This book provides a window on events in pre-war central Europe. It takes the journal and correspondence of John Ashford (a Norfolk Quaker) who made two journeys (in 1938 and 1939) to visit isolated groups of German, Austrian and Czech Quakers and the Quaker international teams besieged with people desperate to escape persecution.
Travelling Towards War provides a small window on events in pre-war central Europe. It focuses on the journal and recently discovered correspondence of John Ashford - a Norfolk Quaker and fruit-grower - who made two short but memorable journeys in 1938 and 1939 to visit isolated groups of German, Austrian and Czech Quakers and the Quaker international teams besieged with people desperate to escape persecution. John travelled coolly across frontiers as the likelihood of war grew. In early 1938, he was in Vienna as Austria tried to stave off annexation, and in Prague as tensions between Czechoslovakia and Germany mounted. In 1939, he was in Berlin only months after the Munich crisis and the Kristallnacht pogrom against the Jews. He was in Prague on March 15th, 1939, when the Nazis marched into the city, among friends at high risk of arrest, helping last ditch attempts to get refugees out to safety. Vanessa Morton's extensive research has unravelled the identities of many of the people John Ashford was visiting, how they were responding to the tensions and injustices around them, and what happened to them when war began. It is an intriguing story of little known circumstances and groups: of a remarkable traveller, and of tiny groups of Quakers, some reacting stoically, some fearfully, others courageously, to accelerating events.
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