Review: Deborah Cadbury – The School that Escaped the Nazis

The School that Escaped the Nazis
Deborah Cadbury

“The extraordinary true story of a courageous school principal who saw the dangers of Nazi Germany and took drastic steps to save those in harm’s way. In 1933, the same year Hitler came to power, schoolteacher Anna Essinger saved her small, progressive school from Nazi Germany. Anna had read Mein Kampf and knew the terrible danger that Hitler’s hate-fueled ideologies posed to her pupils, so she hatched a courageous and daring plan: to smuggle her school to the safety of England.”

This book is again a tribute to all of the children and their families murdered during the rise and fall of Nazi Germany. I found myself again horrified at the sheer number of children murdered in the Holocaust. This book flips between the school as it is established in Britain, and then into its students’ origins as well. There are some children who survived largely in the ‘wild’ of Germany, and we also see their perspective.

This is not nearly as confronting as Always Remember your Name, thankfully. It’s an interesting read, and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in alternative schooling perspectives as well as those who would like to further broaden their understanding of the traumas visited on children during the wars.

It is becoming more and more obvious and acknowledged in society today that children often suffer from trauma that has repercussions throughout their lifetimes – and which may never be resolved. It is the same for the adults who managed to survive and that may never be able to recover. This can also be seen in the novel The Little Wartime Library, which briefly narrates what one of the incarcerated adults looked like after the freeing of POWs.

Reading this book was heavy going at times and it took me a number of sittings to digest it. I’m normally not interested in history, but I’m not sure that can be said of me any more! I have read quite a few books about the Holocaust now, including Always Remember Your Name, The Dressmakers of Auschwitz and The Keeper of Miracles. I have yet another waiting on my bedside table for me to read.

Hachette | 10 May 2022 | AU$32.99 | paperback

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