Powerful animated films, in which elderly Jewish Holocaust survivors tell their stories of Nazi persecution in their childhood and how they escaped from occupied Europe to Britain.
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I was born in Zwickau, which is in Eastern Germany.
There's quite a big mountain range which separates
Germany from the Czech Republic,
and these are called the Erzgebirge, the Copper Mountains.
My father took us all over
the mountains, leaving everything behind, and went to Prague.
Hitler marched into Prague in March 1939.
My father realised he's on a wanted list.
So he left my mother and went to Poland.
It was extremely difficult for my mother to be left alone with
two small children.
Street by street, Jews were cleared
and, any moment, it was probably our turn.
My mother, she must have had a will of iron and great courage.
She went from one embassy to another, queued up all night.
And if she ever got to the desk, they said to her, "We will take you,
"but we can't take your two children."
And my mother wouldn't separate us. So she hung on to us.
The only thing she could think of was to hope somebody would
take her and the children.
She was rejected by everyone. But then, the miracle happened.
A knock on the door meant death, because it meant deportation.
But for us, a knock on the door was the beginning of a new life
because we opened the door to a woman from the British Embassy
who had braved the curfew.
She brought the entry visa to Britain,
train tickets to get through Germany, through Holland
and a ferry to Ramsgate.
BUT she did not have an exit visa.
You were supposed to have an exit visa to cross borders.
And she said, "You'll just have to say you're going to see
"family in Holland
"and take nothing with you that could possibly show anyone
"that you're going for more than a day."
We made it through Czechoslovakia without any problem,
and we got on the train in Germany.
Sat down, thinking, "Good, we've got a carriage to ourselves,"
when an SS Officer came and sat next to her.
He was trying to chat her up.
And he realised what was going on and he couldn't help us.
But the fact that he sat there, now that might have been her salvation.
Off we went to the hook of Holland and got on a ferry to Ramsgate.
On the ferry, I kept saying, "When are we going to be in England?"
My mother got really fed up of me,
she said, "When it starts raining, you'll know you're in England."
As I was on the train, it began raining.
And I must have been the only person there who was just totally
thrilled, because I knew I was in England.
The next morning was Sunday, September 3rd 1939.
As we arrived to Liverpool Street Station, I put my foot
on the platform, suddenly, everything went quiet
and there was a huge announcement on the loudspeaker
and everybody stood, perfectly still.
The announcement was Chamberlain, saying...
"I am speaking to you from the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street.
"This morning, the British Ambassador in Berlin
"handed the German Government a final note
"stating that unless we heard from them by 11 o'clock,
"that they were prepared at once
"to withdraw their troops from Poland,
"a state of war would exist between us.
"I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received,
"and that, consequently, this country is at war with Germany."
That was 11 o'clock, 3rd September 1939,
as my foot hit the platform.
And that was the beginning of the Second World War.
The liberation of Belsen had been put on general
release in every cinema and people were asked to go and see that.
And of course, I went.
There was no question of me being too young to see that sort of thing.
And I was totally and absolutely horrified,
as everyone was watching it.
And I just felt terribly emotionally disturbed
and the feeling was overwhelming.
I just couldn't believe that these sort of things had happened
and that my family had disappeared in that terrible way.
I have never got over what I have learned about the Holocaust,
and what I've read.
I mean, if you look around this house,
you'll see I've got a huge section in the next room
of Holocaust literature, people who have written about the Holocaust.
And everything I do, I believe, has an element that relates to it.
Not voluntarily, it's something I can't help myself.
For example, if I'm peeling potatoes, as I throw the potato peel
away, I think about the girls in Auschwitz who
looked for a bit of potato peel because they were starving.
Another thing that's been left with me
and my children and grandchildren always laugh about it -
I'm terrified of being without food.
In my car I always have something to eat.
Now, I don't eat a great deal myself, but I always have water
and I always have something to eat.
And that is definitely a throwback to the fear of hunger.
