It was late winter in 1935, when the young Jewish girl gave birth to her baby girl, in the German town of Kitzigen. The child’s father, a soldier who decided that being the father of a Jewish child would not help his progression through the ranks of Hitler’s army, deserted her. Her family was not critical of her; instead, they showed understanding and supported her through the pregnancy. She named the child, Ruth. Ruth’s grandfather ran a successful civil engineering company that dealt with the British manufacturer, Sir William Bromfield. Sir William spent most of his time visiting German enterprises that dealt with his engineering supply companies. Their business relationship had developed into a genuine friendship.
For Jews, life became unbearable in Germany as it became the practice for any senior German Officer to just take whatever Jewish belongings they wanted. The ‘brownshirts’ were even worse. Claiming to be patriots, they were nothing but organised hooligans and thugs with no respect for human life or belongings, especially if Jewish. The government followed Hitler’s ranting that all of Germany’s troubles had been brought about by the Jews and now, payback time!
When they seized Ruth’s grandfather’s house, the family had nowhere to live so he moved them to nearby Frankfurt, some 130 kilometres away. Their British friend, Sir William, helped them as he seemed to have influence because he found rooms for them in Frankfurt. Ruth’s mother never knew what he did for a living, but Sir William travelled a lot, and she overheard him and her father mentioning his brother in England. His brother was a Church of England minister in a country town about three hours north of London.
By early 1938 the situation became unbearable for the Jewish community. Besides the constant harassment and beatings, many were arrested and thrown into prison for not showing allegiance to the Nazi party. Also, it was now impossible for them to leave Germany. Ruth’s grandfather suffered many beatings, and her grandmother became a nervous wreck. They had not been able to go to a synagogue for over six months, and the grandfather feared for Ruth and her mother.
One day a fight developed just outside the building they lived in, and the police arrested Ruth’s grandfather. Shortly after his release from the police, the Gestapo came and arrested him, and they never saw him again. Ruth’s grandmother pleaded with Sir William to help. He tried to find some information, but as he began to attract attention to himself, he stopped his inquiries. Realising that she would never be with her husband and unable to bear the pain, Ruth’s grandmother climbed to the top of the five-storey building and jumped.
Ruth’s mother was distraught. She had now lost both parents whom she loved, and she held fears for Ruth’s safety. She contacted William and pleaded for help and advice. He told her about the ‘Kinder transport’ movement being set up by the Jewish and Quaker communities in England, which rescued Jewish children.
The laws had been changed to allow unaccompanied Jewish children to enter England, provided they had a sponsor who would care for them. If Ruth’s mother surrendered Ruth, it would mean she would see Ruth again until after the war. After several excruciating days, she asked Sir William to find out what arrangements he could make.
Sir William took only two days before he returned with an answer. His brother, John Bromfield, would accept the responsibility for raising Ruth until they were reunited after the war.
Although a minister in the Church of England, John Bromfield promised that Ruth would learn about the Jewish faith during her upbringing. If she accepted the offer, John would meet them at Frankfurt railway station the following Friday. He would not be allowed to leave the train, and she would have to place Ruth on the steps of the train where John would take her. John should be able to talk to her through the window before the train left for Holland and the channel crossing. She agreed to this arrangement.
However, this arrangement tormented her over the next few days. What if she never saw Ruth again? Is it best she should be brought up by strangers than risk the horrors the Nazi regime seemed to pose?
Ruth’s mother was troubled further by a big question. How did William arrange everything so fast? William told her that when he was in England last, his brother told him that
“On 15 November 1938, five days after the devastation of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, in Germany and Austria, a delegation of British Jewish and Quaker leaders appealed in person to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Neville Chamberlain. Among other measures, they requested that the British government allows the temporary admission of unaccompanied Jewish children, without their parents,"
John indicated to Sir William that he would consider accepting one of these children into his family.
When Ruth’s mother told Sir William to make arrangements he got a message to his brother, John, and the reply came back. Sir William then told her he had contacts within the English defence community. What he did not tell her was that he was in effect an undercover intelligence agent.
Early that Friday morning Ruth’s mother packed a small bag of clothes along with a little amount of food for Ruth’s journey. Ruth thought that she was going on a train with a nice man for a long holiday and one day soon, mummy would join her. Sir William walked to the station with them. He was particularly on edge that morning and kept looking over his shoulder. Ruth had her identification card with a ribbon around her neck and seemed happy like any three-year-old would be, going on a holiday.
As there were many parents there to say goodbye to their children, the station platform was crowded. Most realised it would be the last time they would be with their children, and yet they held out hope for the future. A larger than usual contingent of soldiers on the station worried no one.
A cold chill came over the whole platform as the train pulled into the station and almost at once the engine detached while another hitched at the other end. Sir William sighted John at the open carriage window and then with Ruth and her mother approached the window
In a brief conversation, John reassured Ruth’s mother that he and his wife, Madeline, would take good care of Ruth. He also told her he would make arrangements for a Rabbi to help with her education. Ruth’s mother finally felt relieved that Ruth would be taken care of by good and understanding people. Sir William had previously told John about Ruth’s family, so he was aware of the trauma she may have experienced.
Two soldiers stood at each of the carriage steps and checked the identification of the children before they boarded the train. Two additional soldiers were on each set of steps with their rifles at the ready in case any of the adults tried to board the train or, any of the passengers attempted to leave the train. John took Ruth into his arms, and they returned to his seat so Ruth would be able to wave goodbye to her mother.
The soldiers kept a three-metre gap between the parents and the train, but they could still talk to each other, but not touch.
As the train departed, three Gestapo officers grabbed hold of Sir William. John saw this in horror from the carriage and was even more horrified when Sir William broke free, and the Gestapo men shot him. If that was not distressing enough when Ruth’s mother leaned over William, they shot her through the head, and he heard them laugh and call out, “Die, Jewish whore!”
