As Europe prepared for war, the newly-founded Stoatley Rough School began to shelter hundreds of traumatized Jewish children fleeing (usually alone) from Nazi persecution. Little Holocaust Survivors, based on dozens of original interviews, tells their stories, and the stories of the teachers and benefactors who created this refuge in a country house on a hillside in Surrey, donated by its philanthropic owner. Struggling against constant money problems, war-time deprivation, the occasional suspicion of locals and unfamiliarity with the English language, teachers and pupils endeavoured to hold their educational establishment together. As the Luftwaffe bombed London forty miles away, the inhabitants of Stoatley Rough did their best to focus on the values of equality, tolerance, music appreciation and hard work.
Author Barbara Wolfenden (wife of one of the boys educated at Stoatley Rough) has interviewed many of the children (both 'Hut Boys' and 'Household Girls') from the school, and the book draws on their individual stories. It begins in Nazi Germany, where so many Jewish families were separated - often for ever - in their desperate attempts to survive, and continues with the experiences of those child refugees who found their way to England, and to Stoatley Rough. The varied cast of characters includes not only the children but also the German-Jewish feminist headmistress and the German teachers she brought with her, and the school's wealthy and zealous English benefactors, whose extraordinary efforts created some sort of order (often makeshift, sometimes eccentric) out of the chaos. In these extraordinary circumstances, the children grew into adults, and Barbara Wolfenden also follows their stories after Stoatley Rough, as they made their way in the world. Unique and intimate, the book is also a testimony to the modest power of trust, endurance and fellow-feeling in a time of loss and hardship.