Suitcase: Kindertransport 75th Anniversary

Suitcase is a site-specific promenade theatre event marking the 75th anniversary of the first arrival of the Kindertransport in Britain, touring 10 train stations across the country, beginning in Glasgow 12th November 2013 and ending at Liverpool Street Station, London 2nd December. Performed 3 times on a single day at each station, the hour-long performance takes small groups of audience on a journey around the station, watching scenes telling stories of the people who were there, including refugee children, Kindertransport organisers, railway worker fundraisers and waiting foster parents. SUITCASE - ARRIVING AT A STATION NEAR YOU!

We did it!

On 14th Oct 2013 we successfully raised £5,335 of £5,000 target with 120 supporters in 28 days


You can contact us at or 07551 050875


SUITCASE is a site-specific performance which will arrive at ten stations across Britain in November and December 2013 to mark the 75th anniversary of the first arrival of the Kindertransport. In November 1938, the British Government agreed to allow up to 10,000 unaccompanied children who were at risk from the Nazis to come to the UK temporarily. In the following nine months leading up to the outbreak of World War Two over 9500 children aged between 5 and 17 were brought to Britain from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, ensuring their survival. Most of these children never saw their families again.

  Ben Abeles 1939                Lore Freudenthal 1939             Ursula Rosenfeld 1939

     Ben Abeles 1939                     Lore Freudenthal 1939                  Ursula Simon 1939

Devised from specially-commissioned interviews and research, SUITCASE takes small audience groups on a journey through each working station where they stumble across scenes played out by bewildered refugee children, waiting foster parents, Kindertransport organisers and bemused bystanders, as commuters hurrying to catch their trains are hijacked by history. Performed three times on a single day at each station, SUITCASE is a unique synthesis of memory and music, place and performance. It was originally created for the 70th anniversary and performed on one day only at Liverpool Street Station, London, on 2nd December 2008.

SUITCASE was created by the daughters of Jo Merkin (nee Hacker) who arrived from Vienna aged 10 with her two younger sisters, Paula and Melanie, in December 1938. They left behind their baby brother Max who was too young to come on the Kindertransport and their parents, Koloman and Franziska. They all died in the Holocaust, Max and Franziska at Auschwitz in October 1944 and Koloman at Kaufering, Dachau, in January 1945.

 Max Hacker 1938         3 sisters 1941          Wedding photo 1927

    Max Hacker 1938                Melanie, Jo and Paula Hacker      Franziska and Koloman            Vienna 1938                               Sunderland 1941                Hacker Deutschkreutz 1927

For our 2013 tour the piece is being developed to reflect the stories of children who travelled to the different stations, either passing through or as destinations where they found homes in hostels, children’s homes or with foster families, from Glasgow to Southampton, Harwich to Hull.

Each performance lasts approximately one hour and features eleven performers and musicians. Depending on station capacity, there will be a booked audience of between 70 – 105 per performance.

Working in partnership with the Holocaust Educational Trust we will deliver workshops to secondary schools local to each station and small groups of students will also attend some performances. At each location there will also be a discussion forum featuring both children who arrived on the Kindertransport in 1938/39 and refugees who arrived as children more recently. SUITCASE is not just about a moment in history – the sad reality is that every year 1500 unaccompanied children arrive in the UK seeking sanctuary.

SUITCASE is produced in collaboration with Hope Street who, over the last 25 years, have specialised in performances in non-theatre spaces and introducing theatre to an unsuspecting audience. We are also working in partnership with the Refugee Council, Holocaust Educational Trust and the Association of Jewish Refugees.


SUITCASE has received a substantial grant from the Arts Council and, with financial support from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany amongst others, we have secured 80% of our funding. To ensure that we can take the production to ten stations, we are hoping to raise £5000 toward our production costs through crowdfunding. This sum would cover the costs of writing and producing our education resource pack and the design and print costs for our publicity materials. Tickets for SUITCASE are free as we believe that the cost of tickets shouldn’t be a barrier to being able to attend, but it means that we won’t derive any income from our performances. Whatever the size of your donation, we are offering a reward –and include acknowledgement on our website, priority booking for the very limited audience spaces to invitations to a special performance of SUITCASE with added extras available only to crowdfunders. If you donate £100 or above you will be entitled to an advert and website link on our webpages. A full list of rewards and qualifying donations are listed on the right. 

TOUR SCHEDULENB:This is a provisional schedule and subject to change

There will be 3 performances at each station – 10.30, 13.00 and 19.30 EXCEPT at Sheffield where the 13.00 performance is replaced by one at 15.00 and Harwich International where the last performance will be at 18.00.

12th November           Glasgow Central14th November           Hull Paragon Interchange16th November           Sheffield19th November           Leeds21st November           Manchester Piccadilly22nd November         Liverpool Lime Street25th November          Bristol Temple Meads27th November          Southampton29th November          Harwich International2nd December           Liverpool Street, London

There will be an additional, gala performance at Liverpool Street Station, London on 1st December at 16.00 which will only be available to crowdfunders. Expect many added extras – and the journey of a lifetime.

Tickets for all performances are free but extremely limited and must be booked in advance. Booking will open in 7th October but check out the rewards to see how you can get priority booking.Some rewards offer limited priority booking so donate early to avoid disappointment!


