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Clare Ungerson, author of Four Thousand Lives pieces together how 4,000 Jews came to Sandwich

By Emily Stott

Sandwich was at the centre of a German Jewish rescue mission which saw more than 4,000 men coming to the Cinque Port town in February 1939.

Clare Ungerson, a writer from Upper Strand Street, has relived her own Jewish refugee past and discovered this little-known history.

She has now released a book based on the events called Four Thousand Lives.

The Kitchener Camp, also known as the Richborough Transit Camp, was based on Ramsgate Road and became the home of German Jews rescued by the Anglo-Jewry from concentration camps.

The Anglo-Jewry managed to persuade the British Government to allow them to transport these men to Sandwich while they waited for a permanent settlement, and was funded by the British Jewish community.

When Clare moved to east Kent in 1973, she found the plaque under the barbican commemorating those who resided there and it was this that sparked her interest in the story.

“The wording of the plaque seemed to me very odd indeed. They must have been Jews but why on earth was the word ‘Jews’ omitted from the wording?

“The other thing that puzzled me was that I knew absolutely nothing about the Richborough Transit Camp.

“Growing up as I had done in a German refugee setting, this had no resonance at all.”

Clare, now 70, retired in 2004 and on retirement she took it upon herself to research this period of Sandwich’s history that had become so lost.

Through the book she tries to answer questions about how such a small town would have reacted to an influx of German-Jews, and why it has never been noted in scholarly histories of British refugee policy.

Read this week's East Kent Mercury for a double page spread on the Kitchener Camp.

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