Kindertransport— Rescuing Children on the Brink of War
C&G Partners was tasked with designed the emotional and thought-provoking exhibition “Kindertransport – Rescuing Children on the Brink of War.” The exhibit commemorates the 80th anniversary of Kindertransport, the remarkable humanitarian mission to rescue 10,000 refugee children from Nazi-occupied Europe in the years leading up to the Holocaust. The exhibit is the latest in a trilogy of projects designed at the Center for Jewish History.
“Kindertransport – Rescuing Children on the Brink of War,” illuminates the story of the Kindertransport (German for "Children's Transport"), the organized effort that brought thousands of Jewish children by train from Nazi Germany and occupied lands to Great Britain between 1938 and 1940. The exhibit explores the story of the rescue effort through moving personal stories, artifacts, and engaging media. To tell the bittersweet story of Kindertransport, we developed a number of striking exhibit design elements. The studio brought brand design principles to the project, creating a visual identity system for the exhibition that draws on the motifs of children’s ID tags and directional signs, with subtle color and typographic references to British mass transit. The arrows of the exhibit logo face westward, the direction of England from German territory.
The exhibition makes a strong first impression with a striking red wall covered with thousands of paper name tags. The refugee children wore manilla tags attached by twine around their necks during the Kindertransport, serving to identify them and their belongings. We designed the tags to completely fill one wall of the exhibit, calling to mind leaves blown by the wind. The tags represent the scale, anonymity and eventual bittersweet success of the transport effort, which was able to rescue children but not their families.
The entire floor of the exhibition is a map of Europe, illustrating the route taken by the refugee children. Referencing transit maps from the 1930s, these lines plot out major stops of the Kindertransport. Visitors “begin” their experience in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria or Germany, and continue through the exhibit to ultimately arrive in UK destinations of Harwich or Southampton.
Serving as highly emotional bookends to the gallery space, the “German” wall has an actual-scale image of a mother and father, with their daughter removed from the picture. The opposite or “British” wall shows their daughter looking back towards them across the map.
Display cases throughout the gallery contain artifacts from the Kindertransport period, including letters, clothing, and toys. Four vitrines also contain audio interviews, conducted by our team, of surviving Kinder who tell the personal story of their journey, and the days before and after.
The exhibition has been visited extensively by both local and international audiences and was covered by a variety of press outlets including Graphic Design USA, Dexigner, and NY1 who featured celebrated therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer who is one of the Kinder featured in the exhibition.