LIVERPOOL students are travelling to London’s Liverpool Street Station today to perform a home-grown play to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Kindertransport.
The students from John Moores University will perform Suitcase, a play written and directed by their tutor Ros Merkin whose mother and Liverpool refugees inspired the story.
Her mother, Jo, was one of more than 9,500 children evacuated from Nazi-occupied Europe between 1938 and 1940.
At the age of 11, Jo and her younger sisters, Melanie and Paula, were put on a train from Vienna to London to avoid Jewish persecution.
Known as Kindertransport, the 18-month-long evacuation saw Jewish children between the ages of two and 17 sent over to England to start new lives. Many stayed.
Ms Merkin, from Aigburth, said: “My sisters and I were talking about my mother one night and I thought I would like to write a play about her and other’s experiences of Kindertransport.
“Children came to Britain, saved from certain death, but very few ever saw their parents or extended family again.
“My mother and her sisters were some of those children and were taken to Sunderland where they were split up and placed with different families.
“She had a hard time as, like a lot of the ‘refugee children’, she was used as a domestic slave to carry out housework.
“They made her leave school at 14 and look after their baby but she ran away to London.
“She never spoke much about what happened but she did say odd things like she remembered having a coat made in the ‘English’ fashion.”
Suitcase is a series of scenes and moments made up of composite characters informed by the stories Ros has heard and the refugees she has met.
It includes a scene from a train station in Germany where a guard puts his finger through the middle of each chocolate in a box one refugee carried with them as a gift to their adopted family.
It combines sad and moving moments with those of comedy and happy scenes where children meet their adopted family for the first time.