Photo portrait session of Dr. Renata Laxova who was on the last train out of Prague, Czechoslovakia on the Kindertransport in 1939 |
Dr. Renata Laxova’s Story
Renata Polgar Laxova was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia in 1931. At the age of 8, her parents sent her to England on the “Kindertransport” in 1939. The Kindertransport from Prague to London in 1939 transported 669 Jewish children to safety as Nazi occupiers were rounding up Jewish citizens to be sent to concentration and labor camps.
British Humanitarian Sir Nicholas Winton, a 29 year old stockbroker of Jewish origins, decided help Jewish children escape Czechoslovakia. The British House of Commons had recently approved a measure after Kristallnacht in November 1938 to allow Jewish refugee children under 17 years old into the United Kingdom provided they had a place to stay and could pay 50 pounds for their eventually return.
Renata’s picture which had been sent to British parliamentarian George Lansbury after he had given a speech in Czechoslovakia which had been heard by Renata’s parent. He warned Jews that they were in danger and to do whatever they could to leave the country. Renata's parents sent the picture and a letter addressed to The Parliament, London, England. The picture was published in a Quaker newspaper and the Daniels’ family decided to take Renata in.
Renata left Prague on 31 July 1939 on the last of eight “Kindertransport” trains that travelled through Germany to Holland and then by ship to England where they were met by their host parents at Liverpool Station. The ninth Kindertransport train, a month later and the largest one with 250 children on board, was loaded and ready to pull out of the Prague train station on September 1st 1939. It was the day the Nazis invaded Poland and all borders were closed by the occupying Germans. All 250 children were never heard from again and it is believed that they were killed by the SS.
After seven years in London, she was reunited with her parents and moved back to Brno, Czechoslovakia in 1946. There she relearned the Czech language, attended university and then started a career as a pediatric physician and geneticist. She married Tibor Laxova and they had two daughters before the Soviet Army invaded Czechoslovakia following the Prague Spring in 1968. Renata and her daughter on the advice of a friend took a bus convoy to Vienna. She joined her husband and daughter who were in England for work.
They eventually all emigrated to the United States settling in Madison, Wisconsin where Renata could do her pediatric genetics work and teaching and Tibor carry out his profession as a veterinarian.
Renata Laxova is an American pediatric geneticist and is Emeritus Professor of Genetics at the Departments of Pediatrics and Medical Genetics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She discovered the New-Laxova syndrome which is a rare congenital abnormality.
She lives with her terrier, Breenie - named after her home town in the former Czechoslovakia.
04 January 2021 - I just learned that Renate died on 30 November 2020 after a brief illness in Arizona where one of her daughters lived. I am very sadden by her passing only a year after I spent the afternoon at her house, walking her dog and over lunch at a favorite neighborhood restaurant. That day she was so full of energy, life and spirit. A beautiful and wonderful person.
Photo of Renata Laxova and Breenie featured in the "Lonka Project" exhibit as part of the United Nations 2020 Holocaust Remembrance