Tag: Association of Jewish Refugees

HAPPY 92nd BIRTHDAY JOE!

Joe Stirling, the subject of Escaping Hitler: A Jewish Boy’s Quest for Freedom and His Future, is 92 years old today, 18th October 2016.  I dropped in to see him this morning, taking him a published copy of this blog, going back four years.

In honour of his birthday, I have now posted a video onto Youtube taken in December 2012 by Roger Hewins, Lecturer in Film and Video Production at the University of East Anglia.  It shows Joe in his living room in Norwich, telling me the story of his early life. It runs to over an hour, so grab a coffee, settle down and listen to Joe’s story from his own lips.  These tales and so many more are told in great detail in my biography, as published by Pen and Sword Books in January 2016 and to be published in America by Skyhorse Publishing next January 3rd.  Enjoy and Happy Birthday Joe!  (If you would like your own signed copy see the menu of this blog for instructions of how to buy).

 

 

Escaping Hitler reaches the Reichstag!

I was delighted and proud to hear that last week the Mayor of Nickenich, my good friend Gottfried Busch, had presented a signed copy of Escaping Hitler to the Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Andrea Nahles, when she was on a visit to the region.  It is wunderbar to think that my book might well cross the threshold of the historic Reichstag in Berlin.  I do hope she enjoys reading about little Günter Stern,  his escape on the Kindertransport from Nazi Germany and his long and illustrious future.

Escaping Hitler Presentation at Mulbarton Words Festival June 2016

I am indebted to Terence Burchell from Mulbarton near Norwich for this video of me speaking to a lovely audience at Hanover Gardens, Mulbarton in June this year, as part of the Mulbarton Words Festival.  I hope some of you will take 30 minutes of your lives to watch as I describe the early life of Joe Stirling, Kindertransport boy and former Sheriff of Norwich, as well as a little about how my debut biography came to be published by Pen and Sword Books in January.  In January 2017 this remarkable man’s story will be available even more widely when Skyhorse Publishing of New York publish and distribute my book to the book lovers of the U.S.A.  To purchase a signed copy directly from me take a look at the menu on this WordPress blog to find my contact details.  Many thanks….

SIX MONTHS ANNIVERSARY OF PUBLICATION OF ESCAPING HITLER

 

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SIX MONTHS AGO today, 5th January 2016, my debut biography Escaping Hitler (foreword by Shirley Williams) was published by Pen and Sword Books.  I will never forget the incredible moment when my first 200 copies arrived in six boxes at my house! And when I first presented Joe Stirling with his personal copy!  Since that date so much has happened to me and to the book that I felt this was an appropriate moment to share the phenomonal achievements so far.

Over 30 published articles and reviews including local Archant publications, the Journal from the Association of Jewish Refugees, Lion Magazine and the Rhein Zeitung, regional newspaper for the Rhineland around Koblenz.

Grand official launch at Jarrold Department Store in Norwich on 4th February with 220 people in the audience.  We signed over 50 books that night!

Appeared in Jarrold’s National Bestsellers lists for five weeks running, including No.1 during week of February 13th 2016!

29 Public and private talks and powerpoint presentations including two in Germany (Koblenz Federal Archive and the village of Nickenich).  Seven more in the diary between now and July 2017.  More welcomed!

Escaping Hitler appears in Norfolk Libraries. Waiting lists build up to borrow copies.

403 followers on Facebook and 112 on Twitter

542 copies sold directly from me and Joe, 297 of them signed and sold at our speaking engagements.

From the initial 1300 print run Pen and Sword is now down to the final 200 in the warehouse.  Plans for a further hardback run and a little later for a softback.

In March this year New York Publisher Skyhorse bought the option to publish and distribute Escaping Hitler onto the U.S. market. Projected date for this is January 3rd 2017. I have recently received my Authors Questionnaire in order for us to work together on a marketing plan.  (This was beyond my wildest expectations!)

Escaping Hitler entered for two major Book  Awards – watch this space!

And finally, as a result of the marketing successes so far, I am now contracted to Pen and Sword for a second biographical book: My Lady Lord Mayor: The Seventeen Female Lord Mayor of Norwich 1923-2017.  Estimated publication end 2017/early 2018.

So more work ahead!!

