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A Lecture with Renate Ahrens- “Kindertransport and the Loss of One’s Mother Tongue”

When Nov 03, 2014
from 11:15 AM to 12:15 PM
Where 118 Willard Building
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“Kindertransport and the Loss of One’s Mother Tongue”

During the nine months prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, the United Kingdom took in some 10,000 Jewish refugee children from Germany, Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Many of them would be the only ones in their families to survive the Holocaust. Renowned German writer Renate Ahrens, whose novels and drama probe the impact on families and especially on the mother-daughter bond of the great catastrophes of the 20th century, is presently working on a novel about three generations of Jewish women in Dublin:

Irma, the grandmother, was twelve years old when she left Germany and came to England with the Kindertransport in 1939. She has never spoken about her experiences to anyone. Towards the end of her life this changes when her granddaughter Rebecca begins to ask her questions about the past, questions Irma’s daughter Leah never dared to ask.


Renate Ahrens was born in Herford, Germany, in 1955. She studied English and French at the universities of Marburg, Lille and Hamburg. She worked as a teacher for a few years, before she and her husband moved to Dublin in 1986. Since then she has been a freelance writer. She writes novels, stage plays and German-English children's books. Her 1998 play When The Wall Came Down – staged in German from 2003 under the title Mütter-Los – explores the plight of dissidents in the former East Germany whose children were taken from them and given up for adoption. The Irish Times described it in 1998 as "an accomplished and taut drama written in oblique dialogue, whose participants appear not to want to hear what the others are saying. It is about breaking down borders at several levels – political, economical, intellectual and familial."

In 1996-97 Renate Ahrens lived in Cape Town and in 2002-03 in Rome, and is now based in Dublin and Hamburg. She is a member of the P.E.N. Centre of German-Speaking Writers Abroad.

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