World War II evacuee shares her childhood memories with U15

  • 01. November 2017
  • Autor: Students of U15

As part of their English language curriculum, U15 are reading the novel Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian about a young boy who is evacuated from London during WWII. The following text is a compilation of statements made by the students of U15:

On 26th September 2017, Mrs Janette Bider came and gave a talk, in front of our class, about WWII. Mrs Bider is an elderly British woman who lived in London at the time:

Imagine a life full of fear, strange people and constant bombing, Mrs Bider knows what it is like to live under these circumstances. At the age of three, in 1939, the war broke out and she and her brother were evacuated, because the people feared that the Germans would bomb London. She had to endure the traumatizing relocation from her home to her new (temporary) residence in the countryside. To find a good home for each child was probably not easy and the frightened children were not easy to handle. In contrast to Willie in the novel Goodnight Mister Tom, Mrs Bider had a brother with whom she could share some of her sorrows. Her parents were heart-broken seeing their children leave, not knowing if they would ever meet again. That surely must have been a horrible feeling. Mrs Bider was so frightened and scared that she wet her bed every night.

First, she was placed with a very religious couple on a farm. They had to sit still for hours every Sunday. She and her brother returned briefly to London but when a bomb went off in a park, nearly killing the whole family, they were then sent to stay with family in Devon. These were happier times. Mrs Bider played with animals and made many friends.

When the war ended, she and her brother returned to London six years later. Her parents were overwhelmed by these grown up children and didn’t know how to deal with them. Mrs Bider also had to get to know her parents again, but her relationship with her brother has remained strong until this day.

I thought it was nice and cool that Mrs Bider came to FGZ to talk to us and even answer our questions, questions that were emotional. I liked the way how open she was to every question. Reflecting back on this lesson, I was surprised how much she remembered and how she could talk about her feelings. These things can happen! I feel that it’s really important for kids to learn about the past and its affects, and I would really like to say thank you again, Mrs Bider, for coming.