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Book reviews

“You had me hooked from the first page and I read the whole book in one afternoon. My whole routine thrown to the wind! But it was worth it.”


“...Having just read your very moving book, ‘Suzie’, I feel I know you and your family just a little. I had heard of the Kindertransport but your story made it come alive for me.”

Hilary Rous


Ann and Mike Levy were invited to give a presentation to Year 7 children at St Nicholas Middle School in Pinvin, near Pershore. Ann spoke movingly about growing up with her ‘new’ sister Suzie. The children were engrossed in her story and queued up after to ask questions.

After the talk (which lasted around 45 minutes), Ann and Mike were invited to observe the follow up lessons going on in the school (some of which were inspired by Suzie’s story and other material provided by Mike. The children were clearly very well motivated and excited to hear Ann and see her in person – especially after some of them had read her book, ‘The Little Girl Who Changed our Lives’.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The school under the inspirational guidance of teacher Bex Chatterton, has been following a complete unit of  study on the Holocaust. Ann’s visit was the culmination of their work and by all accounts, a very successful one.

Here is what the teacher wrote for the children in anticipation of Ann’s talk:

Today you will hear a true story about the Holocaust, the Second World War and beyond.  History is about the big things in the world: wars, kings and queens, dictators and prime ministers; but it also about the lives of ordinary people. Sometimes the best way into a history topic is through a personal story of ordinary people.

Today’s speaker is Ann Chadwick. Ann was born just before World War Two and was a very small child as the war went on. She was born into a pretty ordinary English family in the city of Cambridge. Her dad was a teacher at secondary school and her mum taught in primary schools. They lived in a normal house and Ann was their first child.

Though they were an ordinary churchgoing family (they were Church of England), they lived in very extraordinary times and did an equally extraordinary thing; they opened their home to a complete stranger: a small Jewish child who had escaped almost certain death in Nazi-occupied Prague (now the capital of the Czech Republic).

The child was called Suzie Spitzer. At the age of only 5, she arrived on the kindertransport which you have already learned about. She came without her parents on a rescue train organized by Sir Nicholas Winton. Suzie left Prague station on a train full of Jewish children travelling without their mums and dads, travelling to safety in Britain. Had they stayed in Germany, Austria, Poland or the Czech lands, they would almost certainly have been murdered by the Nazis.

Suzie’s train travelled across Europe: Czech lands, Germany (where terrifying Nazi guards often came on board to check documents, search suitcases and frighten the children). The train went on to Holland where the local people offered the tired, hungry and sometimes frightened children food and hot chocolate. Then the train would have gone on to the port  - usually the Hook of Holland. Then it was an often rough sea voyage to England.  Most of the children in those days had never been out of their countries, and never seen the sea.

Suzie’s ship would have docked in the port of Harwich (Essex) and there they boarded another train to London Liverpool Street. Like most kindertransport children, a foster home had already been found and Suzie caught another train to Cambridge. So at the age of only 5,  little Suzie, arrived in Cambridge to start a new life with Mr. and Mrs. Chadwick and their little 2 year-old daughter, Ann.

Ann became the ‘new’ sister for Suzie and grew up with her. Today, Ann Chadwick will tell Suzie’s story and what it was like to grow up with a Jewish refugee ‘sister’.  Ann will tell you what happened to Suzie’s parents and what happened to Suzie.

In a nutshell: Suzie stayed with the Chadwicks through the war and up until 1950. Then she sailed all the way to Argentina and the capital city of Buenos Aires. You will hear why she did this in Ann’s talk.

Later in life, Suzie went to join the Chadwick family in the Pacific island of Fiji; she also worked as a nurse in Canada.

Did she see her natural parents again? What happened to Suzie? Ann will tell you.