In November 1941, Peter Bradley’s grandparents were deported from their home in Bavaria to their deaths in Latvia. This is his attempt to understand why their fellow citizens put them on that train, and why the world’s democracies failed to save them…
The Last Train is a profound and moving homage to Peter’s lost family and to his father who rarely spoke of the traumas through which he lived.
It is also his attempt to understand, through the prism of his family’s story, how the Nazis came to conceive and implement the Final Solution.
Why did Sally and Bertha’s fellow citizens put them on the train that carried them to the killing fields?
Why did the democracies which so loudly condemned Hitler’s persecution of the Jews deny them sanctuary?
And why, when Peter’s father finally reached Britain after five terrible months in a Nazi concentration camp, was he arrested as an ‘enemy alien’?
The quest for answers led Peter to explore the origins and evolution of an ancient hatred and the struggles against it of each generation of his family, from the Reformation, through the Enlightenment and the Age of Reform, to the catastrophe of the Holocaust.
This is the powerful, poignant story of Peter’s journey through family papers and archives, through works of scholarship and the testimony of survivors, and from Bavaria and Buchenwald to the mass graves of the Baltic.
And, reflecting on what he learned, he asks: in the events of our own times, we are all perpetrators or bystanders or resisters; which of those roles do we choose for ourselves?
Peter Bradley will be in conversation with journalist Jon Silverman about the discoveries he made about his tragic family history during the Holocaust and how he examined the broader questions of the history of antisemitism and its resurgence today.
Jon Silverman is Research Professor of Media & Criminal Justice at the University of Bedfordshire (UK). Before becoming an academic, he was a journalist for the BBC and worked for 13 years (1989-2002) as Home/Legal Affairs Correspondent, winning the Sony Radio Journalist of the Year award in 1996 for his coverage of the UK’s war crimes investigations.