Cedars-Sinai Blog

The Kindertransport Saved This Volunteer from Nazi Germany

Cedars-Sinai Volunteer Ruth Moll, with the recorder she brought with her when she fled Nazi Germany. Ruth says of the recorder, "I can't tell you why I decided to take it at the time, but it meant something to me."

If you met Ruth Moll during one of her twice-weekly volunteer shifts at Cedars-Sinai, you wouldn’t be aware of her harrowing past, but Ruth’s story is one that should be told and remembered.

Ruth was 10 years old when she and her sisters boarded a train out of Nazi Germany in 1939. With one small suitcase each, they said goodbye to their parents and headed to Great Britain.

Ruth was one of about 10,000 children saved by the Kindertransport (German for children’s transport), a rescue effort organized by the British to shepherd predominantly Jewish children to safety and away from the Holocaust from 1938 to 1940.

"We all couldn't understand what was going on. It was rush, rush, rush."

Ruth had been only vaguely aware of the growing tumult and danger in her hometown of Stuttgart. But in November 1938, Kristallnacht, known as the "Night of Broken Glass," set Ruth's flight from her home into motion. Over the 2 days of rioting and violence, Nazis burned synagogues, looted Jewish businesses, vandalized Jewish cemeteries, and randomly beat and killed Jews across Germany.

Ruth remembers being prevented from attending school, losing her non-Jewish friends, and seeing "Jews Forbidden" signs appear across the city.

It wasn't long after that Ruth’s parents arranged for their 3 daughters to leave the country. Even today, Ruth doesn't know how her parents managed the children's passage to England.

What she does remember is the frenzied exodus from Germany. "We all couldn't understand what was going on," Ruth said. "It was rush, rush, rush."

"I'm honoring the memory of everybody who passed away."

Ruth packed her small bag, mostly with clothes for her new school. She also tucked in her favorite musical instrument, a wooden recorder. She loved to play children's songs on the recorder. She still has it, in excellent condition in its original case.

"I can't tell you why I decided to take it at the time, but it meant something to me," she said.

Ruth Moll - Volunteer Kindertransport Documentation

Once packed, it was time to go. For many children, those goodbyes to their parents would be the last. Months after the Ruth and her sisters arrived in England and just weeks before the war started, their parents made it to England. Ruth still doesn't know how they did it.

It wasn't until much later that the family was reunited. During the war, Ruth's family remained separated, but they were lucky enough to generally know where the others were and they came together as much as possible.

Following the war, Ruth made her way to America and eventually to California, where she met her husband Rudy Moll, a fellow German saved by the Kinderstransport. The two settled into life in Los Angeles.

Since the war, Ruth has been many things—a wife, a mother, and a Cedars-Sinai volunteer for more than 20 years.

"Thousands were saved by England. Thousands of children."

Last Friday, Ruth took a break from her volunteer duties to participate in Cedars-Sinai's 33rd annual Yom Ha'Shoah observance. As she has for many years at the ceremony, she lit candles honoring the 6 million European Jews who were killed by the Nazis.

"I'm honoring the memory of everybody who passed away," said Ruth, whose maiden name is Schmidt. "I get emotional inside about the lighting of the candles. It's important to me to do it."

Ruth is determined to keep the memory of the Kindertransport alive. Her husband and sisters have all passed away and each year, there are fewer and fewer voices to tell the story of the 10,000 rescued children.

"It hurts me that people just don't know about the Kindertransport," she said. "I'm old now and it's sad to see. But thousands were saved by England. Thousands of children."

Cedars-Sinai is dedicated to honoring our Jewish heritage. On Yom Ha'Shoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, we remember those lost in the Holocaust and honor survivors like Ruth.