REVIEW OF ESCAPING HITLER ON MOMZINGA.COM

Quite by chance yesterday I came across this online review of Escaping Hitler on the U.S. site Momzinga (the American version of Mumsnet).  I was so excited by Katie John’s unique spin on the story that I requested her permission to reproduce it on this blog. Some of the finer details are not exactly correct, but her opinion is loud and clear and for that I am grateful. Always good that one year on, American readers are still discovering Joe’s story.

ESCAPING HITLER; Enthralling, Amazing Story of The Boy Who Walked Out of Germany

by kjohnsinxs@yahoo.com  (Momzinga.com)

ESCAPING HITLER—Should be required reading for every American child!


Besides having a great title, Escaping Hitler, written by Phyllida Scrivens, is an enthralling book. It starts out kind of dull with telling Gunter’s parents’ history. But then suddenly it becomes enthralling, reading page after page having to find out what happens to Gunter, a Jewish teen who walks out of Germany to a new life.

You will be amazed at how innocent people were back in the late 1930’s and 1940’s and how people are not like this today. So many people helped Gunter get out of Germany when Hitler’s men were rounding up Jews to put them in prison, beat them up, starve them and ultimately kill them. He leaves his parents behind at their urging and starts a new life at 14—alone!

Paralyzed with fear, I wondered how a child could walk, swim and take a train ride to a new life. I kept reading as fast as possible to find out what happens to Gunter Stern. It was so amazing to read how so many people openly welcome this complete stranger into their homes, helping him get out of Germany across the countryside. After he wades across a river, a German guard yells at him to get out of the water, and ends up helping this thin teenager. He literally allows the teen to stay at his home for a week and speeds along the process of getting him out of Germany by a train, where Jewish-German kids are placed with relatives or with total strangers, getting them away from the Nazi’s.

It was so unreal reading how trusting people were back then. Gunter ends up living in England as his parents are eventually taken away to a prison camp in Poland and killed. Gunter is an innocent fourteen year old who makes a new life for himself.

Scrivens’ numerous research has gone into this remarkable book telling exactly what the Nazi’s did to the Jews. At the beginning they took any male over 16 out of their homes and put them in makeshift jails. Gunter’s father thought this would never happen to him, because he was a WWI hero, but he was horrifically wrong. It is incredibly horrible learning exactly how the Germans go about taking control of their people. As I read I was horrified at what was happening, but I had to find out what happened. History repeats itself, so that is a scary thought, which propelled me forward.

It is remarkable how so many people helped Gunter and how respectful they were of him and how respectful he was of them. He lived in stranger’s homes, and he worked in fields and grew stronger eating a diet of healthy food. Escaping Hitler is a beautiful and unreal story of the ultimate horrible reality. Escaping Hitler is a story you will not soon forget, it is that brilliantly told.   Momzinga.com.1-003 Gunter ID card front

 

 

 

ESCAPING HITLER FOR CHRISTMAS!

Christmas Present Alert!

Escaping Hitler: A Jewish Boy's Quest for Freedom and his Future

Holiday-Christmas-Gifts-Red.jpg

I don’t think I can ignore CHRISTMAS any longer!!!  If you are considering gifts for the relative or friend who has everything, or someone who loves to read, especially if they are or have been Norwich residents, then Joe Stirling’s biography should be well received….  you can order a hardback copy, signed by both author and subject direct from me by contacting me at phyllida.scrivens@icloud.com.  I can take credit and debit payments on the telephone and I will package the book up safely, mailing it out by first class post.  The price is £19.50 plus £4 postage and packing.  I look forward to hearing from you! PLEASE SHARE!!joe-stirling-2

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ESCAPING HITLER FOR CHRISTMAS!

Holiday-Christmas-Gifts-Red.jpg

 

I don’t think I can ignore CHRISTMAS any longer!!!  If you are considering gifts for the relative or friend who has everything, or someone who loves to read, especially if they are or have been Norwich residents, then Joe Stirling’s biography should be well received….  you can order a hardback copy, signed by both author and subject direct from me by contacting me at phyllida.scrivens@icloud.com.  I can take credit and debit payments on the telephone and I will package the book up safely, mailing it out by first class post.  The price is £19.50 plus £4 postage and packing.  I look forward to hearing from you! PLEASE SHARE!!joe-stirling-2

Joe’s wedding day featured in Wedding Exhibition in Attleborough

I was delighted and honoured when Attleborough Heritage Group asked me to provide photographs and text for its exhibition on 28th October showcasing nuptial memorabilia and gowns from weddings held in St Mary’s Church Attleborough during the past seven decades.  These were displayed in St Mary’s while  the church hall hosted a Wedding Fair.  During the evening there was an illustrated talk from the archive and records of AHG with a buffet supper.  Many thanks to them for including Joe and Jean’s story.  Here is the poster they produced along with the appropriate extract from Escaping Hitler.

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Happy 93rd Birthday Joe Stirling!

