"Anyone can go to the Holocaust museum [in Washington DC] but not everyone gets this experience." ~A. Speitel (student, 17)
You can download and easily print Ruthie's biography here (pdf)
Ruthie Kessler was born in Vienna, Austria in 1933. She lived with her older sister and her parents. In 1939 her parents were forced to choose whether she or her sister would escape to Great Britain as part of the Kindertransport, a rescue operation that saved 10,000 children from Nazi terror. Ruthie was chosen.
In May, six-year-old Ruthie waved goodbye to her family at the train depot. With tears in her eyes, she shouted to them, “Will I see you soon”?
Ruthie traveled by train across the Europe and then boarded a ship. Bewildered, confused, and with nothing but what she wore, Ruthie set sail for Liverpool, England. During the war, Ruthie lived with a foster family in London. To avoid the German air raids, she was sent to a hostel at the northern tip of England, for safety.
While Ruthie escaped to Great Britain, her father fled to the United States with the only authorized visa for the family. He intended to obtain additional visas for Ruthie’s mother and sister, but the American Consulate failed to produce the promised visas, even after her father had met the many bureaucratic demands. Meanwhile, Ruthie’s mother and sister escaped to Poland, where the family of their former maid provided them with a place to hide.
After the war, Ruthie came to the United States at her father’s request. By the time she was 16, she had lived in five foster homes and attended 15 schools. She eventually settled in with her uncle and aunt in Philadelphia, where she completed her education. Ruthie and her husband, Lou, have three children and four grandchildren.