A new life begins
John was grateful Ruth had been distracted and did not see her mother murdered. Ruth noticed John muttering almost silently with tears in his eyes and making the sign of the cross. He hid his grief for Ruth’s sake.
The journey to Rotterdam became the first chance for John to get to know Ruth. He was grateful William taught Ruth some rudimentary English even though while at school he had learnt a practical knowledge of the German language. He thought she should know him as “Uncle John,” and he would introduce Madeline as “Aunt Madeline.” It was a slow journey and relatively quiet until they reached the border crossing near Het Kwartier. The Dutch border police were very civil while the Germans extensively examined the documents of every passenger. They seemed to glare with disgust at every child.
John was glad they did not search his bags as he had documents that included Ruth’s birth certificate, along with that of her mother and grandparents. Amongst the other documents was a declaration William had smuggled into Germany that would give John and Madeline the authority to act as Ruth’s guardian. Ruth’s mother had signed this and had it witnessed by a well-respected Rabbi in Frankfurt. Ruth wore a German Identity card around her neck, endorsed for one-way travel out of Germany.
When they arrived in the port of Rotterdam, the Dutch Quaker community organised tables full of hot food. John saw this as another example of good organisation in place.
The ship taking them to Folkestone in England was an old ship. A British member of the Jewish community had paid for the charter out of his own pocket.
Ruth slept on the boat, and when they arrived in England, Madeline was waiting at the dock for them. The immigration official, realising the trauma the children had experienced, looked only briefly at each child’s identification before stamping it and letting them into England. Their only concern was that appropriate responsible people were on hand to care for them. Ruth and the Bromfields boarded the train for the two hours journey to London, where they had a three-hour wait for their train to Millbrook.
It had been an unusually long day, and three-year-old Ruth was completely worn out. Even the excitement of a new home with a bedroom all to herself was not enough to keep her awake. John and Madeline looked at her asleep in bed, then knelt down and prayed that Ruth would not have to witness any more horror.
The next morning, Ruth woke to a brand new world. From her room, she saw daylight, and she heard birds chirping outside her window. She slept in a room all by herself for the first time in her life, and it was a beautiful place. A vase of flowers on it in the corner and the chair in the other corner sat a huge teddy bear. The door open and in came Aunt Madeline. “Goog morgen darling,” she said, “Haben Sie eine gute sleep?” Ruth laughed at the strange accent and replied in English, “Yes, thank you, I slept well.” Madeline knew at once that language would not be a problem.
She took Ruth to the bathroom and after washing her and cleaning her teeth, they went down to the kitchen. John was sitting down with his bowl of porridge, and he said to her, “Sie sehen schön Heute morgen.” She laughed and replied. “Mummy said that I must always try to speak English now, and I must learn twenty more words every day.” John smiled and replied, “Well, from now on it will be English only.”
Madeline put a bowl of porridge with a glass of juice in front of her, and Ruth replied. “Danke schön–er thank you.” They all laughed.
After breakfast, Madeline suggested that she take Ruth into nearby Bedford and go shopping for a new wardrobe for Ruth. Her mother had tried to look after her, but, new children’s clothing along with toys were luxuries in Germany. It had been hard enough to gather food. The only toy Ruth owned was the shabby rag doll that she carried with her. She did, however, have two dresses, a coat, and a pair of gloves. She also had the shoes she wore and three sets of warm underwear.
Madeline dressed Ruth, and they walked to the bus stop and caught the bus into Bedford. Ruth remembered in later years' how people were all smiling and laughing. Frankfurt people never smiled!
Ruth liked Aunt Madeline and clung close to her with her hand held tight. Madeline loved the feeling as well. When they went into any shop, Madeline asked her every time what she thought of each item. At first, Ruth said she loved everything. Madeline realised that although she was only three years old, Ruth had been taught to appreciate every gift and not to “turn her nose up” at anything she didn’t particularly like.
Madeline took her out and into a cake shop. She told Ruth to choose the cake she would like to eat. Ruth walked up and down the row of cupcakes many times. Madeline saw the smile she gave towards the cakes and the frown towards others. When Ruth finally made her choice, they sat at the table and Madeline ordered it along with tea for herself and a fizzy drink for Ruth.
Madeline then explained to Ruth that just like the cakes, she must choose the dress and shoes she liked best. Ruth could have four dresses and two pairs of shoes. She could also have two pairs of slacks and some singlets and underpants. She could also have a swimsuit. Ruth would choose carefully, and Madeline was grateful that Ruth was now beginning to show her individuality.
Although English was not Ruth’s natural language she chatted endlessly, and although she had a broad accent, Madeline understood most of what she said. After a morning’s shopping, they were heading back to the bus when Ruth saw all the dolls in the window of a toy shop. She said nothing, but she stopped and smiled as her eyes browsed all over the window display. Madeline smiled and said to her, “Uncle John may get mad at me, but you should have one new doll.” Ruth jumped for joy and said “Danke! Can I have that one please?” She pointed to a small doll in the corner. Madeline bought it and all the way to the bus stop Ruth held it tight. Madeline thought it was probably the first new toy she ever had.
When they arrived back at the vicarage, Ruth ran inside with the parcels and shouted, “Uncle John! Look what Aunt Madeline bought for me. Clothes! Dresses! Shoes! Gloves! A doll! Underpants! All for me! I am so lucky Uncle John, to be living here with you and Aunt Madeline.”
John smiled and winked at Madeline. The joy this little girl was bringing into their life overshadowed the events that developed overseas,
While they had been shopping John made arrangements for the Rabbi from Cambridge to visit them the following week. As there was no synagogue in Bedford, the Rabbi who was based in Cambridge, made regular visits and said that he would call on John during his stay.