However much you can learn about history,
and of course it is important to learn and to think you're not going
to make the same mistakes again, the fact is we do, as human beings,
as parents we make mistakes that we promise ourselves we will never do.
I think human beings can't help it,
the frailty of the human being is such that we do repeat mistakes.
But I think, whatever people say about young people today,
I think they are more tolerant.
So maybe there is hope. I think humanity is getting better.
Hopefully I'm right.
In 1938, when I was eight years old,
there occurred what has become known as the Polenaktion.
Early in the morning, we were all sleeping in our beds.
The Nazis entered our flat.
We were going to be taken away.
We were put on board a train.
We came to realise that we were all polish Jews.
We were luckier than some, we had been taken as an entire family.
Some of the people who had been separated, they didn't know
whether they would ever see one another ever again.
To make matters worse, there were people of all ages -
babies, there were very old people,
people who were ill, some had been taken out of hospital beds.
Travelled for the rest of the day and after it got dark...
..the train stopped and we were told to get off.
Outside the station, there were two rows of SS men.
We were marched off.
And the rumour went round that we were being taken to some
remote place where we would all be shot.
I did see people collapse through exhaustion,
and I was left in no doubt about the brutality of these SS men.
We marched for some hours.
And then we were stopped at a railway line,
and we were told that the SS men were not coming any further.
It seems likely that this was, in fact, the Polish frontier.
The SS Men wouldn't want to cross that at this particular stage,
that could provoke an international incident.
We were told that we would have to go on marching between the rails,
because on either side there were ditches,
and anybody who fell risked injury, not only from the fall,
but also being trampled.
Eventually, soldiers and police came and took us prisoner.
What the Poles were trying to do was to force us back into Germany.
The German authorities were ready for that
and attempts to send us back failed.
We managed to get to Krakow, where we had some relations,
and we arrived on their doorstep.
Round about the time that we went to Poland, Britain allowed children
to be brought over, in what came to be known as the Kindertransport.
I was very lucky to be one of the few to be rescued from Poland.
I would have died with all the rest of my family if I hadn't been.
I went to foster parents in Coventry.
In the autumn of 1940, the so-called Blitz began.
Coventry was one of the most severely bombed cities.
We had 17 raids when a few bombs were dropped on the city.
And then one night, we had a very big raid.
Now, Home Office advice was that if you hadn't got an air-raid
shelter, the safest part of the house was under the stairs.
Under our stairs we had a small pantry.
So we all crowded into that, foster parents,
my sister and I and the dog.
He was very vicious, he bit quite a few people.
We tried to keep our distance but whenever a bomb came very near,
the dog growled.
And we were really afraid, all of us.
We heard a very loud hissing sound
and it was obvious the bomb was coming near.
It landed just a few doors down.
The next morning, when we emerged, the house had lost its doors
and its windows and part of the roof.
It's amazing that there were many small air raids,
and generally speaking, people took them in their stride.
But during these big air raids,
I certainly felt very much afraid, and I don't think many people,
if they are truthful, could say otherwise.
Germany was a very, very advanced country.
It's produced some of the world's finest musicians,
some of the world's finest writers.
It had made advances in human civilisation, in all its spheres,
and so it is utterly amazing that a country which was
so advanced should suddenly descend to barbarities, which really
bear comparison with what was happening in the Middle Ages.
There are some people who think, quite wrongly, that the
study of history is a waste of time, that one should study things
more to do with the present age, rather than study a bygone age.
I don't agree with that at all, because first of all,
the only way we can understand the present is by finding out how
it came into being, as a result of the past.
But, at least as importantly, perhaps even more so,
is those who don't study history are destined to repeat it.
And things which can happen once, can happen a second time.
One must study the conditions which led up to them,
and try to avoid the repetition of these dreadful things.
Back in my school days, about 1938,
I have a wonderful photograph, a class photograph of all of us here.
It's something which is a great pleasure to look at,
but also extremely sad.
Because, unfortunately, the Germans killed many, many children.
One and a half million innocent children were
killed during the Holocaust.
