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Berlin to London
- An Emotional History of Two Refugees
- Narrated by: Esther Saraga
- Length: 11 hrs and 10 mins
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Here the emotional journeys of two German Jewish refugees are reconstructed from a substantial collection of family material, archives and secondary historical sources, which are used imaginatively to explore and illuminate a wider history. The letters evoke how it felt at the time to be a refugee and express eloquently the distress and losses involved in exile, separation and internment, providing intense dynamic snapshots of how they managed their emotions from day to day. The author shows the complex interrelationship between personal lives and social/historical events. She adopts an innovative, reflexive approach, exploring her complex relationship to the papers as daughter, researcher and academic. This adds an invaluable emotional dimension missing from most general histories of this period.
Their experiences are set in historical context, shedding light on life in Nazi Germany, the difficulties of getting out and into the UK, and on British attitudes and policies towards refugees. Their contradictory experiences of welcome and restriction challenge simple views of Britain's liberal tradition of welcoming refugees. Long-term effects of being a refugee are also explored, including the emotional consequences of claiming reparations from the post-war German Government. The themes of managing emotions, separation and loss, memory, identity, belonging and home, and coming to terms with the past explored here are relevant to the experiences of more recent migrants and refugees.
This engaging, accessible audiobook is beautifully written, with enormous honesty and power. Fully referenced, it draws on conceptual and theoretical ideas, but the clear style and writing will appeal to the general listener as well as to students and academics.
Esther Saraga has 40 years of experience teaching and researching in higher education, moving from a first degree in mathematics in Cambridge to a PhD in psychology in London, feeling finally at home as a feminist critical social scientist at the Open University. She retired in September 2009 to concentrate on this book project.
"Esther Saraga tells a touching and disturbing story of her parents' emigration from Germany and their lives in Britain during and after the war. She questions whether 'gratitude' to Britain was the emotion most expected of them, and she squirms at memories of herself colluding with the idea that her mother was 'the silly one'. Part autobiographical, part history, this book recreates a forgotten world, full of tensions, harsh realities, but, in the end, a tale of survival and a future." (Rabbi The Baroness Neuberger DBE)
"This is one of the most powerful books you will ever read in what it is to be a refugee. Essential reading for those who want to understand the personal impact of being a forced migrant whether past or present." (Professor Tony Kushner, University of Southampton)