In anticipation of Remembrance Day on November 11th, I’d like to recommend this book, When the World Was Ours by Liz Kessler. (Some of you might know the author from her Tales of Emily Windsnap series). This is a story which highlights the innocent victims of war and it’s a powerful and unsettling read.
The story is set in Vienna, Austria in 1936. It follows the lives of three friends, Leo, Max and Elsa. They spend a perfect day together, unaware of the growing darkness that will soon befall Europe and will lead to the friendship group being torn apart. Their families will leave Austrian and head to Germany, England, Czechoslovakia and Poland.
The book is partially inspired by a true story. In fact, it’s the story of the author’s father and how he came to England with his mother to escape Nazi persecution. One morning, as a child, he woke to find his father had disappeared, leaving only a message to beg that he and his mother leave Austria as soon as possible. The only way they could think this was possible was by contacting an English family who they had met by chance, one day, years earlier and shown them the sites of Vienna. The family had sent them a thank you card including a return address, when they got home to England, and this offered them a tiny glimmer of hope. They wrote to the English family who agreed to sponsor their journey so that they could make a new, safer life for themselves.
After reading this book, this Remembrance Day, during the two minutes reflective silence, I will be thinking about the innocent victims of war, the children who are affected by war and giving thanks to those, past and present, who have enabled others to start new lives, away from danger, in Britain.
For readers of all ages.