Saturday, 31 January 2015

Elsie Tilney's glory

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Sometime ago I wrote a piece on Always-hanging-around in support for a local Norwich lady who during a very dangerous period in world history showed exceptional humility and bravery that her actions deserved to be honoured. Her name was Elsie Tilney and there were many who thought she should be remembered at Yad Vashem the Righteous Among the Nations. I am pleased to say this is now going to happened as reported in the local press. The article below brings into true prospective how comfortable modern life is for most of us in the Western world and what little is expected of us in return for this pleasure.

Elsie Tilney, Norwich’s unsung heroine of the Holocaust, given international honour by Yad Vashem

Surrey Chapel missionary Elsie Tilney from Norwich, who helped Jewish people to escape from Nazi internment camps during the second world war.Surrey Chapel missionary Elsie Tilney from Norwich, who helped Jewish people to escape from Nazi internment camps during the second world war.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
6:00 AM
Norwich’s unsung heroine of the Holocaust has finally gained international recognition for her selfless actions to protect Jewish people during the Second World War – and her home city has been urged to help celebrate it.

The story of Elsie Tilney

Elsie Maude Tilney was born in Norwich in 1893. In 1919 she applied to the North Africa Mission (NAM) and was appointed jointly with the Mildmay Mission to the Jews.
She spent several spells in northern Africa until the second world war loomed.
In 1939, Elsie travelled to Vienna, in Austria, and brought a one-year-old Jewish girl called Ruth Buchholz back to Paris on July 23. Ruth later became the mother of Philippe Sands QC, whose family research helped uncover Elsie’s exploits.
Elsie continued working in Paris until it fell under German occupation in June 1940.
Along with hundreds of other foreign nationals, she was placed in an internment camp at Vittel – described as one of the more “hospitable” camps, as it was located in requisitioned hotels.
One of the most extraordinary accounts of Elsie’s selfless bravery involves Sashe Krawec, a Polish soldier who was imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto, but was transferred to Vittel along with 400 other Jews on the basis of his South American passport, probably bought on the black market. Elsie became his English teacher.
When orders were issued for all those people to be taken to Auschwitz for extermination, Sashe mysteriously disappeared – until Vittel was liberated by French forces in 1944.
A letter included in a NAM newsletter tells of some of Elsie’s actions. It says: “She hid for a period of 16 weeks a young Jew condemned to be sent to an annihilation camp in Poland.”
A second letter says: “When the Germans abandoned the camp in September, she again put herself in great personal danger by hiding the camp records and papers, for she had been camp archivist.”
Elsie stayed at Vittel until the Germans abandoned it in September 1944, and then remained to help with the repatriation of about 200 Jewish people.
After the war, Elsie travelled to Lisbon, and worked with the Swiss Mission in South Africa. She eventually moved to Florida in the USA, where she lived close to her brother, Frederick. She died there in 1974.
The extraordinary story of Elsie Tilney had never been told until it was uncovered two years ago by London barrister Prof Philippe Sands, when he began researching his family history.
He discovered that his mother Ruth Buchholz had been rescued from annexed Austria as a one-year-old in 1939 and taken to Paris by the devout Surrey Chapel missionary, who was subsequently held for four years at an internment camp in Vittel, in occupied France.
There, she used her position as camp archivist to hide camp records and papers which could have exposed Jewish internees to Nazi suspicion, and the horrors of the concentration camps.
One Polish soldier named Sashe Krawec, destined for Auschwitz, was hidden in Elsie’s bathroom for 16 weeks – until Vittel was liberated by French forces in 1944.
Now, her humble heroism has been formally honoured as Righteous Among the Nations by the official Holocaust remembrance authority at Yad Vashem in Israel – one of more than 25,000 people recognised for risking their lives to save Jews during the darkest days of the war, but only the 21st British recipient of the honour.
In a London ceremony on Wednesday, a medal is due to be presented by Israel’s ambassador to Elsie’s closest living relative, 84-year-old Joseph Schultz, who lives at the Great Hospital in Norwich’s Bishopgate.
And on February 1, the people of the city have been invited to join a special commemorative event and service at Surrey Chapel, Elsie’s spiritual home.
Dr Derek Haylock, a retired elder at Surrey Chapel who is organising the event, said: “We knew of Elsie Tilney as one of our missionaries, but she was not much more than a name in our archives. The story of her extraordinary exploits in France during the Second World War was something she seemed to have kept to herself.
“We’re very excited that one of our former church members is being honoured as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, one of only 21 such award to British people. This award is a great honour for our church, for Elsie’s surviving relatives and for the city of Norwich.”
Mr Schultz said: “Elsie was my mother’s first cousin, but I can’t really remember her saying anything about her. I think people were more modest in those days, they didn’t wave flags about to say what they had done.
“Elsie is an unsung local heroine, and she is very similar in many ways to Edith Cavell. When you look back at the facts, how people lived daily under the threat of Nazism and in those conditions during the war, you cannot believe how people in those conditions could risk their lives to save other people.
“I am very proud to be associated with her, even at this distance. I think locally many people will be very, very surprised to learn of this story, but they can be very, very pleased about it too.”
The commemorative event at Surrey Chapel on Botolph Street in Norwich will start at 4.30pm on Sunday February 1, with a presentation by Philippe Sands QC, followed by a themed evening service from 6.15pm–7pm.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

You live by the sword, you die by the ?

