An oak tree was planted at Lodge Farm in Thaxted to commemorate the many Jewish refugees who trained there after fleeing the Nazi regime.

The farm used to be the site of the Bachad Farm Institute, which was led by the late Arieh Handler (1915-2011).

In the late 1930s, Arieh played a significant role in negotiating visas for hundreds, if not thousands of young Jews fleeing Germany - culminating in the rescue operations known as the Kindertransport.

Following Kristallnacht - an attack on Jewish homes, businesses and Synagogues in November 1938 - Arieh's work in Germany came to an abrupt halt. He established an office in London and set about creating centres to train young Jewish people in agriculture, in preparation for emigration to Palestine.

Eventually the group purchased Lodge Farm, where they were based from 1944 to 1962. More than a thousand young Jews trained at the farm over the years, with many of the initial cohort fleeing Nazism.

Lodge Farm was the only Jewish-owned farm where the refugees could live according to Orthodox traditions, in a socialist, 'kibbutz'-like environment - with income going into a communal kitty to meet everyone's essential needs. By the 1950s Jewish refugees were coming to the farm from all over the world.

Around 90 people attended the event, which was overseen by the Association of Jewish Refugees, including representatives of the parish council, Thaxted Society and local church leaders.

The tree was sponsored by Arieh Handler's son Danny, who attended. Also present was 90-year-old Shlomo Manns, a former Bachad member who emigrated to the farm from Australia.

Mr Manns was overjoyed to find a photo of himself in a mini exhibition set up at the farm, which was curated by event organiser Verity Steele - who is doing a PhD on Bachad - and Tom Magness, event host and farmer at Lodge Farm. A display board depicting the history of the farm was also unveiled by Michael Culkin.

Debra Barnes, of the Association of Jewish Refugees, said the event was "one of the most special tree-planting events" she had attended.

Verity Steele said: "All this could naturally not have taken place without the wholehearted support and interest of the Magness family, farmers and current owners of Lodge Farm, Thaxted."