The extraordinary true story of progressive schoolteacher, Anna Essinger, the woman who defied Hitler, smuggling her school and its pupils from Nazi Germany to the safety of England

'All the violence I had experienced before felt like a bad dream. It was a paradise. I think most of the children felt it was a paradise.'

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. Anna 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 Anna struggled to create in a rundown manor house in Kent would test her to the limit. As the news from Europe continued to darken, Anna 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 would take in orphans who had given up all hope; the survivors of unimaginable horrors. Anna's 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.

Featuring moving first-hand testimony, and drawn from 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.


ISBN13: 9781529365788
Format: Paperback / softback
Number of Pages: 448
Publication Date: 28 Apr 2022
Publisher: John Murray Press
Publication City, Country: United Kingdom
Dimensions (cm): 2.32(H) x 1.52(L) x 0.36(W)580
Weight (gm): 580

Author Biography

Deborah Cadbury is the author of ten acclaimed books including Queen Victoria's Matchmaking, Princes at War, Chocolate Wars, The Dinosaur Hunters 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 thirty years as a BBC TV producer and executive producer. She has won numerous international awards, including an Emmy.


A gripping story beautifully told * Jane Ridley on QUEEN VICTORIA'S MATCHMAKING *
From the pen of a writer of skill and style, this surprising narrative leaves you wanting more -- Paula Byrne * The Times, on QUEEN VICTORIA'S MATCHMAKING *
Irresistible. This is history brought bang up to date in the hands of a master storyteller * Juliet Nicolson on CHOCOLATE WARS *
Engaging and scholarly, confident and compassionate -- Kate Colquhoun * Daily Telegraph on CHOCOLATE WARS *
An affecting human story, fluent and highly readable * Hilary Mantel on THE LOST KING OF FRANCE *
Absolutely stupendous... This is history as it should be. I can't praise it highly enough * Alison Weird on THE LOST KING OF FRANCE *
**Praise for The School That Escaped the Nazis**
A stirring account of a German schoolteacher's efforts to build an oasis for children fleeing the Nazi advance across Europe . . . Impressively researched and vividly told, this is a captivating portrait of courage and resilience in the face of unspeakable horror. * Publishers Weekly *
Anna Essinger's wartime school for Jewish refugees reminds us of the lifelong impact which one person's compassion and imagination can make on others - even in the darkest of times. Cadbury's story packs a real emotional punch. * CAROLINE SHENTON, author of National Treasures *
What gives this book its immediacy and freshness is the fact that Deborah Cadbury has spoken to so many of the witnesses to a phenomenal story. The woman who brought an entire school to Kent from Germany, and saved so many children from the Nazis, was a completely heroic figure. This story is an uplifting reminder of how courage, high virtue and intelligence can overcome even the most appalling odds. At many points, with tearful eyes, I cheered - it is a book which stirs up deep emotion, and high admiration, for the author as well as its subject. * A N WILSON *
A moving and meticulously documented account of how one woman first rescued and then educated hundreds of Jewish children from the horrors of Nazi Europe. A powerful story of hope at a time of tragedy and one which even though set more than eighty years ago sadly has a resonance today. * ALEX GERLIS, author of Best of Our Spies and Agent in Berlin *
An inspiring, well-researched life portrait of a spectacularly heroic teacher * Kirkus *
Emotionally compelling. . . Cadbury has constructed a lively and compelling narrative * Observer *
A devastatingly affecting book. [Cadbury's] chapters alternate between the nightmarish experiences of Jewish children in the Third Reich, and a kind of earthly paradise. . . Bunce Court! I keep saying the name to myself because it encapsulates all that is gentle and comically charming about wartime England. * The Times *
An astonishing book. It is a both a granular catalogue of unbelievable cruelty and at the same time a testament to the determination of hundreds of thousands of kind, compassionate people of every nationality who stood up to the evils of Nazism in defence of children. But the book is not just that. It describes a woman of great guile and incredible organizational talent who outwitted Eichmann, Himmler and that whole shower of bandits whose talents for murder knew no bounds. * SIR JOHN CARR *
The School That Escaped the Nazis

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