Why should innocent people, just because they were Jewish,
be killed for no reason at all?
And I look at these faces, I don't know who survived and who didn't.
I only know that I survived.
We had this radio in our dining room,
and Father was often listening,
but when he had the news on, you could hear this shouting,
and that of course was the typical Hitler speech-making.
Everybody was aware of this knock at the door
and it always came during the night,
when they came to take away people, either to take them
to prison or to beat them up or whatever,
and that fear was there all the time I was at home.
You feel insecure, you don't feel at ease.
You can't relax and you know that something is wrong.
Germans didn't come into Czechoslovakia
until 15th March 1939.
And I realised that my parents were wanting to get the children
away to safety.
And my turn came, I left home on 28th March 1939.
The only thing I really remember is getting into a taxi.
I remember my mother and my father and my brother standing near me.
But I cannot remember saying goodbye to them, I can't remember
whether I hugged them, kissed them, whether I cried.
I have absolutely no recollection whatsoever.
We were travelling by train, through to London.
But I ended up in Wallsend on Tyne,
where a very kind family had offered to give me a home.
I start getting homesick and I start feeling very, very poorly.
Because A, I was missing my parents,
B, I didn't speak one word of English.
The food was totally different.
I'd never eaten toast, porridge, kippers, marmalade,
all these normal English things.
And I just basically cried for as long as I stayed with them.
From the age of nine, in those four years, in those war years,
I lived with so many different people.
I mean, I would think I must have been at least
through 15 to 20 different places.
I never saw my parents after 28th March 1939.
Father, he was transported on 19th April 1942,
and he was already dead by 8th May.
My mother is a different story altogether.
The last proper evidence I have that she was alive
was when she was transported to a small concentration
transportation camp near Bratislava, called Sered'.
And I've been working for years and years to try and trace her.
And I am almost at the end of the trail.
I received some evidence
from a testimony given by somebody in 1962,
who could have been on the same transport that my mother
was taken on and on a death march
on which she would have been shot and killed.
The impact on me is something which has never left me.
Every single day I rue the destruction of my family.
To me, family is the most important building brick for human beings
and that's why I find it so hard today.
Well, the Nazi occupation as such is difficult to define,
because the Nazis only actually came in to Czechoslovakia
two weeks before I left.
Although from '33 onwards, we were aware of it in the family.
Me, as a small child, I wasn't.
I think the biggest impact on me is the fact that I've learned to
stand on my own two feet and fight my own battles.
I have not reached what I had set out to do,
but looking backwards now, it doesn't really make any odds.
I've been basically lucky.
I had a decent husband, and I've got a family.
Although, there's nobody here. And what can you expect?
although many human beings like to think they're superior to animals,
we are only an animal. We are basically robots.
We can't control anything.
We've just got to cope with what we've got.
What's happiness, can you define it?
I've not been... I haven't been happy in one sense.
I've had moments when I have enjoyed life.
If you're on your own you don't want to sit in your own four walls.
What do you do? Nobody wants you.
So you do voluntary work.
And I'm a thorn in the side of most folks when I do voluntary work
because I speak up for the people who have problems.
I'm sure it has quite a lot to do with my history
because I've no graves to go to, where are my parents,
one God knows where, one in the ashes up in Auschwitz.
Therefore, I also don't have a religious belief.
I mean, one of the things which often comes into my mind -
you know if we have a terrible accident,
everybody prays for these people.
How many millions and millions and millions of prayers have been
said since religion and superstition came in?
And we're no better.
I think people are not aware of other people's experiences
and how it can be hurtful or how it can be good.
The other story which I could tell you is, the kindness of strangers.
The number of people who have helped me,
until I was able to stand on my own feet,
I do remember the day the Nazis came to power.
I was almost 13. I remember looking down from our window.
The Nazis always celebrated their successes by torchlight processions.
And the Nazis marched past and sang songs, bloodthirsty songs.
The Nuremberg Laws which came in, in the autumn of 35,
legalised anti-Jewish measures.