John also had called his Bishop. He needed to be clear on the direction he planned to take on Ruth’s upbringing. With both the Bishop’s and the Rabbi’s blessings, John thought that Ruth should be baptised as soon as possible and attend Sunday school. At the same time, she should spend a part of Saturday with a Jewish family and occasionally join them on Friday evening for “Shabbat-dinner”.
It was decided that it would be nice although not essential if John and Madeline both accompanied her. Then when Ruth approached the age of twelve, she should be prepared for her “Bat Mitzvah” When Ruth became thirteen, she should be allowed to take her confirmation into the Church of England, if she wanted to.
If the Bishop and the Rabbi agreed, this ensured that Ruth has a spiritual upbringing, exposed to both faiths.
On taking her Bat Mitzvah when twelve, Jewish traditions are such, that she would then assume responsibility for her faith and morals. She would be able to be confirmed if she wanted to.
The next morning, after breakfast, Madeline took Ruth for a walk around the church grounds and the church. She explained to Ruth that she could play anywhere on the grounds, but not to go out of the gate, without a grown up!
The church itself fascinated her. Ruth loved playing outside, and she took three days before she had explored the entire grounds. Madeline made it appear that she was by herself, but, while she played outside, Madeline watched her like a hawk from the rectory windows.
Their first Sunday was significant, and yet Ruth went about things as normal. She woke up, went to the bathroom, cleaned her teeth and dressed for breakfast. All by herself! Ruth loved choosing what clothes to wear, especially as they always smelled nice and clean.
After breakfast, she heard the church bell for the first time. Madeline explained to her that John was the priest of the Village and on Sunday mornings people came to pray and learn about God in the church. John helped them pray and learn.
Ruth’s eyes widened, and she asked if she could learn to pray as well. Madeline laughed and told her, “of course you can.”
As they walked over to the church, Ruth saw many people going in. She noticed some children as well. They sat in the middle of the church, and most of the ladies waved to Madeline and smiled at Ruth. Ruth thought this was exciting. Whenever she was in a crowd in Germany, everyone was frowning and looking around. In this place, no one frowned, and everyone smiled.
Suddenly everyone stood! Then a voice from the rear of the church spoke. Immediately the church filled with music. She didn’t know it at the time, but that was the organ starting. Then everyone started singing, real loud! Ruth looked around (Madeline had sat her at the end of the pew so she could see everything). Some people were walking in from the door, holding books and singing.
She saw Uncle John immediately after the man holding a wooden cross high. She tried running to him, but Madeline held her hand tight. After that, she did not take her eyes off him for the whole service.
Near the end of the service, everyone walked to the front where Uncle John and two other people stood.
Everyone knelt down, and Uncle John gave them something to eat, and the other two people gave them something to drink from a shiny glass. She knelt next to Aunt Madeline, and when Uncle John came in front of them, he gave Aunt Madeline a piece of the bread (it was a tiny bit). He then put his hands on Ruth’s head. Ruth didn’t know what it meant but was sure it must have been significant.
Finally, during what was to be the last song, the people who were with Uncle John, started walking out of the church while Uncle John followed. All the other people moved and followed them. When they came to the door, Uncle John stood there shaking everyone’s hand and talking to them. Madeline held her hand tight as she spoke to the other women outside the church.
A couple of the ladies asked Ruth her name. Then a small boy came up to her and said. “Little girl, can you play with me sometimes?” she looked up at Madeline, who then said. “Of course, you can”. Ruth turned to the boy and said, “My name is Ruth, what is yours?” Ruth had made her first English friend.
The Bishop called on John the following Wednesday. After the pleasantries, John outlined to him the plans he had for raising Ruth and that he had hoped to gain the Bishop’s approval.
The Bishop agreed with his motivation but said that he had reservations about a priest of the Church of England, raising a child as a member of the Jewish faith. John pointed out to him that he thought the protection of the child was his first responsibility as well as the promises he had made to her mother.
The Bishop pondered for a while, then he advised John. “If we baptised the child, her soul would be safe. If she were exposed to the Jewish faith and eventually took her Bat Mitzvah, it would not be a sign of rejection of Christ, as Jesus was a member of the Jewish faith. When a Jew turns to Christ, he is not asked to reject Moses’ teachings.”
“Although I still have grave reservations about your plan, I cannot fault it spiritually. I question the possible confusion for the child and the reaction of your peers and congregation.”
John replied that as long as there was no hiding the reasons for this journey, his peers being kind and loving Christians, would accept this. If he and Madeline adopted Ruth after the appropriate waiting time, and he addressed the congregation, he felt it would be a living example of Christian love. The Bishop agreed and suggested that after John met with the Rabbi, a meeting should be arranged between the three of them and an unofficial memorandum of understanding be drawn up. John agreed.
The meeting with the Rabbi the next day went even better. The Rabbi liked the approach that John proposed and did not find fault with it. He appreciated that John had taken Ruth in, and he agreed with her being baptised. If John were to be her father as a child, she should be raised in a Christian family. Exposing her to the faith of her mother and grandparents was the right thing. After Ruth’s Bat Mitzvah, she should be free to accept either faith or both.
The Rabbi thought he knew of a local Jewish family, the Goldberg’s, who would be glad to have John, his wife and Ruth join them sometimes for their Shabbat-dinner and other Jewish festivals. John thought to himself how lucky Ruth would be, to be able to share a Passover meal each Easter.
The Bishop and the Rabbi joined John, Madeline and Ruth the next week, then formulated the private memorandum of understanding. In a surprising move, the Rabbi asked the Bishop if he could attend Ruth’s baptism. The Bishop agreed and asked could he attend her Bat Mitzvah. They then all prayed for guidance and asked for God’s blessing on this unusual arrangement.
