Ruth Barnett

Ruth was born Ruth Michaelis in 1935 in Berlin. In 1939, aged four, Ruth and her seven-year-old brother arrived in Britian on the Kindertransport. Over the next ten years, Ruth and her brother lived with three foster families and in a hostel. She describes the difficlut experiences in her first foster family, Reverend and and Mrs Stead (Merston Rectory, Sittingborn, Kent). She was bed wetting and punished for it by being beaten on her back.  After two years, she was sent to a Quaker Boarding school, where things improved for Ruth. She spent a short time in a hostel in Richmond and was then sent to the family Goodricke in Horsmondon, Kent (1943-1944). They were then moved again to another family, the Hoskins in East Harting, Petersfield, Hampshire. Ruth enjoyed life on a farm and was very happy there.


Ruth's father had escaped to Shanghai and her mother, who was not Jewish, remained in Germany in hiding until 1945. Ruth thinks her mother had taken part in the Rosenstraße protest in Berlin in which around 200 non-Jewish German women who were married to Jewish men demonstrated outside a building where many of their husbands had been interned by the Gestapo.  Ruth does not know much about the experiences of her mother during the war. Her father returned from Shanghai in 1947/48.


In 1949 Ruth was repatriated to Germany against her will on a court order. She could not adjust to life in Germany and felt betrayed by her English foster mother who had let her go back to Germany.  After some time, she came back to the UK to finish her schooling and visited her parents in Germany for the school holidays.  After she finished school, she decided to study dairy management at Reading University (?), where she met her future husband. They settled in London and Ruth worked as a secondary school teacher and then as a psychotherapist.


Ruth has three children and two grand-children. She is an active speaker and author. It is very important for her that the Holocaust is seen in the context of other genocides and that the faith of other groups are not forgotten, such as the Roma and Sinti. In the last part of the interview she talks about the importance of dealing with the past, so that the second and third generation can engage with the past constructively.


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@ Refugee Voices 2019