Noted author and lecturer Anne Lehmann Fox passed away on Dec. 26 at 90 years old.
At 12 years old, Fox was sent to England, where her brother had gone a year before, via the Kindertransport. Her experience growing up in Nazi Germany and being separated from her parents, whom she never saw again, served as inspiration for her first of many books, My Heart in a Suitcase.
The memoir was published in 1996 and was subsequently turned into a play of the same name. It is still performed in schools across the country today. Before she died, Anne Fox went to productions of the play within driving distance, so the students could meet her and ask questions.
The book, which is featured at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, was the first time her son, Julian, found out about his mother’s backstory, as she hadn’t told him or his sister, Nina, about it while he was growing up. She said nothing about it even on a family trip to Amsterdam and Germany.
“What makes her unique,” said Julian Fox of his mother, “is that she’s someone who went through all of the anger and horrifying stuff that happened at the Holocaust and maintained friendship with the people who were non-Jews who were her friends before. And that’s the story of the play, that’s why the play resonates with teenagers today who are Jewish and not Jewish.”
Her best friend growing up in Berlin was not Jewish and was a member of Hitler Youth. Her friendship with the young Anne made her realize how wrong it was and she left. They remained close until her friend passed away in Berlin a few years ago.
“She never held it against her girlfriend, and they stayed in communication through the war, and after the war they got back together again as friends, and they went to see each other,” Julian Fox said. “So it’s really the story of friendship that is stronger than all the bad things that can happen to you in the world.”
Anne Fox later co-wrote Ten Thousand Children: True Stories Told by Children Who Escaped the Holocaust on the Kindertransport.
“They put these kids together to go to school because they needed each other,” Julian Fox said. “They were all orphans at that point, and there were 10,000 of them and she wrote a book about it, and it was written as a textbook so that children could understand what happened to other children in the Holocaust.”
Anne Fox also annotated a collection of letters her parents sent her and her brother in England for Between the Lines: Letter From the Holocaust. Her book My Furry, Feathered and Finned Friends was based on all the pets the family had, Julian Fox said, noting that his mother loved animals.
She was passionate about the arts, too. She worked at Benjamin Franklin High School as the director of a cultural enrichment program and at Appel Farm Arts Camp in Elmer, N.J.
She also played clarinet in the Lower Merion Symphony Orchestra for many years.
“What I learned from her was the same thing you would learn from the book,” Julian Fox said, “which is that friendships live on no matter what. If it’s a true friendship, you’ll have these friends forever. It’s not based on politics, it’s not based on religion, it’s not based on things like that, it’s based on connecting with people.”
Anne Fox is survived by two children and four grandchildren. Donations may be made to the Lower Merion Symphony Orchestra.
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