They arranged for Ruth’s baptism to take place in a month’s time. John advised his congregation of the agreement and announced that Rabbi Jacobs would be present. The Bishop would perform the ceremony. This way the congregation would know the Bishop’s approval and the Rabbi’s acceptance. They also would invite the Goldbergs, the Jewish family who would be sharing the Shabbat-dinner.
In less than three weeks of Ruth’s arrival in Milford, she had developed a small circle of friends. They were mainly children of John’s parishioners, but through Madeline’s sewing club, Ruth was also exposed to other kids. Madeline also allowed Ruth to play with other children in their homes. Her English was becoming perfect, and she rarely used German words. Her best friend was Jody, whose Dad was in the army.
John spoke to Charles Wilson, a solicitor and a member of his congregation, about the process to adopt Ruth and whether she would need to be naturalised. Charles advised him that some obstacles existed as there was no evidence of Ruth’s mother’s death.
The solicitor then made enquiries, and he advised them on the direction to take. It would possibly take six months to sort out. It seemed that after studying the rules, Ruth would need to be declared “abandoned” and made a Ward of the State. John and Madeline could then adopt her. All the preliminaries would need to be in place and all relevant declarations in the hands of the court. At the court hearing, there would be three separate rulings. Ruth would be declared abandoned. Then the court would appoint her a Ward of the State, followed by the granting of John and Mary’s adoption of her. All three rulings would take place in the same court and immediately follow the previous hearing. English law could be cumbersome, but with correct steering, the desired outcome could be achieved.
When John first addressed his congregation, he saw the confusion on the faces of some of them. They all praised and supported John for taking Ruth in and saving her from certain death, but some were confused about the “duel religion” situation. Madeline listened to their reaction and told John later. The one comment that amused both of them was that one woman had been overheard saying, “Being a Jew is not as bad as being a bloody Catholic!”
John brought them all around by ensuring all the readings over the next few weeks mentioned that Jesus came from a Jewish Family, and all the early disciples were Jews. The most convincing readings came from the Gospel where Jesus prayed in the synagogue. He drove this home further with Paul’s letter to the Hebrews.
On the day of Ruth’s Baptism, Madeline prepared a celebration feast. She was careful not to have any food that could be objectionable to the Rabbi and other Jews present. Madeline was already aware of the need to avoid ham and bacon from the day Ruth first arrived.
They had asked two members of the Parish Council to be Ruth’s God Parents. They did not expect many to attend the Baptism, but they did expect the Goldberg’s to be there.
John decided that he would not be wearing his robes as the Bishop would conduct the service. Ruth wore a new dress that Madeline had been saving for the occasion, and Madeline asked one of her friends to take photos with her Brownie box camera.
When they entered the church, they felt honoured to see it packed. Rabbi Jacobs and the Goldberg’s sat in the front pew. (The Bishop had discreetly told the usher to keep two pews for any members of the Jewish community)
John also noticed the Roman Catholic Priest and some of the nuns also there. They all wore street clothes because Catholics at that time did not go into Protestant churches. Other churches also had representatives mixed in with the congregation.
The support given to Ruth made John feel so humble, on this most spiritual occasion in her young life.
Even though John and Madeline had taken pains to explain the Baptism and the significance to Ruth, she was still in awe of the proceedings.
When the Bishop said “Ruth–er I baptise you in the name of...” Ruth said, “My name is Ruth Bromfield!”
Madeline smiled and wondered how Ruth knew their surname. It appeared Ruth had overheard a parishioner refer to John as Father John Bromfield.
The reception developed into an exciting affair. Everyone (except for the Catholic Priest and nuns) stayed for it. John made an extra effort for Ruth to meet the Goldbergs and their son Jacob. Jacob was just a little older than her.
The Bishop and the Rabbi seemed to get along with each other and, John was somewhat surprised when the Methodist and Presbyterian pastors joined them. By the time John joined them they were in deep conversations wondering what their responsibilities would be when the war started.
It later became apparent this occasion would become a starting point for discussions that will need to happen regularly between them if war broke out. Ruth’s presence had become a constant reminder of the evil that Hitler’s Third Reich was spreading in Europe.
Sir William Bromfield
Although John was genuinely shocked to witness his brother being murdered at the railway station, he was not surprised. William had known of the dangers, but his hostile hatred for the Nazi regime had driven him to take risks for his country.
The Bromfield family were wealthy industrialists who for the last three generations ran Bromfield Industries, a group of engineering and manufacturing companies. Traditionally, the family kept only a small proportion of their wealth to themselves. Most of the profits went to the Bromfield Charitable Trust, which supported many charitable organisations.
The company’s structure allowed for William as well as his brother, John, to be uninvolved in the daily running of its enterprises. John had entered the Church, while William pursued his interest in innovating machinery development. William had developed a reputation as a leading designer of farming equipment and other mechanical methods of farming. He had travelled extensively studying farming methods all over Europe and had established an extensive network of agriculture equipment manufacturers.
With the rise of the Third Reich and Hitler’s expansionist plans, many German farm equipment factories developed weapons and military vehicles. In time, British manufacturers followed suit.
William had been contacted by the War Department early in 1934 and asked if he would be willing to continue to travel to Germany. By using his connections, he was to note what developments were taking place. With the passing of time, this would be the basis of vital intelligence should war break out.
William could also use this information in the development of any equipment that the family companies may be required to manufacture for the British Government. Initially, it would be a low-key operation, and there would be minimal risks to William’s personal safety.
Later on, the War Department asked him to map out the locations of the German factories. Doing this increased his risk as he would then be conveying military information. They gave him a small camera, but he committed most of the information to memory and placed the locations on maps each time he returned home.
