” he said. “I’m riding also in honor of my mother and father who sent me away and had the courage and foresight to save me to send me away from the Holocaust.”

“It’s a ride I do every 80 years,” joked Alexander, whose mother reluctantly sent him — aged only 1 — to safety abroad. He was able to reunite with his family in England, where they settled. He later moved to Israel.

Many of the rescued children never saw their parents again.

As Sunday’s ride started, the cyclists gathered for a safety briefing and the Jewish prayer for travelers. The British ambassador and German government representatives gathered to see them off.

“Our past is a reminder to fight against anti-Semitism, racism and other forms of discrimination,” said German Foreign Ministry representative Karina Haeuslmeier. “We owe this to the children who survived and those who didn’t.”