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The recent events in Paris, with people killing people while trying to use faith to justify their actions, has been in the world wide media to the point that has sent the western world into a frenzy. I look on life with a positive eye, and when I see terrible things happen between the human the race it just goes to prove to me that being negative only produces negative results.

The terrorists actions in Paris were a terrible event, but one that can be added to many such things that have occurred throughout human history. The word assassin  comes from biblical times when the people in power had to look over their shoulders in-case they were stabbed in the back by some unknown person. Just look at Julies Cesar. The assassin's have now become the terrorists.

What I find even more frightening is not what happened, but the response of our rulers. For centuries the ordinary folk on the street have been fighting the people at the top to gain some freedoms; let in the last thirty years these basic rights of man-kind have been eroded in the name of democracy. Every time there's an outrage we are expected to give even more power to the top people so they can supposedly make us safe!

For the last twenty years the British security service have been requesting unlimited powers to monitor the most basic freedom of all, and that's the basic right to privacy. Without privacy of the individual you have no freedom. The Nazis in the 1930 understood this, and that's why they made all Jews wear the Star of David. The Jew was no longer a private citizen, but somebody that could be identified, and thus abused.

What I find to be a double standard is that every time someone causes an act of terror we find out later on that they were known to the powers to be in the first place, but they never took any actions! It does make me think that maybe they let these people carry out these terrible deeds so our masters can then use this to gain more control over us, the individual, and thus regained what they see as their historical right to rule without challenge.

The most dangerous sentence in the English language is. "If you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear." Why is this so dangerous? Because it turns on its head the simplest requirement for all freedom. You are Innocent until proven guilt. This sentence states that you are guilty until you prove you are  innocent.

It's such a small change in the British way of life 99% of the population will never notice, and thus will agree to it by default by their failure to act against it.

Don't let the terrorists win by giving more power to the people at the top to control our lives.



Friday, 16 January 2015

Back to school, but not for long.

The children went back to school after the Christmas break on the 5th of January and although it was a hectic, but enjoyable, holiday I was glad to get back to some normality. I sat down enjoying the piece and quite with a hot mug of tea answering questions to my latest interview for my new book, Daniel Jones Doom, on my laptop when the wife set down some old letters next to me.

She had decided it was time to go through them and recycle some. Most were letters from various groups and the school with dates and information on them. One she did keep had all the school holiday terms for 2015 and when she left the room to answer the phone I took a quick peek at it. I looked and then took a double take at the dates. The next holiday term was only six weeks away! Six weeks, that’s it! As a parent the school holidays seem to come around too quickly, but as a child I remembered it seemed the other way around, and took ages to arrive.

We had one week’s grace before all the groups the children attend started and King’s taxi service had to resume which felt like a small luxury, but one we knew would not last for long. As they grow older more things spike their interest and the more things they like to try. This only means more groups they potentially want to attend, and so the more time us parents have to sacrifice to full fill these new desires. On the one hand it’s great for any child’s development, but on the other it can be hard work, not just with your time, but also financially, but it’s something well worth making the sacrifice for.  



Friday, 9 January 2015


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The decorations are down and packed away for another year. The family lounge now looks bare and with the grey, and cold, wintry weather blustering outside it's not the time to look back over 2014 with negative eyes, but to look forward to 2015 with positive eyes.

The children are back to school so now for a short period during the day there is enough piece and quite to concentrate on the all the hard work involved that all authors do in self promoting their works, and with the release of Daniel Jones Doom at the end of December their is plenty of work for me to do.

Christmas was hectic, but enjoyable, although when I climbed the stepladders on a cold Sunday morning to take down the outside fairy lights I was glad it was all over. There are only so many nuts, chocolate, sweats and cheese you can eat before the thought of a hard workout in the gym becomes ever more appealing by the minute.

So here we are. 2015 has arrived. You can never tell what the future holds although history can give a sneaky preview. All I know for certain is that the up and coming year will have high moments and also low moments. I just pray there will be more highs than lows.

What I also wish for is that all my readers at Always-hanging-around will be with me for the following year as we travel through life together. Also that you all enjoy reading Daniel Jones Doom, and that it brings you as much pleasure at it brought me in writing the manuscript and bringing this story into being, and the characters alive.

I know one other thing and that's life won't be dull in the King household during the next year.

So I wish you, your family and your friends all the best for 2015, and may your highs be many and your lows be few.