William did not raise any suspicion with the Germans until he was seen drinking coffee with Ruth’s grandfather. Although it was a casual observation, a minor official thought it worthwhile to find out who and why this foreigner was having coffee with a Jew. It then became apparent that as William’s business caused him to visit manufacturers, he warranted further investigation.
William remained under surveillance for the rest of that journey. The Gestapo continued their investigation, so they arrested the Jew William had been seen having coffee with. They grilled him with all the force that they could. Even though he knew nothing of William’s activities, other than being an English manufacturer. He was thought to have died under interrogation
On William’s next visit, (somehow the Gestapo missed him at the border) he noticed that his friend was not at the usual coffee shop. He did, however, run into the Jew’s troubled daughter who told of his arrest and her mother’s apparent suicide.
That is when William told her about the possibility of getting her young child out of Germany. He sent a message to England requesting the paperwork that would be needed to admit Ruth into England. When the woman agreed to send Ruth away, William crossed the border to France, where he met with a British courier. He also sent a message to his brother. His brother replied almost immediately and made arrangements to be on the next “Kindertransport.”
When William crossed back into Germany, the Gestapo expected him. Their agents in Paris had seen him receive a package from the courier. They followed him to determine where he was going before they apprehended him, planning to investigate what the messenger gave him.
Leaving the train at Frankfurt William caught a taxi, and the Gestapo followed him. Three blocks from the station a truck carrying a full load of bottles failed to stop at an intersection and crashed into the car carrying the Gestapo. The last thing the truck driver saw was the flash of the pistol, the injured Gestapo member held in his hand.
William, being unaware he had been under surveillance, met with Ruth’s mother and gave her the documents. He arranged to meet her in two days’ time at the station where Ruth would go with William’s brother John to England.
The Gestapo searched everywhere for William but had no luck until they saw him on the platform at the railway station. As there were guards at every door of the train, there had been no need to check everyone going onto the platform.
William met up with Ruth and her mother and then, after he briefly spoke to his brother through the carriage window, passed Ruth to him at the door.
William and Ruth’s mother returned to the window, and as the train started to pull out, one of the Gestapo agents recognised William. Realising it was the Gestapo, William wanted to move away from the train and Ruth’s mother so she would not appear to be with him. They called out for him to halt, but he kept moving.
Three shots rang out, and the Englishman lay dead on the platform. Ruth’s mum saw all this and ran to help William. As she bent over him, she was shot with one bullet in her head.
Between John’s account, along with another agent’s (who was on the station at the time) report, the British developed an exact account of what happened.
The maps that William had provided turned out to be extremely valuable to the British after the war started.
The lessons William learnt and passed on to his company enabled a new division to be set up specialising in water storage and transportation, (Dams and Pipelines).
John needed to address the board of the company to inform them of William’s death and to assume the role of “non-executive president of Bromfield Industries.”
John would only need to attend board meetings four times a year and therefore, would not need to have any active role in the daily running of the company. He did, however, received regular reports and kept a keen interest in the “Water Storage and Transportation.” division.
A touching book.
It is a book that allows us to understand perfectly the meaning of words such as' sacrifice' 'tolerance' and 'goodness'. Lady Ruth Bromfield will become an example of love, kindness and hope among its thousands of experiences, connecting you to cry, smile and hope.
Reviewed by Vanessa on February 20, 2017
Reviewed By Mamta Madhavan for Readersrs’ Favorite
Lady Ruth Bromfield by Gordon Smith is a thought-provoking book in which the author shares her story of escaping Nazi persecution as a child when she was sent to England on 'Kinder Transport.' Born to an unwed Jewish mother in Germany, life was unbearable for the Jews there, and when the Nazis seized Ruth's grandfather's house, the family had nowhere to live. As the book progresses, readers get to know more about Ruth's life, how she reached England, her upbringing as a Christian Jew, and how she grew to become an inspirational leader, and also bridged the gap between people from different backgrounds and religious beliefs.
Ruth's upbringing, along with her Christian and Jewish upbringing, sets the tone of religious tolerance which readers get to see at every stage. This heartwarming story also sees Ruth's growth to take on responsibility at one of the largest construction companies in the world, and how she brings people from all walks of life together, bridging their differences. The character of Ruth has been well sketched by the author, making her story memorable and palpable to readers. Her experiences and journey reach out to readers and connect well with them, and her growth as a person is inspirational. The story is uplifting and profound, and will help readers overcome differences with others, especially when it comes to tolerance of other religions and ethnicity
Reviewed by Peggy on Amazon.com September 7, 2016
A little Jewish girl rose up when so many lives were cut short.
One would think that even as a child, fear and mistrust would be engraved in your life as a Jew during the beginning of the Gestapo rule. Ruth’s birth mother was able to get her out of the German town of Kitzigen just minutes before she was fatally shot.
At the age of three Ruth was sent to England during the “Kinder transport” movement. This was set up to rescue Jewish children from the Gestapo and concentration camps. Ruth was sent to live with a minister of the Church of England and his wife. John and Madeline Bromfield started the adoption procedure as soon as the waiting period expired.
John Bromfield promised Ruth’s mother, he would be sure that she would be schooled in her Jewish heritage. This brought the different leader of various faiths together to ensure she was educated in their beliefs. Because of Ruth, that brought a community together during a difficult time in the world and prepared her for a future of bonding people of different beliefs for a greater good.
Gordon Smith did a great job shedding light on one Jewish girl when history reveals how many lives were cut short.
Reviewed By Katelyn Hensel for Readers’ Favorite
Lady Ruth Bromfield by Gordon Smith was an interesting read, to say the least. This is not your typical historical fiction about World War II and the Nazis. This has a lot less sadness, and more of a hopeful quality about how a life can be forever altered, but still grow strong in a new and fertile home.
