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Hybrid book talk: Deborah Cadbury: The School that Escaped the Nazis

July 21 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

In partnership with Insiders/Outsiders and the Association of Jewish Refugees.

Deborah Cadbury

Deborah Cadbury

In 1933, as Hitler came to power, schoolteacher Anna Essinger hatched a daring and courageous plan: to smuggle her entire school out of Nazi Germany. Essinger had read Mein Kampf and knew the terrible danger that Hitler’s hate-fuelled ideologies posed to her pupils. She knew that to protect them she had to get her pupils to the safety of England.

But the safe haven that Essinger struggled to create in a rundown manor house at Bunce Court in Kent would test her to the limit. As the news from Europe continued to darken, she rescued successive waves of fleeing children and, when war broke out, she and her pupils faced a second exodus. One by one countries fell to the Nazis and before long unspeakable rumours began to circulate. Red Cross messages stopped and parents in occupied Europe vanished. In time, Anna Essinger would take in orphans who had given up all hope; the survivors of unimaginable horrors. Her school offered these scarred children the love and security they needed to rebuild their lives, showing them that, despite everything, there was still a world worth fighting for.

Deborah Cadbury will discuss her book on the school, which features moving first-hand testimony, 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 Nazi persecution and the Holocaust. It is also the story of one woman’s refusal to allow her beliefs in a better, more equitable world to be overtaken by the evil that surrounded her.

We will also hear from former Bunce Court pupil Ruth Boronow Danson, supported by her daughter Jacqueline Boronow Danson, speaking about her memories, based on her letters from the school. Also Evan Oliner, the grandson of survivor and former pupil, Sam Oliner, will speak about how Bunce Court helped his grandfather. The event will also feature excerpts from the AJR Refugee Voices archive.

About the speaker

Deborah Cadbury is the author of ten acclaimed books including Queen Victoria’s Matchmaking, Princes at War, Chocolate Wars (under option for television drama with Fable Pictures), The Dinosaur Hunters, Space Race, The Lost King of France and Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, for which her accompanying BBC series received a BAFTA nomination and which was a Sunday Times bestseller. Before turning to writing full-time she worked for 30 years as a BBC TV producer and executive producer. She has won numerous international awards including an Emmy.

Event guidelines for those joining online:

1. The Library will send you a Zoom link and joining instructions via email prior to the event. Please check your junk email folders.

2. Please try and join 5 minutes before the event start time and we will let you into the room (do try and bear with us if this takes a few minutes).

3. If you would like to ask a question during the event, please type your question into the chat function, and we will endeavour to answer as many questions as possible during the Q&A. Your webcam will not be seen during this event.

4. The event will be recorded for the Library’s YouTube channel and will be shared at a later date.

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July 21
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm


The Wiener Holocaust Library
The Wiener Holocaust Library
London, WC1B 5DP United Kingdom
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One comment so far

  • Sue shipman says:

    My late mother in law Susi Shipman from Wuppertal went to Bunce Court. She always spoke movingly of Tante Anna

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