We were no longer allowed to go to cinemas and theatres
and be members of clubs.
As a child, of any age, to be excluded from your peers is a blow.
You feel inferior and you question your existence.
There were three Jewish boys, including me, left in the class.
The main Hitler Youth leader came and said,
"It's time you left the school, we don't want you here."
I left school at 16.
If it hadn't been for the Nazis, I probably would have gone to
university, but we could no longer do that,
because universities were no longer accepting Jews.
At the age of 18 I went to Hamburg, to college, to learn English.
In the evenings we got together and we heard the news -
we knew something was going to happen.
In Nuremberg, my parents were arrested, kept standing
in the square in the centre of the town for about two hours.
Were abused, spat upon.
The Synagogue was set on fire.
The women, the older people and the children were sent home.
When my mother got home, about 4 o'clock in the morning,
she rang where I was staying.
She said, "Father's gone away."
Which was code for, he's been arrested. "Get dressed.
"Go for a walk."
So, that's what I did. I sat on park benches.
Then I went round the department stores.
I tried to make myself small, not to stand out.
I could see the smoke from the burning synagogues everywhere.
I could also see groups of Jewish people
being frogmarched through the streets.
Windows were smashed.
The Germans invented the term Kristallnacht,
because of all the broken glass.
Eventually I went home.
The Landlady said, "The Gestapo has been for you."
It's a good job that I did leave the digs,
otherwise I would have been sent to a concentration camp.
Father was arrested
and then sent to Dachau concentration camp near Munich.
He was there for five or six weeks.
Most of the people were released just before Christmas '38.
And then he came home and he was a really changed man.
It was then quite obvious that there was no future for us
There was nowhere to go. No country wanted us.
Frank, my brother, was in Leeds. He tried to very hard to get me
a trainee post and finally succeeded.
And I came to Leeds.
We managed to get visas for our parents and they came.
Thank God, because four days later, war broke out.
Well, the day war broke out,
a policeman came, asking us to come down
to report to police headquarters.
We were registered as enemy aliens.
Cameras and binoculars were impounded,
which were considered spying equipment.
Churchill was by then just become Prime Minister.
And his civil servants famously asked him,
"What shall we do with these enemy aliens?"
And Churchill's words were, "Collar the lot."
So we were interned, father, brother and me.
Well, all of us felt a bit sore,
because we were more opposed to the Nazis than the British natives were.
We were kicked out there because we were Jewish.
And we were interned here because we were German.
We wanted to fight the Nazis
and instead we were kept behind barbed wire.
Survival is instinct, it's natural. Everybody has that.
You try desperately to get out of Germany,
which we eventually succeeded in.
And, well, you know you are a survivor because you're there.
Well, obviously my contemporaries who committed these
atrocities are dreadful.
But I'm concerned that I sometimes think what I would have been
if I hadn't been Jewish.
Would I have been a Nazi? And I probably would.
You know, it's very difficult for a 12, 13, 14-year-old to resist
the temptations that the Nazis offered for kids of that age.
Uniforms, campfires, learning to shoot rifles.
Things like that that they did in the Hitler Youth.
And it's very, very difficult for a kid of that age to resist
that temptation and not be part of the crowd.
It's a warning, I suppose, to people to be vigilant, not be bystanders.
But to speak out if they encounter bad things or evil things.
This is exactly what happened, Germans stood by and did nothing,
and then sometimes were enthusiastic supporters of Hitler.
So, that is the warning, you keep constant vigilance.
I was 14. In the wagon was only a very small window.
It was hot.
We were so cramped, we couldn't even sit down.
Some people had some water, and some people didn't.
After two days and one night,
through the wagon I could see SS men with dogs, barbed wire,
We'd arrived in Birkenau, Auschwitz.
And they said, "Men on one side,
"women children on the other side".
And we made two long queues.
Mengele happened to be on the selection platform.
He pointed the finger to the left or to the right.
I'd noticed a lot of people who were chosen to go to the right
were fitter men.
To the left, children went, mothers with children, elderly men.
