Jan 22 2009 By Frank Hurley
A CITY lady who was saved from the clutches of marauding Nazis 71 years ago has told Glasgow schoolgirls how she escaped.
Mrs Rosa Sacharin, 83, was one of 10,000 Jewish children who were scrambled out of Germany, Austria and eastern bloc countries before Adolf Hitler's sadistic SS police squads murdered hundreds of Jews in an unprecedented pogrom starting on Kristallnact in November 1938.
Courageous humanitarians worked a transport miracle to bring thousands of the terrified and bewildered Jewish children to the UK to avoid indoctrination or worse.
Life under the jackbooted heel of Nazi oppression in school and the flight to freedom were described by Mrs Sacharin to enthralled teenagers at Glasgow's Craigholme School for girls.
She visited Craigholme to speak to S2 and S3 pupils about her life in Germany as World War II was about to erupt across Europe.
Her visit coincided with Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27.
But it was the graphic detail in her story of how Hitler's Nazi regime took control of classrooms across Germany.
Mrs Sacharin explained she was one of the lucky thousands of Jewish children officially brought out of Germany and other European countries under the Kindertransport organisation in 1938 - before Nazis rounded up millions of Jews in deadly concentration camps.
She told how the education system was manipulated by political parties when Hitler came to power with all school pupils taught Nazi songs.
School staff were replaced by Nazi party members and most of the teachers wore the Nazi uniform.
One of her teachers was a member of the feared Schutzstaffel (SS police).
Mrs Sacharin said: "I found life very difficult as a young Jewish girl but I had to cope.
"It affected my very existence. I had kind and understanding adults around me which was a support.
"Of course I was frightened travelling from Berlin on a normal train route to the Hook of Holland and then by ship to Harwich and on to a holiday camp at Dover Bay.
"I was leaving home for a foreign country. I only stayed at Dover for a limited time because more children would be coming from Germany and we all had to find families to stay with.
"It was difficult to find places as people were not all that keen to take in strangers.
"I went with 12 other children like me to Edinburgh and we waited while people selected who they wanted.
"It was like a cattle market. It was alright if you were young, blonde-haired and blue-eyed. But for older children like me it was difficult."
She was eventually taken in by an Edinburgh family and worked as a domestic in the house in between continuing her education.
Years later she met and married a Glasgow man and the couple have two adult daughters and one grandson.
In 1947 she was re-united with her mother who joined her in Scotland. But she never saw her father - arrested in 1935 - ever again.
Pupil Jennifer Smylie,13, from Pollokshields, said: "After listening to Mrs Sacharins accounts it became easier to understand the huge impact the war had on individuals."
Atiqa Javed, 14, of Deaconsbank, said: "Listening to Mrs Sacharin I realised how harsh life in Germany was for Jews during WWII. Her upbringing was totally different from children today."
Abigail Harris, 13, of Newton Mearns, said: "Being Jewish myself, Mrs Sacharins story struck a chord with me. I was amazed how objectively she told her story, with no hatred. It meant a lot to me to meet her and hear first hand about her experience."
Charlotte Dean, 13, of Newlands, said: "I was impressed by how clearly she remembered the details of what had happened. When you hear about the War from someone who has lived through it, it makes it seem more real."