This book is written with exceedingly realistic clarity so that at times I was not sure if I was reading fictionalized history, a biography, or a complete work of fiction. It was intriguing and fun to feel like that with Lady Ruth Bromfield! There was a lot of meat packed into this book, and themes of family, finding yourself, moving on, and living a full life. I particularly enjoyed the aspects about Ruth becoming an engineer...Girl Power!
Gordon Smith has done a good job in trying to condense a lifetime down into a novel length story, though a bit more detail or characterization would have been helpful. Lady Bromfield/Ruth is determinedly her own character. The story meanders a bit as she travels to England and then Australia, but I do think that the focus is kept rightfully on this strong and interesting woman as she makes a life for herself, and overcomes differences to find a place where all humans can live in harmony with one another.
Review By Grady Harp Hall of fame, top 100 reviewer, Vine Voice on September 13, 2016
Australian author Gordon Smith has spent most of his life in sales, public transport and Traffic Management, managing traffic movements through and around major road work sites throughout Queensland, his last project was as Traffic Project Manager for the construction of the Gold Coast Light Rail throughout the City of Gold Coast. Gordon retired to Queensland's Sunshine Coast in 2014 and started to take interest in researching his family. He discovered links back to the 1400's and even a distant link to the Royal Family of United Kingdom. During his research, he discovered that he had 6 relatives who fought in the Great War. He knew about his relatives in the 2nd World War, but knew nothing about the men in his family who had fought in the Great War. As he has stated, my Grandparents had 4 brothers and 2 cousins in the Great War. The more I found out about them while researching my family tree it became obvious that a book MUST be written to honour them in particularly for my children, grandchildren as well as all my cousins and their children. It is also an honour to share their story with the world.' That book was Gordon’s first – a brief memoir he titled FROM THE FAMILY THAT WENT TO WAR. That was the nexus for his subsequent book – AN AUSTRALIAN STORY – a volume that reflects his profound research, a rather magnum opus of Australian history over two centuries worthy of careful study. Now Gordon focuses on one heroic lady in redefining the aspects of World War II on victims of Nazi persecution
As with his first book, Gordon sets both a mood and a respectful homage in his Preface: ‘It was late winter in 1935, when the young Jewish girl gave birth to her baby girl, in the German town of Kitzigen. The child’s father, a soldier who decided that being the father of a Jewish child would not help his progression through the ranks of Hitler’s army, deserted her. Her family was not critical of her; instead, they showed understanding and supported her through the pregnancy. She named the child, Ruth. Ruth’s grandfather ran a successful civil engineering company that dealt with the British manufacturer, Sir William Bromfield. Sir William spent most of his time visiting German enterprises that dealt with his engineering supply companies. Their business relationship had developed into a genuine friendship. For Jews, life became unbearable in Germany as it became the practice for any senior German Officer to just take whatever Jewish belongings they wanted.’ And from this beginning Gordon accompanies us on a tour f the downfall of the Jews and the kinder transport and young Ruth’s entering into the Bromfield family.
Or as the fine synopsis distils it, ‘She escaped Nazi persecution as a child, then grew to become an inspirational leader. In 1935, Ruth, was born to an unmarried Jewish mother in Germany. Fearing the Nazi persecution Ruth was sent to England on the "kinder transport“ and raised by a Church of England priest. Ruth was raised as a Christian Jew and her faith guided her life and enabled her to build bridges between different groups even at an early age. She grew to become a giant in the largest construction company in the world, where she implemented a unique social interaction system that united people from different backgrounds and beliefs. Her story will raise your hopes and show how to overcome the differences we all share. An inspirational look at overcoming religious and ethnic intolerance.’
At book’s end, as is typical of Gordon’s writing, the touching personal aspects enter and the plaque that was erected in Germany: ‘This plaque and statue serve as a symbol of the thousands of Jewish children who were put on the ‘Kinder Transport’ in 1938 by their parents so they could escape the persecution The statue depicts Jewish Mother Martha Czlowiek handing her child to an English priest aboard the train. The man standing beside her is Sir William 7th Baronet Bloomfield’. Martha and Sir William were shot before the train departed’.
As with each of Gordon’s Smith’s books, this is a factual, historically accurate and deeply moving salute to humanity and the value of the human soul.
Grady Harp, September 16
Wow, what an emotional and inspiring story!
Wow, what an emotional and inspiring story! I actually choked up at a few places, and really grew to admire Ruth’s spirit and strength… she is a true heroine. The way that Gordon Smith writes it is like we are really there in her head experiencing her amazing life with her. The writing is very descriptive, emotional, engaging and atmospheric. The attention to detail, both personal and historical is amazing, and I actually feel like I learned something about this era and thought it had a great blend of fiction and reality … the author has clearly done his research and it shows. The pacing is steady and it pulls you in right from the start. Overall an impressive and uplifting read, one that I recommend for almost everyone. (5 stars).
Reviewed by Kaylee Stevens on Nook Books March 2017
By H.Taylor on Amazon wrote September 22, 2016
Lady Ruth Bromfield by Gordon Smith has been written in a way that makes it seem like a fictional story, but in fact it's based on a real life true story.
We first meet Ruth when she was born to a unmarried mother in Germany in 1935 during the Nazi reign. Ruth's mother fears for her 3 year old daughter's life and manages to get her daughter on a 'Kinder Transport' train in the UK where she was promised by the priest, she handed Ruth to that he would make sure she was raised knowing her Jewish faith and heritage. Sadly, shortly after placing her daughter on the train with her mother was shot.
Due to John Bromfields promise the little girl helped bring different leaders of faith together and a community as well during a difficult uncertain time throughout the world. This helped her become prepared for her future bonding with people of other faiths and beliefs for a greater good.
