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The English German Girl

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The English German Girl, Jake Wallis Simons, book reviewAnxious to avoid being accused of “bumming a ride on the back of the Holocaust” as he describes it, Jake Wallis Simons, author of “The English German Girl”, writes from the point of view of Rosa Klein who, at the age of fifteen, leaves Berlin on a train bound for England in the hope that, once there, she can find an escape route for the rest of her family. It’s an interesting viewpoint because the subject of the ‘Kindertransports’ is one that’s rarely encountered in fiction, in spite of there being so much literature around the Second World War and the fate of the Jews.

We meet the Klein family in the mid 1930s: father Otto is a successful surgeon who, as the book opens, is summoned to his superior at the hospital to learn that from now on he’ll only be allowed to carry out clerical work. One Saturday morning when Rosa goes alone out to buy pastries for breakfast the assistant in the baker’s shop gives her a pin brooch, a curious thing, with crooked angry looking arms; when her parents see what she’s clutching they tell her she mustn’t go out alone any more.

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