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  • Two Roads

The School That Escaped the Nazis

Deborah Cadbury

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Second World War

A touching and compelling new telling of the Kindertransport story, led by the extraordinary achievements of pioneering educator Anna Essinger

'All the violence I had exprierienced before felt like a bad dream. It was a paradise. I think most of the children felt it was a paradise.'

In 1933, the same year Hitler came to power, Anna Essinger voluntarily exiled her small, progressive school from Germany. Anna - a pioneering German-Jewish schoolteacher - had read Mein Kampf and knew the terrible danger that Hitler's hate-fuelled ideologies posed to her pupils. And so she hatched a courageous and daring plan: to smuggle her school to the safety of England.

The school she established in Kent, Bunce Court, flourished despite the many challenges it faced, but the news from her home country continued to darken and Anna watched as Europe slid towards war, with devastating consequences for the Jewish children left behind in Germany and Nazi-occupied territories. Anna was compelled to head a rescue unit at a requisitioned Butlins camp, receiving the children from the horrific events that followed Kristallnacht. Anna would come to accept waves of increasingly traumatised children at Bunce Court -- including those who had escaped the concentration camps and ghettos -- offering them a safe haven and the love and security they needed to begin to rebuild their lives.

Featuring the moving first-hand testimony from surviving pupils, and drawn from letters, diaries and present-day interviews, The School That Escaped the Nazis is a dramatic human tale that offers a unique child's-eye perspective on Kindertransport and the Holocaust. It is also the story of one woman's refusal to allow her beliefs in a better world to be overtaken by hatred and violence.

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