The Tiger in the Attic: Memories of the Kindertransport and Growing Up English

The Tiger in the Attic: Memories of the Kindertransport and Growing Up English

The Tiger in the Attic: Memories of the Kindertransport and Growing Up English

The Tiger in the Attic: Memories of the Kindertransport and Growing Up English


In 1939, on the eve of Hitler's invasion of Poland, seven-year-old Edith Milton (then Edith Cohn) and her sister Ruth left Germany by way of the Kindertransport, the program which gave some 10,000 Jewish children refuge in England. The two were given shelter by a jovial, upper-class British foster family with whom they lived for the next seven years. Edith chronicles these transformative experiences of exile and good fortune in The Tiger in the Attic, a touching memoir of growing up as an outsider in a strange land.

In this illuminating chronicle, Edith describes how she struggled to fit in and to conquer self-doubts about her German identity. Her realistic portrayal of the seemingly mundane yet historically momentous details of daily life during World War II slowly reveals istelf as a hopeful story about the kindness and generosity of strangers. She paints an account rich with colorful characters and intense relationships, uncanny close calls and unnerving bouts of luck that led to survival. Edith's journey between cultures continues with her final passage to America- yet another chapter in her life that required adjustment to a new world- allowing her, as she narrates it here, to visit her past as an exile all over again.

The Tiger in the Attic is a literary gem from a skilled fiction writer, the story of a thoughtful and observant child growing up against the backdrop of the most dangerous and decisive moment in modern European history. Offering a unique perspective on Holocaust studies, this book is both an exceptional and universal story of a young German-Jewish girl caught between worlds.

"Adjectives like 'audacious' and 'eloquent,' 'enchanting' and 'exceptional' require rationing.... But what if the book demands these terms and more? Such is the case with The Tiger in the Attic, Edith Milton's marvelous memoir of her childhood."- Kerry Fried, Newsday

"Milton is brilliant at the small stroke... as well as broader ones."- Alana Newhouse, New York Times Book Review


The first thing I remember about being in England is Aunt Helen trying to put me on her lap. We are on a train taking us from London to Swansea, and since I speak no English it is difficult to resolve my urgent need to get off the lap of this woman I have never seen before. Not, at least, without becoming impolite about it. I have been warned of dire consequences if I fail to be polite when I get to England.

Luckily, my sister Ruth is along. Ruth speaks English. “I have to go the bathroom,” I tell her in German. She translates this for the woman with the lap, who threatens to get up and take me there. “Not her. You have to take me,” I say to Ruth.

My poor sister—she is thirteen, an awkward age at best, and the Basic English she has learned at school has never been tested on a native speaker. I have admired and adored her from afar for years—my handsome, scornful, heroic sister, six years older than I am and good at sports—but at that point she must be loathing me. “If you don’t make that woman put me down,” I tell her when we are finally alone . . .

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