Today is Joe’s 93rd birthday.  I called into his home to take him some chocolates (he is a self-confessed chocoholic) and found him in good form, looking forward to a family dinner tonight at an undisclosed location.  Wishing to record the moment I tried some selfies.  Why is it that I can never make them work like the youngsters do?!  But undeterred I carried on and I think these might make you smile!

Incredible list of speaking engagements for Escaping Hitler 2016 & 2017

 

LT-Escaping Hitler Feb 17 (10)

 

Mindful that in early November Joe and I will be undertaking our final speaking engagement of 2017, to the good ladies of the Hopton-on-Sea Women’s Institute, I thought I would take a look through our visits since Escaping Hitler was published in January 2016.  I was amazed at the number of groups I/we have spoken to, resulting in nearly 300 signed books sold following the talks.  If you then add in sales directly from book exhibitions and individual readers approaching me online or via the telephone, total direct sales amount to 891 and counting!  Unbelievable.  I thought you might be interested in seeing the list of talks, the vast majority of which were in Norwich and surrounding area. (Photo taken at Norfolk Record Office on 8th February 2017) Thanks to all those who have invited us.  We  already have 11 dates in the diary for 2018!

ESCAPING HITLER 64 Speaking Engagements in Norfolk and beyond during 2016 and 2017

 

Norwich Ladies Luncheon Club
Old Catton Women’s Institute
Official Launch at Jarrolds Department Store, Norwich
Norwich Synagogue
Belton Women’s Institute
Norwich North Liberal Democrats
Norwich Chamber Music Club
Wymondham Heritage Society
The Norfolk Club
Norwich Community History Group
Out and about Club
Mercedes Benz Owners Club evening
Walsingham Historical Society
East Anglia Women Networking Group
Brooke Women’s Institute
Lions International Regional Conference, Colchester
Sunday Assembly, Norwich
Association of Jewish Refugees
Mid Norfolk Family History Society
Rotary Club of Norwich St Edmund
Attleborough Public Library
Koblenz Federal Archive, Rhineland
The village of Nickenich, Rhineland
Great Hospital Group
Townswomen Guild Central Norwich Group
Mulbarton Words Week
Townwomen’s Guild Eaton Group
East Anglia Festival of Culture, Lowestoft
Wymondham British Legion
Recycled Teenagers Group
Norwich Business Women’s Network
Norwich Inter-faith Group
Liberal Democrat Regional Conference
Time Travellers Meeting, Heritage Centre, Forum
Sprowston History Group
Norwich Lunchtime Women’s Institute
Bure School, Aylsham
Norwich Ladies Luncheon Club
UEA Retirement Group
Paston College, North Walsham
Norwich Labour Party History Group
The Norwich School
Norfolk Record Office
Aylsham Library
Vale Probus Club Ladies’ Lunch
Koblenz Norwich Friendship Society AGM
Unison Trade Union Retired Members Norfolk Branch
Wymondham Sixth Form College
Salvation Army Ladies’ Fellowship
Mid Norfolk Family History Society
Civil Service Retirement Fellowship
Easton Women’s Institute
Maddermarket Theatre for Performance of Kindertransport
Beccles Probus Club
Lakenham Townswomen’s Guild
Catton Townswomen’s Guild
Mileham W.I. Near King’s Lynn
Holt Women’s Institute
Thetford Society
Get Together Group Norwich Theatre Royal
Brooklands Care Home, Taverham
The Probus Club of Wymondham and District

Broadland Housing Association, Dereham

Cringleford W.I.

Joe meets son of former schoolfriend Heinz

It was a red letter day yesterday in the life of Joe Stirling when we met for lunch with Dr Hubert Becker from Friesland on the North Sea coast of Germany.  His good friend Neil Jordon was hosting Hubert for a few days in Norfolk, and they took the opportunity to arrange a first time meeting with Joe.

Hubert was born in Nickenich, Joe’s home village in the Rhineland, in 1963 and when I was writing Escaping Hitler, Hubert was in touch with me, sending photographs of his relatives in the village and retelling anecdotes from his mother who still lives there.  Some of these now appear in the book.  Hubert’s father was Heinz Becker, a boy in Joe’s class at school (Joe was then Günter Stern) and his Uncle Peter was the best friend of Günter’s father Alfred.  Are you following this?!  Keep up!  Peter appears on a photo that I show at every public talk – he is the second from the left on the plough. Peter died in 1973, having been the Mayor of Nickenich, two days before his Golden Wedding celebration.

Young Heinz appears in the Nickenich village school photo from 1932 – he is the one in centre at the front with the pudding basin fringe! (Günter is seated, front, far left in white socks)  In his adult life, Heinz felt guilty about the fate of the Sterns during the Holocaust and how his schoolfriend had to flee to England to escape Nazi atrocities. As his life was coming to an end in 2000 he made his son Hubert promise to seek out Joe Stirling and ask his forgiveness for how the village failed to act during the darkest hours of Kristallnacht.

And yesterday in Loch Fyne in Norwich, Hubert was able to fulfil that promise.

 

IMG_3982IMG_3985Opa-Peter-01Heinz Becker Grundschule