Paddington Bear first appeared in the children’s book “A Bear Called Paddington” 65 years ago on October 13, 1958. But did you know that the little bear with a big heart was inspired by Jewish children who escaped the Holocaust on the Kindertransport?

The Kindertransport was a rescue mission that took place between 1938 and 1939, during which 10,000 Jewish children were sent by train to safety from Germany to England, traveling alone and without their parents.

Paddington’s creator, Michael Bond, was motivated by his memories of children arriving at London’s Reading station during WWII. These young refugees each carried a small suitcase and wore labels around their necks for identification. It’s no coincidence that in the book, the little bear is found sitting on his suitcase at Paddington Station in London with a note around his neck that reads, “Please take care of this bear. Thank you.”

Photo: Felicity McCabe

Contributor: Jill G. Mundinger