Tag: Nazi Germany

Incredible list of speaking engagements for Escaping Hitler 2016 & 2017

 

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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.

 

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75th Anniversary of the Jewish Deportation from Koblenz & chance encounter with the past

Today, 22nd March 2017, is the 75th Anniversary of the deportation of over 300 Jewish people by the Nazis, from the Rhineland city of Koblenz, to their ultimate murders in the death camps in Poland.

Travelling on those trains were the parents of Joe Stirling, subject of my biography Escaping Hitler. Their names were Alfred and Ida Stern and I remember them today.  

But I have an amazing co-incidence to share with you.  In February this year Joe Stirling and I gave an illustrated lunchtime talk at the Norfolk Record Office, a wonderful venue for historians, genealogists and researchers. Amongst our audience was a young couple from Dereham in Norfolk.  They told us before the talk that they were there because Ilan’s family had Koblenz war-time connections.  I began the talk, and quite unusually included a slide of the Balduinbrücke, the main bridge across the Mosel in Koblenz.   After we had completed our usual book signing, Ilan and his wife Anne approached our table and Ilan spoke directly to Joe.

He said that he was an Israeli Jew, Ilan Schönewald, whose family had originated in Koblenz.  He had reason to believe, from listening to my talk and matching the details with those from his family folklore, that his great-grandmother BERTA SCHÖNEWALD, may be been on that same deportation train on 22nd March 1942, heading to her death in Sobibor death camp.  It was if the past had reached out to cling to the present, bringing both Ilan and Joe together for a brief moment in honour of their close family members who had shared their last days in the most gruesome of circumstances.  We exchanged numbers, Anne promising to email me photos of Berta.  Once home, I double checked my research material, like a conscientious biographer (!) and found in a German newspaper report from 1992, the 60th anniversary of the deportation, the list that contained the names of Joe’s parents and step-grandmother Sabine.  Sure enough, Berta’s name was also on the list.  They had been together over that dreadful period, most probably both thinking of their children (Berta of her daughter escaped to England and Alfred and Ida of their son Günter (Joe) also safely in England).

It is co-incidences and remarkable encounters like these that make biography such a fascinating and rewarding genre.  RIP Alfred, Ida, Sabine and Berta.

Joe Stirling takes ‘Escaping Hitler’ to his daughter’s old school

Yesterday, 1st February Joe Stirling and I gave a presentation about Escaping Hitler to students and staff at @NorwichHigh (Norwich High School for Girls).  We were part of the excellent Lunch and Learn scheme where anyone is welcome to join a speaker at lunchtime in the library space and enjoy a buffet lunch while listening….  everyone was so welcoming.  The students were mesmerised as ever by Joe telling his personal story of life as a Jewish boy in Nazi Germany.  Our visit was timed to be as near as possible to Holocaust Memorial Day and we ended our slide show with a tribute to Joe’s parents, Alfred and Ida,who were murdered in Sobibor in 1942.

 Also poignant was that Jane, Joe’s eldest child, won a scholarship to Norwich High School back in the late 1950s.  This is the main reason the family moved to the Unthank Road. Joe and his wife Jean would have visited the school many times for parents evenings, concerts, sports days, bazaars and the like! The story is documented in Escaping Hitler and it is wonderful to think that my book will remain their stunning new Library for the girls to read for years to come.

Our thanks to Mr Emerson-Moering for inviting us to speak.   Photos courtesy of Emily Marchant, Communications Officer.

Another Chance to see Joe in action!

Nearly one year since this short film was broadcast on Mustard TV in Norwich, here is another chance to see Joe in action as he is interviewed and filmed in his own home. Just follow the link below or copy and paste into your browser.  With so many more followers on Facebook than this time last year, this is an opportunity for the ‘newbies’ to see this delightful piece of footage, filmed just before Holocaust Memorial Day 2016.  Since the filming Joe has two further great-grandchildren, has turned 92 and is looking forward to the publication of his biography Escaping Hitler in the USA by Skyhorse Publishing of New York.  If you would like to buy a copy of his book, signed by both Joe and by me, maybe as a Christmas present, you will find details of how to order on the Menu section of this blog.  Enjoy!

Escaping Hitler: Joe Stirling’s story of Holocaust survival is preserved in print

 

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Your Norfolk Magazine featuring Escaping Hitler event!

One for the diary: Delighted to discover this inside my free Autumn edition of Your Norfolk, the freebie from Norfolk County Council letter recently dropped into every household in the county.  It is the first promotion of my talk on Joe Stirling’s life and my biography Escaping Hitler, scheduled for the Norfolk Records Office on Wednesday 22nd February from 10.30.  This wonderful archive has been invaluable to me during my research periods for both this book and for my forthcoming book to be published by Pen and Sword Books, My Lady Lord Mayor: The Seventeen Female Lord Mayors of Norwich 1923 – 2017. Joe and I are looking forward to addressing an audience of historians and book lovers in this prestigious building next to County Hall.  Keep an eye on the website http://www.archives.norfolk.gov.uk for details of how to reserve yourself a seat!

The following two events in March and June look fascinating too!

 

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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.

BOOKS BOUND FOR NICKENICH

Delighted, proud and pleased to be parceling up 15 signed copies of Escaping Hitler, to be sent tomorrow by carrier to the Ortsgemeinde (Town Hall) in Joe’s birth village of Nickenich in the German Rhineland.  The Mayor, Herr Gottfried Busch has ordered the books as gifts for his special Civic guests.  I am delighted to be able to fulfil this order and to know that yet more people can now learn about the life of that little boy who left their village with his anguished mother the morning after Kristallnacht after watching his father being arrested by the Gestapo.  The family would never be seen in the village again.

We were fortunate to take the book to Koblenz and Nickenich in May this year, giving an illustrated presentation to an audience of over 80 people in Nickenich, and signing no less than 40 books, many to people whose parents and grandparents had known the Stern family during the 1920s and 1930s when they were an integral part of the community.  These photos show me with Burgermeister Herr Busch at the signing and views of the village illustrating the importance of farming in the past.  The houses do not have back gardens, they have rear yards with former barns and shelters for animals.  It was like stepping back in time. Thank you Nickenich.

 

 

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!