The photo of three Jewish girls fleeing from Nazi Germany it became an iconic image appearing in museums, exhibitions and publications.

It was taken at the London Liverpool Street Stationbut for more than 80 years the identities of the girls were a mystery.

Until now.

Inge doesn’t remember taking the photo and for decades she didn’t even know it existed.

When she was a child, at the age of five, she ran away from her home in Breslau, Wroclaw in Poland, with her 10-year-old sister Ruth.

His mother and younger sister were left behind and were murdered at Auschwitz.

It wasn’t until she became a pensioner that Inge realized that she and Ruth, who died in 2015, had been forever immortalized as icons of the Holocaust and of the “Kindertransport,” that is, the mass evacuation of Jewish children from the Nazi Germany in 1939.

He found the image in Never Againa book by historian Martin Gilbert.

“It was a big surprise,” said Inge, whose maiden name was Adamecz.

It just put in the book ‘Three Little Girls’, so I wrote to him and told him we were alive. People say that I look like Shirley Temple. Why am I smiling?”

“Ruth was very upset.”

I don’t know who that third girl with the doll is. I never recognized her“, Add.

The girl with the doll was actually 10-year-old Hanna Cohn, who arrived on the same train as the girls with her twin brother Hans, later named Gerald.

Both were from Halle, Germany.

Hans’s leg can be made out on the original glass plate in the image.

Like Inge and Ruth, Hanna didn’t remember the photo she took, though she did remember the trip and the doll.

He died in 2018 but spoke of his experiences in an interview with the University of London.

I remember going through Holland and I remember nice ladies giving us sticky buns and lemonade“, said.

A trip on a train

“We arrived at Liverpool Street station on a train from Harwich. I remember the seats were upholstered, not wooden seats and I was very worried that we were in first class by mistake. I am very conformist.”

“Also I was worried that our destination was Liverpool Street because I thought we were going to London and that Liverpool was somewhere else“.

“However, we got to this great big hall. I was holding a doll I named Evelyn.”

hanna he first became aware of the photograph when his brother saw it in an exhibition at the Camden Library, in Londonto commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Kindertransport.

His twin daughters Debbie and Helen Singer said he was always very curious about the other two girls.

“When we saw the picture where she was sitting with her braid and her doll, it said, ‘Who are the other two girls,'” Debbie said.

Then, more than 80 years after the photo was taken, her daughters found out the truth after listening to a BBC podcast.

The story, The Girls: A Holocaust Safe House, told the long-forgotten tale of a northeastern shelter where Inge, married name Hamilton, and Ruth had spent part of the war.

“It was Holocaust Remembrance Day and a friend of mine sent me a link to the news on the BBC website,” Helen said, adding: “I thought: ‘Why is he sending me this link?’ but after I saw the photo of my mother and the names of the other two girls, Ruth and Inge“.

‘We have found the girls’

“We were so excited. I texted Debbie and said, ‘We found the girls.'”

Then, in April, Inge finally met Hanna’s daughters at the Imperial War Museum in London, where the photograph has been on display for more than 20 years.

They were able to talk more about their families and what happened after the photo was taken.

“Inge is a special person in our lives,” Debbie said.

“I think Mom would be very proud of us.”

“She was always talking about those two girls and the fact that we found them would be very important to her.”

But what about the photographer?

We know from records held by the Getty Images Hulton Archives that his name was Stephenson and he worked for the Topical Press Agency, which employed more than 1,000 photographers who provided images for a huge newspaper industry.

The diary where the photographer’s works were published is from 5 July 1939 and is clearly marked “Three Little Girls Waiting at Liverpool Street Station”, with the photographer’s name Stephenson in the margin.

We can’t be sure, but it’s possible that he was a Scotsman named John F. Stevenson (both spellings were used on records) who became famous for co-writing the song Dear Old Glasgow Toon.

In the 1930s, he gave The Topical Press Agency an address in Glasgow.

With the help of the Scottish Public Records Office, through the addresses on the birth and death certificates, we traced his family.

His grandson, journalist Gordon Stevenson, was fascinated by the story of his grandfather’s career as a freelance press photographer in the late 1930s.

We knew that he had taken photographs all his life and we have many of his photos.Gordon said.

“We knew it was a big part of his life.”

“But that was always in his later years, so this revelation of a rather eclectic career in the late ’30s came as a surprise.”

“We didn’t know anything about his photographic career in the South.”

“So finding out this story we knew nothing about was a real eye opener and we’re still trying to understand how could it be him, but he’s absolutely wonderful.”

The photograph appeared in the national newspaper “The News Chronicle” the day after it was taken.

But then it was used only occasionally until the digital age, when it began to appear more frequently in newspapers and at exhibitions.

And during a visit by Debbie and Helen Singer, the Getty Archives updated their records, so the caption already shows the names of the three girls.

The three girls with their names

“I feel quite touched, because our mother’s name and where she came from are now attached to this photograph along with Inge and Ruth and they’re not just nameless children,” Debbie said.

Helen agreed, adding: “These weren’t just ‘three little girls,’ they were people who had names and lives that mattered.”

They deserved to have their name and we think our mother would have been happy about this.“.

Inge, who is now 89 and lives in south London, has waited more than 80 years to find out the name of the girl who shared her doll with her.

You now know much more about the photography that has followed it.

“This photograph has come a long way,” he said, adding: “It just seems to attract people“.

Additional reporting by Duncan Leatherdale.

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BBC-NEWS-SRC:, IMPORTING DATE: 2023-07-04 08:20:05


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