I have to be honest, some of the things Ruth did from a young age were a little hard to believe making that seem more like fiction than truth, but other than that, this was an enjoyable read for anyone whether interested in that era or just someone looking for something new to read based on a true story.
Reviewed by Yvonne Lieblein from Underground book reviews
A truly fascinating story to inspire all readers
Could there be a more poignant time to read a story about acceptance, understanding and cooperation than during these divisive pre-election days? Lady Ruth Bromfield is ripe with resilience and brimming with examples of triumph over tyranny, adversity, stereotypes and discrimination. There are times when Gordon Smith’s detail-rich novel reads like a biography and others when it seems textbook-like. Its telling versus showing quality makes the story veer toward the didactic, and there are pacing issues exacerbated by repetition and cliché. However, history lovers will find plenty to revel in, and Ruth’s journey can surely provide a lift if your faith in humanity is in need of restoration.
Review by Yvonne Lieblein
Reviewed by Chantelle Atkins from Underground book reviewsThe Rundown
Lady Ruth Bromfield is a story of tolerance and resilience that begins in 1935 Germany. Realizing that her homeland is no longer her home, a young, unwed mother takes drastic measures to protect her daughter Ruth from the Nazis. Moments before meeting a tragic end, she saves her three-year-old by sending her to live with a minister and his wife in the England countryside via Kindertransport, the organized effort launched to transport German children to safe havens in the months preceding World War II.
Ruth’s guardians, John and Madeline, adopt her as soon as they’re able to and honor the promise made to her mother by allowing her to learn about the Jewish faith and stay connected to her heritage.
As Ruth settles into her new home; the world becomes increasingly unsettled. Her parents, kind people and progressive thinkers, truly teach Ruth by example, helping friends and strangers alike feel connected and safe during the war-torn years that follow.
Ruth is a voracious learner who excels both academically and socially. Her affinity for tolerance coupled with her curiosity and keen mind propel her into leading one of the largest construction companies in the world. Always quick to bridge differences, Ruth uses her role there to foster understanding and cooperation, even implementing a system that encourages people with different beliefs to interact with each other.
by Chantelle Atkins
Lady Ruth Bromfield” by Gordon Smith packs a real punch, mentally
“Lady Ruth Bromfield” by Gordon Smith packs a real punch, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. From the intriguing opening to the gut-wrenching opening chapters, we are transported back in time to another place and become a living part of history through Ruth’s eyes as she is born in the wrong place at the wrong time, at the onset of Hitler’s Third Reich. But while this is a tumultuous time in history, we get a renewed sense of hope and inspiration in these pages… how a young girl can lift herself from dire circumstances and become something really powerful and inspiring. Along the way we really feel her strength and determination to survive and succeed, and I feel like I somehow learned something while reading this, like Ruth (and others- Madeline, John, Clive, etc) characters really gave some humanity and hope to such an inhumane period of history. While this is certainly a spiritual-based novel with elements of Christianity and Judaism, it will also appeal to a secular audience across genres, in my opinion. A riveting read that you won’t want to put down. Would love to read more form Gordon Smith in the future! (5stars).
Reviewed by Stacy Decker on Nook Books March 2017
The Hungry Monster Book Review
As the Nazis begin to take over Germany, a young, Jewish mother strives to protect her daughter from the persecution that her people face on a daily basis. After meeting a secret agent from England, the young mother ships her daughter to the English countryside to live with a minister and his wife with the promise that they will raise her in the Jewish faith. A look into the life of a girl raised to be a Christian Jew, Lady Ruth Broomfield showcases the drive and amazing work ethic that its titular character posses which helped her become a powerful player in a world that once persecuted her people.
Gordon Smith’s Lady Ruth Bromfield proves to be an interesting read in the sense that it reads like fiction, but also reads like a true story. While the story keeps the reader on the edge of their seat near the beginning of the novel, there are obvious dips in the interest levels and movement of the story.
The book is very well written in the sense that the author definitely knows how to pace the story when it comes to facts. However, one of the major issues with the storytelling comes through the depiction of Ruth. While it is understood that Ruth is the story’s hero, she is far too perfect in her depiction. Overly smart, ambitious, and predominantly successful from an early age, the writing of ten-year-old Ruth makes her appear to be unusually self-aware. Certainly, the children of World War II grew up faster than most, but her mentality seems to be a mix of a spoiled five year old and a wise twenty year old.
Similarly, her depiction as a three-year-old is unrealistic. Had some of the conversations happened when the child was five instead of three, it would’ve been more believable than the conversation presented. However, when the reader keeps in mind that the main character is a little bit above and beyond the normal person as the story continues, it makes the unnatural maturity seem more plausible, if only by a little bit. While the writing is mostly well done, the repetitive descriptions and retelling of information slows the flow of the book greatly and dampers the overall mood when reading the story.
It’s really the ending of the story that makes up for the roller-coaster of writing and descriptions throughout the book. The promise of hope and the example of overcoming as a woman in a predominately male field is quite the impressive story. Similarly, overcoming her initial adversity at the beginning of the story as a Jewish orphan to becoming a massive player in the world of construction does offer hope to anyone who believes that their small beginnings do not allow them to go on and achieve greater things. Overall, this story provides hope
By Hungry Monster on September 13, 2016
Review by J. A. Armstrong on Amazon September 18, 2016
I truly enjoyed reading this book
As the synopsis says, this is an inspirational tale. I was interested mainly since I am from Germany and all European history is interesting to me. I truly enjoyed reading this book. Chock full of history, personal trauma and hardships as well as courage and the will to overcome even the smallest of issues life presents. Lady Ruth is an inspiring character who through determination and insights from her childhood immersed in a dual faith environment strives to become a beacon of hope in a world full of religious persecution and intolerance. The story is not an action story, or even a thriller, but the steady pace that it uses to walk through her life lulls you into the belief that you are right alongside her, walking through life. There were no editing or grammar errors that I found, and the story flowed well throughout the book. For anyone who likes history, especially set amidst the WW2 area, this is a must read.
