A Holocaust survivor’s story told in new book

New book
New book

A new book penned by a member of Strathkelvin Writers Group tells the gripping story of her mum and how who she survived the Holocaust.

Surviving Brigitte’s Secrets is the memoir of Saskia Tepe.

It is a mother and daughter story which traces the traumatic journey of Brigitte Langer during the Nazi era and later as a refugee in Britain in the 1960s, intertwined with the story of her daughter Saskia.

Brigitte suffered persecution under the Nazis. Brought up a German Catholic, she was categorised as a Mischling as she had Jewish ancestry.

She escaped off a train travelling to Auschwitz by jumping into a snow drift, but her freedom was to be short-lived.

At the end of the war, Brigitte, a displaced German, was placed in a holding camp under Czech and Russian control before fleeing to Germany to live in yet another camp.

It was not until 1961 that she and her family were accepted as refugees in the UK.

Glasgow Caledonian University student Kevin Hickey (24) took part in a competition organised by Saskia and Gathering the Voices, which documents unique oral testimonies of Holocaust survivors who sought sanctuary in Britain.

A former graduate of GCU, Saskia briefed students to design a front cover that illustrated one of the darkest periods in history and the mother-daughter bond which is central to the narrative.

Saskia says she has struggled to come to terms with the past and her own turbulent start in life in both post war Germany and in the UK.

She said: “Kevin included a moving photo of my mother taken in 1947, not long after her escape from the camp run by the Czechs and Russians in Freiwaldau.

“The picture captivated me as my mother’s eyes tell the whole story.

“Writing the book and tracing my mother’s history allowed me to find some peace with the past. I was 13 when I learned about my mother’s past and it was deeply shocking.”

Student Kevin Hickey, said: “By reading the stories and choosing images, I wanted to stay away from stereotypes and focus on the personal story and the journey that spans generations .

“And ultimately I wanted to produce something I would be proud of.”

Glasgow Caledonian University is a partner of Gathering the Voices.

Gathering the Voices is an organisation which is supported and funded by organisations, including the National Lottery, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Scottish Government.

Gathering the Voices is available online to access the testimonies of other wartime refugees.

Surviving Brigitte’s Secrets is available to download from Amazon and in paperback.