Ruth Boswell

* 1930

  • “My mother arranged it with the wife of one of our friends who was already in London. She was going there to join him, and she was to pick me up in Prague and take me to London. From what I remember it must have been in the old Wilson Railway Station. I’m shocked by the state it is in now, it is completely neglected, and the old parts have been removed, which is very sad. But anyway, somebody – I don’t know who it was – took me from Brno to Prague. I said good-bye and I went with this lady into the train. She had a first class ticket. When the conductor came, it turned out that my father had bought a third class ticket for me. She didn’t pay extra for me. And so I was taken to the third class carriage. You cannot imagine what the third class carriages looked like in the 1930s. They were awful. They had wooden planks like this, and they were very uncomfortable. I was alone in this third class carriage at night passing through Germany. At one point I fell asleep and when I woke up there was an SS officer sitting against me in the carriage. He talked with me for two or three hours. He must have known I was a Jewish child fleeing from the Nazis. Then he left and I joined this lady again. We eventually got to London.”

  • “My mother was learning English, because she hoped that… I don’t know what had been before I started to notice these things. She must have known that we would have to emigrate. And – do you know Oscar Wild? – I remember that she was reading Oscar Wild’s short stories to me and then translating them into German for me.”

  • “I shared a bedroom with their daughter. The first thing I remember is that it rained during my first night there, and when it rains on the grass in England, it gives a wonderful smell. I don’t know if you can imagine that. I remember it very clearly. I spent the first evening with them, and the next evening they took me to the school together with their daughter and it was the end of the term or half-term or something like that and they had some performance there. I had no idea what was going on but at the end they sang ‘God save the king,’ because they had a king at that time, and when I heard the music I started to cry and I cried every night for the following two months. I was very unhappy.”

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    Praha, 16.10.2014

    délka: 01:26:59
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of 20th Century
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

When writing the book, it was immensely important for me to come back to my life in Czechoslovakia and depict it, and thus it has come full circle

ruth boswell - portret dobovy.jpg (historic)
Ruth Boswell
zdroj: archiv pamětnice, autor Brian Shuel

  Ruth Boswell, née Neubauerová, was born in Graz in Austria in 1930. Her parents moved to Brno soon after. Her father Wilhelm Neubauer worked in an insurance company, he was a member of the council for German theatre and he strongly supported the German cause, while his wife Regina and their daughter were inclined towards the Czech culture. The Neubauers were of Jewish origin, but they did not observe the religion at all. They lived in a German speaking middle-class society, where leftist tendencies often prevailed. In November 1938 Regina Boswell went to London to visit her cousin Fanny, who was involved in the Women International Zionist Association (WIZA). Regardless of the warning, she returned to Czechoslovakia. In March 1938 her parents arranged for Ruth‘s rescue through WIZA and they sent her to London, where she arrived March 14, 1939, one day before the occupation of Czechoslovakia. Wilhelm Neubauer fled to England in summer 1939. His wife Regina was interned in Terezín and there is no other information about her after she was assigned to the transport on January 15, 1942. Ruth Boswell cherishes her memories of the five years she spent in the boarding school Springfield Grange School. In 1950 she met Charles Abel while she was studying English literature in London. They married soon after and they had three children. From 1967 she lived with her second husband, painter James Boswell. She was a successful producer of BBC film and television projects and she established the publishing house Muswell Press. Her autobiographical novel A Faraway Country was published in 2014.