Escape to Gwrych Castle : A Jewish Refugee Story-9781837600069

Escape to Gwrych Castle : A Jewish Refugee Story

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Author: Hesketh, Andrew

North Wales

Published on 22 June 2023 by UNIVERSITY OF WALES PRESS (Calon) in the United Kingdom.

Hardback | 304 pages, No
145 x 224 x 29 | 458g

In 2020 and 2021, at the height of the Covid pandemic, Gwrych Castle was familiar to the British public as the setting of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! Lesser known is that, at the beginning of the Second World War, this once-grand country house in North Wales became home to around two hundred Jewish refugee children who had been rescued from Europe on the Kindertransport.

Under trying conditions, while the families they had been separated from faced the gravest of dangers, these children and their adult guardians established a Hachshara at Gwrych Castle: a training centre intended to prepare them for the dream of establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine (Eretz Yisrael), where they hoped one day to be reunited with the families they left behind.

In this fascinating debut, historian Andrew Hesketh tells the story of these refugees and the community they built, shining a light on a chapter of Jewish history that deserves to be far more widely known. He recounts moving moments of friendship, respect, tension and humour as the new arrivals and local residents came to know each other, while the shadows of war loomed ever closer, and the Hachshara project found itself facing an uncertain future.