Ruth Kessler remembers every detail about the last time she saw her mother and 9-year-old sister, even though it happened in 1939.
Her family was sending her on a Kindertransport train from Nazi-occupied Vienna to safety in London.
“I was 5 years old,” the Margate resident said. “I said, ‘Will I see you soon?’ and they were crying. They said, ‘I hope so.’ ”
Ruth’s mother, Charlotte Fisch, and sister Erika died in Opole, Poland. Her father Henry Fisch survived.
Her life story is like the film “Sophie’s Choice,” said her husband, Lou Kessler. Her Jewish parents could send only one of their two children to safety, and they sent their younger daughter, he said.
Ruth lived with a Jewish family in London for a few years, then was sent to a group home in the North of England to escape the bombing.
“In London, I carried a gas mask every day to school,” Ruth said. Friends who lived across the street were killed when German bombers leveled their homes.
After the war, Ruth was reunited with her father in the United States, but he couldn’t support her. From age 12 to 18, she lived in several foster homes and then with an aunt and uncle. She married Lou at 18, she said.
Kessler is this year’s speaker at the Yom Hashoah Holocaust memorial service at Ventnor’s Congregation Beth Judah.
Kindertransport saved about 10,000 children in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, from December 1938 to September 1939. It was started in response to the Kristallnacht Pogrom of November 1938, in which Nazis violently attacked Jews.
Women’s stamp winners
First place in the Ocean County Women’s History Stamp contest went to seventh-grader Kimberly Gotthold, of Stafford Township; and third place to eighth-grader Gabriella Navantieri, also of Stafford. Both are students at Southern Regional Middle School.
The annual contest is sponsored by the Ocean County Advisory Commission on the Status of Women.
Ron Fisher, of Ron’s Gardens in Hammonton, won the Tony Russo Farmers Marketing Award from The New Jersey Agricultural Society last month, at the New Jersey State Agricultural Convention in Atlantic City.
Fisher is a first-generation farmer who started out growing mums and now runs a garden center and produce market.
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