My sincere thanks to everyone who follows this blog, my Facebook page and my Twitter feed, and especially those who have already bought and read the book!  Without your support the statistics would not look nearly as good!

Don’t forget – by clicking on the menu at the top of this page you will find full details of how to order your personally signed copy directly from me. The book makes a great gift!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update on new Koblenz contact

Yesterday, amongst all the gloom of the Brexit vote, I received one ray of sunshine.  This first photograph is of the lady whose family moved into Görgenstrasse 6 (second photo) late in 1939, the same block of apartments in Koblenz, Rhineland, where Ida and Alfred lived since January of that year, when Alfred was released from Dachau.  Ida and Alfred Stern, as you will recall, are Joe Stirling’s parents who perished in the Holocaust. By the time the new family moved in, Günter Stern (Joe’s birth name) was in England, having arrived here in July 1939 on a Kindertransport.  Following my recent book events in Koblenz and Nickenich, directly resulting from coverage in the local Rhineland newspaper, Rhein-Zeitung, I received this email from Hildegard Rockenfeller.  I quote:

“My mother is the daughter of Anna and Anton Marzi living in Koblenz in Görgenstraße 6 during the 2nd world war. She vividly remembers Alfred and Ida Stern who were living on the 3rd floor in the same house by then. My mother is 90 years of age by now, she didn’t know Joe Striling personally, he already had gone to England when my mother and her family moved into the house in Görgenstraße 6. My grandparents had 4 children, 3 sons and a daughter, my mother. One of my mother’s twin brothers also was named Günter. The twin brothers are still alive, her eldest brother Kurt died in 1999. My grandfather Anton was a shoemaker and had his shop on the groundfloor in Görgenstraße 6. My mother always speaks with great respect of Alfred and Ida Stern, she liked them very much.”

I hope that both Hildegard and her mother enjoy reading about Joe’s escape from Nazi Germany and that his biography will bring back fond recollections of Alfred and Ida Stern for Hildegard’s mother. May their memory live on.

 

IMG_0472görgenstr. 6

Magical contact from the Past in Koblenz

As a result of the recent articles in the Rhein-Zeitung in Koblenz and surrounding areas, on my book events in Koblenz and Nickenich, I have received an email from a lady called Hildegard.  She lives about 20km from Koblenz and when reading her newspaper recognised the last known address of Alfred and Ida Strern, the Jewish parents of Günter Stern, now known as Joe Stirling, the subject of my book Escaping Hitler.  Hildegard’s mother, now 90 years of age, moved with her family into the same block of houses,next door to the Sterns, some months after little Günter had climbed aboard his Kindertransport to freedom. Over her life Hildegard’s mother had often spoken of the Jewish couple who were taken away by the Nazis in 1942, remembering them fondly, especially her neighbour Ida.  Hildegard has now requested to buy a copy of my book for her mother to read about what happened to Ida’s son, the boy she no doubt spoke about often.

Wonderful enough to receive this email, but even better, Hildegard has now kindly sent me a photo of the block of houses in Görgenstrasse, Koblenz, from the autumn of 1939, shortly after her mother moved in with her parents. It is believed that the Sterns lived on the upper floor.  This is a wonderful image from the past. I would like to share with you now the photograph, alongside the one of how the building looks today.  Outside the house  there are now two Stolpersteine (engraved brass plates) in honour of Alfred and Ida.  This journey with Joe just keeps on giving.

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Anniversary of a very special Wedding

On 21st May 1946 Joe Stirling married his sweetheart Jean Skitmore in St Mary’s Church, Attleborough.  They were both in Army uniform.  Only three years earlier the groom’s birth name of Günter Stern had been officially changed by the British Army to Günter Stirling. The young soldiers in the barracks dubbed him Joe and the Jewish Kindertransport boy from the Rhineland village of Nickenich has been called that to this day.

In Church that day in 1946,  Joe was sadly the only representative of the groom’s side but Jean’s family turned out in force from the Norfolk villages and towns around Attleborough.  Today it is 70 years since that momentous occasion, a union that would produce four children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren (more on the way!). The couple were happily married for nearly sixty years, but sadly Jean passed away after a long illness in 2002. Joe misses her every day.  Today I am thinking of them.

Joe and Jean on wedding day