Ros Merkin, Devisor and Director                                    Devisor and Director – Ros Merkin

Ros has over 20 years experience as a theatre academic and practitioner. She has devised numerous site specific performances including work at World Museum, the Cunard Building and the Williamson Tunnels in Liverpool. She has worked extensively on dramatising and devising from non-theatre texts, particularly from oral history and memoirs, ranging from writings of those involved in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and the Spanish Civil War to adaptations of Ignazio Silone’s “Fontamara” and Joanne Harris’ “Chocolat”.

Musical Director – Max Reinhardt                                                 Max Reinhardt, Musical Director

Max is Musical Director/Composer for Oily Cart (1981 – present). Recent freelance work includes “Ketubah: The Wedding Party Installation” for Oxford Contemporary Music, the Kristupo Festival in Vilnius, “Illuminating Chagall”, “I Dream of Accra With the Long Blonde ‘Fro” at the V&A Museum and “The Fifth Quarter Suite” for Spitalfields Music Festival. He has created the soundtracks for the film “Mazel” and live soundtracks for “Nanook of the North” and “Nosferatu”. Max is a regular presenter for BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction.

 Executive Producer, Jane Merkin                                                              Executive Producer – Jane MerkinJane has been making social documentaries for television over the past 20 years, covering subjects including refugees, oral cancer, postnatal depression and homelessness. She has been the Executive Producer on programmes about Scottish fishermen (“Trawlermen” BBC1), economic migrants (“Panorama Special: Breaking into Britain” BBC1), London homeless (“On the Streets” BBC4) and young people with mental health issues (“Don’t Call Me Crazy” BBC3). Jane was the producer of “Suitcase” in 2008.

Creative Producers – Hope Street Limited     Hope St LogoCelebrating 25 years of producing ground-breaking original cross-artform performance in unusual places and spaces, Hope Street is a multi-award winning organisation based in Liverpool. Recent productions include “Alice Through the Winter Gardens”, a promenade performance at the newly-renovated Winter Gardens in Blackpool, “Deadline”, a live-action game around Liverpool as part of the Liverpool Biennial, and “Upside Down, Wrong Way Round”, an immersive theatre performance that marked the 30th anniversary of Unity Theatre, Liverpool. They are currently producing “On the Verge” which showcases new work by emerging talent in non-theatre spaces.

Tom Wilson Assistant Director                                                                    Assistant Director - Tom Wilson 

Tom is a recent drama graduate from Liverpool John Moores University, currently working as a freelance director, actor and musician. He has appeared in "Pool of Blood" at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and "Waiting for Brando" at the Unitty Theatre Liverpool. Tom is currently also the co-writer and director, and musical director for "Jesus is a Rochdale Girl".


Suitcase 2008 Liverpool Street Station     

SUITCASE was performed at Liverpool Street Station on 2nd December 2008 by drama undergraduates from Liverpool John Moore’s University and was funded by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany and David Baddiel, as well as donations from, amongst others, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Marks and Spencer and ASLEF, and a number of private individuals. The limited audience places meant that it was hugely oversubscribed, and those who managed to secure a ticket had an experience that will stay with them::

Suitcase 2008 Liverpool Street Station

 It was an experience we will never forget and was that much more remarkable for the originality in the production. It is a real shame that there were only three performances and my whole family and I feel privileged to have been part of this limited audience. It really deserves to be seen by many more people. Harry Bibring, Kind from Vienna

Suitcase 2008 Liverpool St Station

I have very vivid memories of December 2nd which include memories of the emotions it stirred. Few theatrical presentations have moved me to such an extent or drawn me in. I feel privileged and fortunate for having seen it. Ruth Jones

Thank you. You truly honoured those children, their parents and all who worked so hard to save and protect them. Suitcase was a tremendously emotional experience. I cried a lot and Rod was really moved, feeling a lot of resonance with the immigrant experience. Kath Wilgress

Suitcase 2008 Liverpool Street Station

This was a project from the heart… New audiences have been able to discover the story behind the Kindertransport. It has completely changed how I feel about Liverpool Street Station, too. Every time I go through it now I look for the children with their suitcases…It really feels as if the ghosts and emotions of the Kinder actually inhabit the station now, but in a comforting rather than an unsettling way. Julie Carr

I was very moved by it, knowing almost nothing about the topic in advance, and then being surprised to learn that several people in my group had been children brought to London in 1938 and 1939. It was a wonderful performance (although I was in tears after as I tried to describe it to my husband)…Thanks again for one of my favourite London theatre experiences this autumn/winter. Professor Joanne Tomkins, University of Brisbane

Suitcase 2008 Liverpool Street Station

“Suitcase” helps to record for posterity the reality of what the Kindertransportee had to face, and reminds us to be sensitive to the needs of displaced and persecuted people more generally. “Suitcase” therefore leaves a powerful legacy that can be used in years to come to educate people about the dangers of racism and discrimination. Judith Hassan, Special Advisor, Therapeutic Services for Survivors of War Trauma

It was a marvellous event – direct, touching, entertaining, dramatic and effective. I feel really good to have been even distantly associated with such a brilliant project. Chris Proctor, ASLEF

Read full story

Got an idea like this?

Start your Crowdfunder