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

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

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

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The SAS in Operation Galia fought for forty days behind enemy lines in Italy and then, exhausted and pursued by the enemy, exfiltrated across the Apennine mountains.

I look forward to sharing it further with other Norfolk groups, such as the Women’s Institute, History Groups etc. Travelling on those trains were the parents of Joe Stirling, subject of my biography Escaping Hitler. Last evening, 13th October 2020, I was delighted to share my presentation via Zoom with the good ladies of Youlgrave Women’s Institute. Phyllida Scrivens deserves our thanks and applause for having captured this complex story sensitively and thoroughly. Phyllida Scrivens brings the ninety years of Joe's remarkable life together in an accessible and entertaining narrative.The total number in the bunker must have exceed a hundred individuals, all of whom could see their final days slipping away as the Russians entered Berlin and began to seal off Hitler’s bunker.

During this period, Hitler was still surrounded by his personal staff, from cleaners and cooks to his personal telephone operator, his stenographers and secretaries, his guards, his chosen ministers with, in some cases, their families and a range of military officers including a number of his senior generals. Joe was over seventy years old when, quite by chance, he learnt the truth about his parents' demise.

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. As you are aware, Joe was very special to me, not just as the subject of my first book, but as my friend and confidant.

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A few years later, the teenage Günter, isolated and excluded, set out on his own to walk from Koblenz to England, with little money and only a creased official letter from the English Jewish Committee telling him when the next Kindertransport would leave Cologne, in July 1939. He was intent on catching a ferry to England and freedom, but the outcome of his journey was not exactly as he had planned. Peter died in 1973, having been the Mayor of Nickenich, two days before his Golden Wedding celebration. Overall I’m glad I discovered Halls’ work, because otherwise I wouldn’t have known about these feats. I was amazed at the number of groups I/we have spoken to, resulting in nearly 300 signed books sold following the talks.

It took some time to walk the six miles back to base late that evening, the men having either missed the last bus or more likely having spent every last penny on best beer. the courage and determination of escapees and evaders trying to go through enemy occupied territory to reach safety with the Allies. The true story of a remarkable boy who walked across Europe to escape the dangers of Nazi Germany and went on to become Sheriff of Norwich. A number were given Hitler’s personal assistance in the form of transport out of the city center and even to the two airports still open to the Luftwaffe.

Always in the front rows, amongst the dignitaries, was Joe Stirling, Norwich’s very own Kindertransport boy. Instead of wallowing in misery and becoming embittered by his experiences, he embraced life and love. I show original photographs (some shown here), all illustrating personal moments of “Can this really be happening? The plane took heavy fire ten minutes from the target and lost hydraulics but they continued on to drop the bomb.



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