My hope is that by telling my story, it will help young people to begin to understand what can happen to ordinary people when they become victims of racism, discrimination and prejudice.

- Sue Pearson 

Sue was born in 1928 in Moravska Ostrava, Czechoslovakia, before moving to Prague when she was four years old for her father’s work. Her family had a comfortable life, and Sue had many friends. She enjoyed spending her time doing gymnastics, swimming, reading, and ice skating in the winter. She was also a member of the Rote Falcons (Red Falcons), an international youth group, and enjoyed going camping with them.

In 1938 they moved into a larger flat in order to accommodate Jewish families fleeing from Nazi rule in Germany and Austria. Sue’s parents became increasingly worried about what would happen if the Nazis came to Czechoslovakia and this worry intensified as time went on.

Sue has vivid memories of the panic and horror when her family first heard about the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939. She did not wish to go to school, however her father insisted they must carry on as normal for as long as possible. Sue went to school, and in the afternoon all the children were told to line the streets to welcome the incoming army. They were given paper swastika flags to wave, which many of the children tore up.

By this time lots of Jewish families were trying to leave the country, however most were not successful as most countries did not wish to take any Jewish refugees. Nicholas Winton, an English stockbroker on holiday in Prague, recognised the plight of the Jews in Europe and secured permission to take 1,000 children to Britain, provided there were families willing to take them in. In the end the war stopped the final transport from leaving, however Nicholas was able to save around 670 children from Czechoslovakia, including Sue.

Sue believes she got a place on the Kindertransport due to her involvement with the Rote Falcons. The Falcons were associated with the Woodcraft Folk in England, and 20 houses were offered to the Falcons by the Woodcraft Folk.

Sue boarded a train on the 29th of June, 1938 along with around 241 other children, aged from 2-15. She had no idea that she would never see her parents again. They travelled through Germany and into the Netherlands, where the Red Cross gave them cake and cocoa. They then boarded a boat from Rotterdam to Harwich.

Upon arrival, Sue and a group of children were sent to a Woodcraft Folk camp in Epping Forest for a week, before being picked up by their carers. Sue and another girl were sent to Sheffield, where she remained with the same family for 5 years. She was lucky in this respect, as many refugee children had to move between different families.

Sue received letters almost daily from her parents, who remained hopeful they would be able to join her in England. The letters suddenly stopped due to the war breaking out. Sue later found out that her parents had been deported to Lodz, Poland in 1941.

It was not until the 1970s that Sue found a record of her father’s death in the Lodz ghetto in 1942. She never found a record of her mother, although it would have been very unlikely that she had survived. Sue was given a letter written by her father before he was deported by his secretary after the war, which said that he still believed in the good of mankind, and that he and Sue’s mother were still surrounded by loving people despite the horrors of the war.

Sue led a happy and fulfilling life in England, despite not knowing how her parents met their fates. She was proactive in discussing the Holocaust and her experiences, despite the fact that she found this very difficult, at least initially. Many survivors, including Sue, did not discuss their experiences for years. Sue gave her testimony at the Centre for as long as she could and worked exceptionally hard with young people who she believed were responsible in carrying on her story.

The Collection

The museum houses documents, objects, and photographs donated by Sue. It is our privilege to care for these artefacts and ensure they are available for future generations. The museum's collection provides vital, tangible, evidence of the Holocaust. We are committed to ensuring we have everything we need to continue to tell our speaker's stories into the future. Please find a selection of objects below from the Sue Pearson Collection, you can also search our collections for further objects and information.