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Kindertransport Rescued Child Will Launch Memoir Wednesday in West Hartford

Ivan Backer. Submitted photo

Ivan Backer, who was rescued from Prague by Kindertransport, will launch his new memoir Wednesday at the Mandell JCC.

Ivan Backer. Submitted photo

Ivan Backer. Submitted photo

Submitted by Mandell JCC

Hartford humanitarian and former Trinity College community activist, Ivan Backer, one of Sir Nicholas Winton’s original Kindertransport rescued children, will launch his new memoir My Train To Freedom: A Jewish Boy’s Journey from Nazi Europe to a Life of Activism (Skyhorse Publishing) on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, 7 p.m., at the Mandell JCC, 335 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford.

The free event, being held on the United Nations’ International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is open to the public and will feature an author talk and book signing. Reservations are required and can be made at the MandellJCC Box Office, 860-231-6316, tickets@mandelljcc.org.

The book is a deeply moving account of Ivan, who as a 10-year-old Jewish boy narrowly escaped the Nazis in May 1939 on the famous Kindertransport from Prague, which saved 669 children. The daring train rescue, portrayed in the recent documentary film, Nicky’s Family, was organized by the late Sir Nicholas Winton, then a young London stockbroker-turned-hero. Sir Nicholas Winton died at age 106 in 2015.

Detailed in this gripping true story is Backer’s dangerous escape, his boyhood in England, his perilous 1944 voyage to America, and his mantra today. Now he is an 86-year-old who remains an activist for peace and justice. He has been influenced by his Jewish heritage, his Christian boarding school education in England, and the always present question: “For what purpose was I spared the Holocaust?”

My Train to Freedom was thoroughly researched and shaped by Backer’s own memories. It includes interviews he conducted in 1980 in Czechoslovakia with his mother and her sister, later translated into English; a collection of conversations he had with his older brother and cousin; insights gained from Nicky’s Family, and concludes with never-before-published death march accounts by two family members.

About the Author

Ivan Backer was born in Czechoslovakia in 1929 and escaped the Holocaust on a Kindertransport as a 10-year-old. He came to the United States via England in 1944, and, after earning degrees in history and theology, worked as a parish priest before moving to Hartford, CT, where he held a number of positions at Trinity College. He served as the president and executive director of the Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (SINA). His community involvement reached beyond his professional responsibilities and resulted in his service on at least 17 boards of directors, task forces, and coalitions. He resides in Hartford, CT.

The Jan. 27, 2016, book launch is sponsored by the MandellJCC Hartford Jewish Film Festival, JFACT Voices of Hope, Trinity College Hillel and Skyhorse Publishing. Books are on sale at the MandellJCC. For more information, contact Harriet J. Dobin, Festival Director, 860-231-6350, hdobin@mandelljcc.org.

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