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The Toby Gribben Show

Vivien Sieber

Season 2023, Ep. 37

Vivien Sieber is an acclaimed author whose poignant work delves into the depths of human resilience in the face of unimaginable adversity. Through her book "Kino and Kinder," she illuminates the harrowing journey of a European Jewish family grappling with the horrors of Nazi antisemitism and the Holocaust. With a narrative woven from the lives and writings of survivors, enriched by over eighty historic photographs, Sieber brings to light the indomitable spirit of those who faced the darkest chapters of history.


The tale begins in 1915 when Paula's family purchased a cinema in Vienna, marking the genesis of a successful venture amidst a thriving cultural backdrop. However, as the spectre of antisemitism loomed larger with the ascent of the Nazi Party, the once-flourishing Palast Kino was cruelly confiscated, symbolizing the tightening grip of oppression.


Faced with the escalating threat of Hitler's regime, Paula made the heart-wrenching decision to send her son to safety in England before embarking on her own journey as a penniless refugee. Amidst the backdrop of World War II, Paula found solace in serving as a matron at hostels in Tynemouth and Windermere, tending to the needs of girls evacuated from Europe through the Kindertransport—a beacon of hope in a world engulfed by darkness.


Sieber's narrative is interwoven with the poignant recollections of these young girls, whose accounts paint a vivid tableau of the trials they endured—from the insidious spread of antisemitism to the anguish of separation from their families, the adjustment to hostel life, and the enduring trauma of survival amidst the loss of loved ones.


Through meticulous research and compelling storytelling, "Kino and Kinder" offers a window into the experiences of a Jewish family fleeing the atrocities of the Holocaust. With vivid eyewitness details spanning Vienna, wartime Britain, and post-war London, Sieber crafts a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring legacy of those who emerged from the shadows of history.

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