I knew that's not a good point.
You know, if they don't need you, they kill you and that's it.
Then suddenly, they tried to take a child away from her mother,
and she started screaming and the SS men run towards her.
As they run there, I decided to go over to the right.
I was very lucky.
All the people which went to the left-hand side
went to the gas chambers.
And they gassed them and then burned their bodies.
We walked into a place called the sauna,
a brick-built building in Birkenau,
and were told to leave all our clothing on the floor.
I had six photographs of my family.
And that's the last time I had a photograph of my family.
I had my hair shaved off
and from there we went in to the next room and we had our uniforms.
It was big on me, so I put it up.
They didn't give us any bath or shower.
They soon started getting problems with lice.
Lice walked round all over us. Itchy, very itchy.
They live on your skin.
We were a thousand men in a barrack.
Three bunks high, ten people on a bunk.
We slept on the boards.
There was no straw, there was no covers.
People snored, people moaned, people died next to you.
5:30 in the morning, they woke us up
and they allowed us to go to the washroom.
In the washroom there was about five buckets of water.
And you just dipped your hands, washed your eyes and that was it.
I was just skin and bones, because they didn't feed us.
They gave us a small piece of bread in the morning,
with some black coffee made of burnt wheat.
And lunchtime we got some watery soup with a few leaves
swimming round and that's it.
Live on that for months and years, going on,
you're just like a skeleton.
Your mind can't think properly, your body is weak,
you're starving all the time.
You think about food all the time. You can't help but think about it.
In Auschwitz I've been tattooed, I've got a number B7608,
on my left hand.
It's still there now. And I just can't take it off.
I've lost 81 from my family.
I've only found my sister, two years after the war.
How could I say how it changed me?
I'll never forget what I went through.
I suffered so much.
It was the most horrific thing any human being should ever see.
The world should never see that again.
I will never forgive the older generation of Germans, never.
I've nothing to those born after the war.
But I will never, never forgive the Germans, what they did to me
and to other people.
Historically, if you talk about it to people,
to groups and so on, people learn and if anything like that
could come up again, they would stand up against it and so on.
So that's why, basically, I talk about it all the time.
I know myself that I've done quite a bit educating people
and so on and young people, I've educated them.
I told them the history and so on, what I went through.
And the suffering I did go through.
And I never want to see that happen to them.
I'm a very strong-minded person in myself.
And if I want to do something, I usually do it.
And I try everything I can to achieve certain things.
Now, I'm... I'm relaxed.
I'm actually retired.
But I still carry on teaching young people, which is very,
very important to me.
I'll do it until the day somebody calls me to the other side.
Ooh, my Paris was gorgeous.
I lived in the 20th arrondissement.
I loved Paris, being a little girl there was fun.
We used to walk along the Seine and over the bridges.
My mum used to buy me lovely ice cream.
And she used to put me on a carousel ride
and the marionettes in the park!
There was music always playing.
And it was a lovely life. It was a cultured life.
I remember going to a pre-school. I loved going there.
But I didn't go there for very long.
Slowly, slowly, my life changed.
The first thing we couldn't do, we couldn't go out.
You started to hear noises that you hadn't heard before.
It was really scary sometimes.
As I understand it now, we were occupied.
And all the shouting
and the carrying on you could hear outside was soldiers.
The day it happened, it was August and it was hot.
And I was with my father at the window.
And suddenly he said, "They're here."
And we went into the bedroom and my mum pushed me under the bed.
You could hear all these boots on the stairs.
And they banged on the... "Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang."
And we didn't answer the door. We stayed in the bedroom
And then they took an axe and they came in.
Told us, "Raus! Out!"
And they told my parents, "Pack a bag."
During all the commotion, Madame Collomb came in,
she was our next door neighbour.
And she said, "What's my child doing in this apartment?"
She took me by the hand, took me away.
Had they realised what she was doing,
we'd have all been shot on the spot. And she got away with it.
She took me to her apartment and put me
underneath her dining table, with a big chenille tablecloth over it.
