Ruth Barnett moved from Germany to England in 1939 as part of the Kindertransport – the British-sponsored effort which permitted some children to escape Germany and the dangers of imminent war. She did not see her parents again for 10 years, by which time it was impossible for the family to reconnect psychologically and emotionally. Moreover, Ruth was not able to tolerate the idea of living in the Germany of the time: she had come to believe British wartime propaganda surrounding it, and meanwhile had become comfortable living in England.
Ruth grew up in three foster families and a hostel. The third family she was with lived on a farm; there she became blissfully happy working with animals. She rode, raised pigs, and trained young horses for the saddle. But she found people somewhat more difficult to work with, and in fact still wonders why people won’t take to an individual as easily as do animals, creatures that accept people for what they are.
Some years later, at university, Ruth found Bernard, a charming fellow who became her boyfriend and whom she subsequently married. They have three children and two grandchildren.
Along the way, Ruth has had two careers: the first as a secondary school teacher, the second as a psychotherapist. Through all, she has been a writer, moving from schooldays articles penned for magazines, to six published books preceding this one.
At the 50th anniversary Kindertransport reunion – and age 54 – Ruth realised she was strong enough to face the past; she thus began to sort out her muddled identity and reclaim her German roots. She did this by studying history, presenting testimony, and delivering Holocaust-education talks – more than 950 of them over the next 30 years. For this extraordinary effort, Ruth was awarded a Member of the British Empire (MBE) designation for her “services to Holocaust education.”
With the interest, encouragement, and help of her husband and three children (Bruce, Barry and Tania), Ruth has written books which challenge readers to think more deeply about the issues of discrimination and genocide, and move from being passive bystanders to active up-standers. She sees the human race as one great organism, each of us but a single one of its cells.
Ruth argues that no human being really owns any part of our Earth, thus supporting the idea that no one is really illegitimate or illegal. Reminding us that we are all temporary tenants for “three score years and ten,” that we brought nothing into the world when we arrived and will take nothing with us when we leave, she ponders why, when looking within, so many people choose nurturing their demons over celebrating their angels.