History KS3 / GCSE: Ruth's Story - Escaping the Nazis as war broke out

As a child, Ruth Rogoff escaped from Germany and arrived in Britain on the day that war started - 3 September 1939.

In this short film, she relates her childhood experiences and talks of her mother’s remarkable courage.

She begins by explaining how the German occupation of the Sudetenland led to her family fleeing Germany to the relative safety of Prague, Czechoslovakia.

She goes on to explain how Hitler’s annexation of Czechoslovakia and move into Prague in March 1939 led to her family being in danger once again.

Her father was a wanted man and escaped over the border, leaving Ruth, her brother and mother to fend for themselves.

Like many of the 56,000 Jews in Prague under Nazi occupation, Ruth recounts how her mother went from embassy to embassy, seeking a way to leave. When she was told she could only leave without her children, she refused.

Finally, a ‘miracle’ clerk from the British embassy, breaking the night curfew, brought the family papers to travel to the UK – but they could take nothing with them and had to make it look as though they were only going on a day trip.

PLEASE NOTE: This short film contains disturbing scenes. Teacher review is recommended prior to use in class.

Teacher Notes

This short film could be used as an introduction to the start of the Second World War and lessons on home front Britain. How did job, roles and lives change?

Explore the evacuation of children and the role and contribution that foreigners brought to the British war effort.

Curriculum Notes

This topic appears in history at KS3 and KS4 / GCSE in AQA, OCR A, OCR B, EDEXCEL, EDUQAS and WJEC GCSE in England and Wales,and CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland.

It is also on the curriculum for 2nd, 3rd and 4th Level, National 4 and 5, and Higher in Scotland. It also appears in PSHE and PDE at KS3 and KS4.

More from Children of the Holocaust

Interview with Holocaust survivor Ruth Rogoff
Arek’s Story - Survival in Auschwitz-Birkena
Interview with Holocaust survivor Arek Hersh
Heinz’s Story - Kristallnacht and escape to Britain
Interview with Holocaust survivor Heinz Skyte
Martin's Story - Interrupted childhood experiences of a young Holocaust survivor
Interview with Holocaust survivor Martin Kapel
Trude’s Story - Escaping from Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia
Interview with Holocaust survivor Trude Silman
Suzanne’s Story - Hiding from the Nazis in occupied France
Interview with Holocaust survivor Suzanne Ripton