Made me a little bed, and I lived there for two or three weeks.
And it was dark, and it was solitary and it was lonely
and I had nightmares there.
I never saw my parents again after that.
And I was a lost, totally lost child.
After that, Madame Collomb took me out at night.
And furtively we had to go to catch a train.
The first hiding place she took me to was Mondoubleau,
which is south-west of Paris.
I couldn't go to school, I couldn't go out on the street,
because there were German soldiers everywhere.
They hid me in a sort of a strange outhouse.
Stayed there two years in hiding.
Then I was taken to the Auvergne, to a farm in the middle of nowhere.
There was no light, no water. You have to be self-sufficient.
You grow up overnight.
I slept occasionally inside the house, but then other times
I went and slept with the goat, because she'd had some kids.
They were warm and they were friendly
and snuffle against your cheek.
During the day, I had to go out and work like a man.
It's hard, in the winter when it's frozen.
My hands were blue and they were cracked and bleeding and sore and
my feet were in the same condition, because I didn't have shoes.
I used to sit down and cry sometimes.
But it didn't do any good, so I stopped that.
Nobody ever said, "Oh, I'll explain what happened to you.
"I will explain what war means. I will explain what happened
"to your parents, that you are never going to see them again.
"I will explain that you are never going back
"to your house in Paris, forget it, it's gone."
The war finished in '45, and I was still in the Auvergne for two years.
We didn't know, we hadn't been told.
I didn't know the war was over, because we didn't have newspapers,
we didn't have a radio, we didn't have electricity.
My war really started when I came to Britain.
I couldn't speak the language. I didn't know who I was.
I was traumatised. Couldn't talk. Didn't want to talk.
They thought I was dumb. I didn't speak.
When I was growing up, I was about 17,
I was going to go and join the army and I was going to go over
and kill them all.
That was my anger. I hated them.
I couldn't bear to hear the German accent.
And it made me very...
and never wanting to go anywhere near those countries
or associate with anything that had to do with Germany for a long time.
I believe that because they're going to keep
the Holocaust Memorial Day in perpetuity, I hope,
and that there are certain places like Yad Vashem and Beth Shalom
who have a memorial to the Shoah, which is the Holocaust.
I do believe that it should be at least remembered.
Yes, I do, I do.
I think it should be taught, you know, in perpetuity.
Because, even if it is not the Holocaust, the other story -
Rwanda, Syria, Yugoslavia - should be told.
They should be kept alive in the memory of people.
They shouldn't be allowed to be forgotten
because that way, things will...
Because we're human, we will forget.
I look at my sons, I look at my grandchildren,
I look at my great grandson, and he's a fabulous little boy,
and I'm just very happy about what I have achieved.
And every day I say, "Thank you," about 10,000 times a day,
Eyewitness accounts from history, brought to life in animation for a young audience.
Elderly survivors recount their childhood experiences of Nazi atrocities, their escape from occupied mainland Europe to Britain, adapting to life in the UK and the impact on their lives subsequently.
Ruth is a five-year-old girl escaping from eastern Germany and from Nazi-occupied Prague. She arrives in England the moment war is declared.
Martin is an eight-year-old boy, expelled from Germany to Poland in the middle of the night by the Nazis, who escapes to England only to experience the worst of the Blitz in Coventry.
Trude is a frightened nine-year-old brought to England without her family on the Kindertransport, who struggles to adapt to life in Britain away from her parents.
Heinz is a 13-year-old boy who witnesses the effects of anti-Jewish laws, Nazi demonstrations and pogroms, and escapes persecution in Germany only to be arrested as an 'enemy alien' in Britain.
Resourceful 14-year-old Arek survives against all odds in appalling conditions in the concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Suzanne, aged six, is violently separated from her parents in Nazi-occupied Paris. Deprived of her family, freedom and education, she is hidden in the countryside and forced to work on a farm.
We also get a chance to meet the real-life survivors today in short, on-camera interviews, which reflect on the effect these experiences have had on their adult lives.