Tag: Kindertransport Association

Joe Stirling is 95 today!

Happy Birthday Joe!  Today, 18th October 2019, Joe Stirling, the subject of my biography Escaping Hitler: A Jewish Boy’s Quest for Freedom and His Future (Pen and Sword Books, 2016) is 95 years old.  I first met Joe in 2011 and never imagined our friendship would last as long as it has.  I visited Joe this afternoon in his Norwich Care Home to find his two lovely daughters, Jane and Johanna, sharing his day with him.  We had tea and cake with candles, gifts and a loud rendition of ‘Happy Birthday to You.’ Joe continues to keep a keen interest in how my writing and public speaking careers are progressing and is always proud to hear about it when I have share his life stories with new audiences in Norfolk.  Many Happy Returns Joe!

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TODAY, 27th JANUARY 2018 is Holocaust Memorial Day. Sharing BBC film on Joe Stirling.

Last evening, 26th January 2018 BBC Look East (Regional News programme) showed a short documentary created by Senior Reporter Mike Liggins,  on the Kindertransport , featuring Joe Stirling’s story in his own words, using some of the photographs that appear in my biography Escaping Hitler. The piece is introduced by Stewart White and Suzie Fowler-Watt.  For the full story of Joe’s remarkable life and his contribution to Norwich over seven decades, plus more photographs, check the Menu drop down for details on how to order your copy, signed by both Joe and me.

 

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

 

 

 

Link to Joe Stirling on You Tube

The summer season is  ahead and normally our presentations and public speaking events would be drying up.  Not this year!  18 months after the publication of my debut biography Escaping Hitler: A Jewish Boy’s Quest for Freedom and His Future (Pen and Sword Books 2016 & Skyhorse Publications New York, 2017), our diary has a further six engagements to September, four in the autumn and three in 2018!  This is mainly because Joe is so compelling when at, nearly 93, he tells his own story to audiences all over Norfolk.  For those who have not yet seen this film, do take a look and you will see what I mean!  For details of how to buy your signed copy direct from the author, do look at the menu section of this blog.

 

Escaping Hitler Book signing at Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

I am delighted to have been invited to sign copies of my book Escaping Hitler at the historic Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich on Saturday 19th May on the opening weekend of ‘Kindertransport’ a play by Diane Samuels. Recently Joe Stirling, the subject of this biography of a Kindertransport boy whose destiny was to become Sheriff of Norwich, visited rehearsals and spoke with the cast about this childhood experiences in Nazi Germany.

Signed copies of the book will be available throughout the run (19 – 27 May), although as I am currently completing my next book, I will not be able to attend the theatre every night.  If you live near Norwich and would like to see the play, take a look at the Maddermarket website at maddermarket.co.uk.

Kindertransport by Diane Samuels, Directed by Tony Fullwood

As the clouds of war gather in 1930’s Germany, a desperate mother forces her nine year old daughter onto a train, sending her out of danger and into the arms of strangers.
In peaceful, suburban, 1980’s England, a proud mother prepares to say farewell to her grown-up daughter, as she cuts the ties of childhood to leave the family home.
Then a chance discovery opens an unhealed wound.

I look forward to meeting the cast and the audiences.  Joe’s experiences should certainly complement the text of the play.  This photo shows Joe with the cast. Thanks to the Theatre Manager Rebecca for arranging the book signing.  I am looking forward to it!

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Escaping Hitler Talk success at Norfolk Record Office

On Wednesday 8th February, I was honoured to give a talk at the iconic Norfolk Record Office where so much wonderful research material, stretching from far off medieval times, is stored.  I have spent many happy hours pouring over documents and photographs AND NOW I was here as a guest lunchtime speaker.  About fifty people turned up to see my brand new slide show, outlining the remarkable life of Kindertransport refugee Joe Stirling, whose destiny was to become  Sheriff of Norwich (and so much more!) The audience were attentive and respectful as I described my research journey, including ‘footstepping’ his parents’ final forced walk through Koblenz in March 1942, on their way to Poland and their deaths at Sobibor death camp.  Happier photos followed and the audience were delighted when Joe stood to join me for a question and answer session.  He answered four or five questions in his usual eloquent style.  And then we signed books!  Very very pleased and our thanks go to Karen Gaffney and her team at NRO who organised the event.  And for all the tweets they were sending out!

Twelve months since Escaping Hitler launched in Jarrold Department Store in Norwich

Cannot believe it is exactly 12 months today since our Grand Launch in Jarrold.  It was one of the most thrilling moments of my life when I came into the room to be greeted by 220 relatives, friends and members of the public.  And then to see Joe Stirling at the front, just as I had always imagined it might be.  The two of us at our launch book signing!  And since then it has gone from strength to strength, the first print run of 1,300 books  by Pen and Sword Books selling out before Christmas, a  reprint, a visit to Germany to give two talks and sell books, over 40 public speaking engagements, most of them with Joe, and now in January this year the book has been published and launched in the U.S. by Skyhorse Publications of New York.  Loads of coverage and reviews in the press and in magazines such as the Association of Jewish Refugees and Lions Clubs International, nearly 500 followers on Facebook.  Wonderful progress –  and all the while researching for my second book!  Just wanted to share my joy with you.