oh my gosh… that was incredible! I need some time to process all
Oh my gosh… that was incredible! I need some time to process all that. This book was loaded with tension and drama and action… honestly even by the 15% mark I felt like I’d already been through the emotional wringer! And we were just getting started! In addition to the powerful storyline, the way the author Gordon Smith writes is simply mesmerizing. Literary prose that is clear and straightforward, yet unexpectedly beautiful, even in the bleakest of scenes. Like a light in the darkness. But it makes you just want to keep on reading. Really enjoyed the blend of reality/fiction and that we feel transported to another time and place to really experience it all firsthand… like an intimate, personalized history lesson, if you will. There were some very minor editing errors nothing too major that hindered my overall enjoyment. I recommend this for fans of historical fiction, or anyone who wants to read a riveting, moving and well written novel of love, perseverance, hope, faith and inspiration. (4 stars).
Reviewed by Nicole Hastings on Nook Books March 2017
official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Lady Ruth Bromfield" by Gordon Smith.]
4 out of 4 stars
Review by Pilar Guerrero
Lady Ruth Bromfield is the story of a little girl called Ruth who is born from a Jewish mother at the time of the Nazi Germany. She is saved from a certain death by a wealthy English businessman and adopted by his brother, a Catholic priest who raises her as a Christian and also as a Jew. She has a brilliant mind and from an early age she shows the skills of a leader. She goes to the university to study an engineering program as well as religious studies. Ruth works a few years as an engineer and gains recognition. When she is old enough, she becomes the President of the family business, one of the biggest Engineering Companies in the world with an even bigger Charitable Family Trust.
The book is a recount of Ruth’s education and vision of the world, her beliefs and her achievements in life until her mid-fifties. The author includes many details about Ruth’s friends and entertainments, which make the story more human and relatable. The author also describes in genuine detail a few episodes of English history, giving a good description of how people faced those events and how they overcame them.
The book is well written; it is engaging and the events develop at a good pace. The tone of the narration is light and sometimes playful. I enjoyed the reading but what I liked the most was the author’s attention to detail to describe Ruth’s character, moral principles and her leading qualities. This book moved and inspired me very much; for it showed how great projects began the same as a seed, and how the cooperation among different people could bring greater understanding to a situation. I have been thinking about how to apply some principles that the book describes into a project I have right now.
In my opinion, some parts of the book would have benefited from more precise dates, or at least, from an indication of Ruth’s age; it was only by the end of the book that I could understand how long it had taken Ruth to learn and achieve all that she did.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars, it accomplishes a clear and direct recollection of Lady Ruth Bromfield’s life; the reading is enjoyable and uplifting. There are two or three typos in the whole book which do not distract from the reading. I recommend this book to people who enjoy historic fiction, stories about leadership and to those looking for stories to inspire other women.
This was unlike anything I’ve read before
“Lady Ruth Bromfield” by Gordon Smith was the first book I’d read from this author but I hope it won’t be the last! (happy to see he has a few others already published). This was unlike anything I’ve read before, and it surprised me how much I liked it, especially considering the somber backdrop. But instead of focusing on the horrors and the negatives, Smith lifts the story and its readers up high with the in-depth look if its remarkable heroine in Lady Ruth Bromfield. She is so easy to connect with that it doesn’t matter if her life and experiences (even faiths) are different from yours – you relate to her and can’t help but be incredibly impressed. Love that this is inspired by a true story but still reads and an entertaining novel. The way that Smith describes things makes it feel very realistic and lifelike and I was pleased with how it all wrapped up at the end. Recommend for fans of spiritual literary fiction, bios, drama. (4 stars).
Reviewed by Gillian Hancock on Indie Book Reviewers March 2017.
Excellently written and well crafted
This book by Gordon Smith does an incredible job of transporting us to the past where we meet our heroine Ruth. We already know that we are in for an inspiring and moving ride from the description (and the other great reviews), but I was genuinely impressed (and surprised!) with just how much this book touched me. All too often it seems we focus on the negative side of humanity, and I love that Lady Ruth’s rise is contrasted with the Nazi regime… good against evil, if you will. For even in the toughest and bleakest circumstances a star can shine that will light the way for others, providing both inspiration and hope. This book delivers in spades and I think it has a wonderful message that many will relate to, despite religious backgrounds. Tolerance and compassion is a strong theme here and it is contagious to the readers. Excellently written and well crafted. Highly recommend. (5 stars).
Reviewed by Karen Matthews on Indie Book Reviewers March 2017.
Powerfully written novel
First off, this was one of the more powerfully written novels I’ve read in a while, and I couldn’t help but notice how that played off against the subject matter. Minor occasional slow pacing aside, the narrative prose and character development is some of the best I’ve read in a long while. We really transform along with the young Ruth as she grows into a special woman, and feel her influence on the others around her. And the story arc… You just absolutely cannot stop reading after the introduction (at least I couldn’t), and the shocking events and continual building of tension and high stakes makes it almost impossible to put down at times. While this is definitely more character driven than action based, it is not the least bit boring! The thing that struck me the most was just how well Gordon Smith nailed the human experience during this time and gave a different angle to both religion and the wartime era (and after) than we normally see in books… it felt as close as if being there! (4-5 stars).
Reviewed by Layla Messing on Indie Book Reviewers March 2017.
In 1935, Ruth was in born to an unmarried Jewish mother in Germany.
Fearing the Nazi persecution, Ruth was sent to England on the "kinder transport“ to be raised by a Church of England priest.
He raised in the Christian faith, and with help, he also raised her in the