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A 95-year-old woman who escaped from the Nazis after fleeing Europe on the Kindertransport line said she is indebted to Britain but fears a new wave of anti-Semitism.
Ruth Jacobs was just ten years old when her parents sent her and her little brother Harry on a train to escape Nazi-occupied Austria.
Ruth’s father Rudolf knew that the so called kindertransport line was the only sure way of saving his children from the SS.
The decision to send Ruth and Harry on a train bound for Holland and then a ship to England saved the siblings from the horrors of the holocaust.
Ruth, speaking ahead of the 85th anniversary of the Kindertransport line, said that she was indebted to the UK for giving her a “wonderful life.”
But Ruth added that she was now alarmed by the rise in anti-Semitism following since Hamas’ terror attack on Israel.
She said: “What can I do? I feel that so little I can do to help this. I mean, you give a bit of money, it’s a drop in the ocean.”
Ruth remembered the day the Nazis arrived in her native Austria in 1938, and Swastikas suddenly appearing outside homes.
The feared SS duly put an officer outsider the family’s shop, because the business was Jewish owned.
Ruth’s father Rudolf knew he was in a race against time to save his family, and when he heard rumours of the Kindertransport, he was elated.
Ruth remembers the day the family travelled to Vienna to send her and Harry on their way.
She said: “We were there at the station with my parents and my grandmother and my mother was saying, be a good girl, just obey people.
“And frankly, to be perfectly honest, we went to the station, it was dark and one minute I was with my parents and the next minute I was with Harry with my brother.”
Ruth recalled how underwhelmed she was by England, which she found drab, cold and grey.
Ruth and Harry were eventually separated and sent to live with different families in the south of England.
She recalled the moment her brother realised they were being split up, and walking back to the car as he “cried and cried.”
She said : “Harry started crying and crying and he cried and cried that I didn’t know any of this.
“I mean, I’m forced to go back into the car with the others and the man who was whose car it was said, and the girl conveyed it to me that he’s taking me to his home.”
Ruth eventually persuaded her foster family to take in her parents as a cook and gardener just before all borders and escape routes out of Austria closed. They arrived in Britain in August 1939.
Ruth recalled the day the family was finally reunited. She said: “We are crying and, it’s indescribable. I was deliriously happy.”
The family later began to learn about the full extent of the holocaust, which claimed the lives of millions of Jews in Europe, including her grandmother Sophie Kalmus.
She said: “She died in Auschwitz because they just cleared all the old people out and put them into a so life after the war in England.”
Ruth carved out a successful life for herself in the UK, marrying Norman Jacobs (deceased) and raising two daughters.
She said: “I have to say my life in England has been wonderful.
I am one of the most fortunate people you will ever ever meet because I think England has been more than good to me.
“I’ve met wonderful people. I’ve had a wonderful marriage.
I was very happy with my husband. I have two lovely daughters.
“I’ve got a boy and a girl as grandchildren and I have had nothing, nothing but joy and kindness and consideration from everybody that I have met.”
The Kindertransport operation rescued almost 10,000 unaccompanied, mostly Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Germany, Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia.
Ruth will be one of the many AJR Kindertransport refugees at the Commemorative service to mark 85th anniversary of the Kindertransport, organised by The Association of Jewish Refugees and World Jewish Relief