A NEW book which sheds light on the experiences of children of Kindertransport and their families has been published.

University of Essex playwright Professor Jonathan Lichtenstein wrote a moving account of a journey he took with his elderly father, Hans, as they travelled back to Berlin from which his father had fled in 1939.

The book, called the Berlin Shadow, reveals how Hans’ experience deeply affected Mr Lichtenstein’s own childhood and behaviour and shows how the journey helped both process the trauma which was ever-present in their lives.

Hans left Nazi Germany when he was 12 arriving in Harwich as part of Kindertransport.

Hans’ mother survived the war in Berlin while his half-sister was protected in Holland where she worked for the Resistance.

Unfortunately, his remaining family did not survive the Holocaust.

With his father in his 80s, Prof Lichtenstein sought to understand Hans’ journey on Kindertransport so they headed off to retrace that journey.

Mr Lichtenstein, who works in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, said: “I had this strange relationship with my father’s past, which hugely influenced him and, therefore, influenced me.

“I knew that it had gripped him and held him and formed him. But he could not articulate this.

“It was a profound experience. What I found so extraordinary about guilt, mourning and grief, is that if you have the capacity to somewhat engage with those things, then you begin to release from them.

“My father had suffered from terrible nightmares all his life but after the journey he was able to sleep.”

In Berlin, the pair visited Hans’ childhood home, the family shop which was attacked on Kristallnacht and the place where his father had committed suicide.

Mr Lichtenstein said the journey taught him about post-traumatic stress and second-generation experiences.

He added: “As I was writing the book I found I was displaying classic behaviours of someone who had grown up with a father who had PTSD.

“It contextualised certain things I did in my life, suddenly they made sense.”