International Holocaust Remembrance Day – How We Saved the Children

International Holocaust Remembrance Day – How We Saved the Children


Actress Debbie Arnold recounts the tragic but poignant story of her Mother Mary Grimanger, and how the
Kindertransport saved her life.

The passport picture of the little girl is my mother’s. It’s stamped with a Nazi Swastika and she is rendered ‘stateless’.
She was 4 years old. Mary was one of the lucky ones as she was brought to the UK on the Kindertransport.

Mary’s passport – Cancelled with the Nazi stamp

Mary’s incredible parents (my grandparents), made the decision to put her on what was to become the very last train to
leave Vienna and that was the last time she ever saw them.

Mary remembers vividly at the age of only 4 being put on the train at the station in Vienna by her Aunt.   She recalled
how she had looked around to say goodbye, but her aunt had disappeared out of sight.  The Nazis had told all relatives
that if they showed emotion, the children would not be allowed to leave.  So Mary’s distraught parents had elected her
aunt to take her as they would not have been able to contain their grief.

Mary arrived in Harwich and was taken in by a British family in London who said they wanted her as a ‘companion’ for
their daughter who was the same age. This wasn’t the case as Mary was used as ‘slave labour’, she was given very little
food and was generally mistreated.  She had ended up alone, in a foreign country, not knowing a word of English.
I cannot imagine how that gorgeous little girl from a doting family managed to cope, but she did, and the alternative
would have been far worse.

My beautiful mother Mary was a fighter. She was brave, extremely beautiful and very bright. When the war was over she
was taken to the Beacon in Tunbridge Wells where she met other refugees. That’s when she found out she was Jewish,
she never knew before, and that both parents had been exterminated. She was 10 years old, orphaned and alone. Mary
was told her father had been artist and that’s all she knew about either of her parents.

After leaving the Beacon at 16 she came to London to train to be a beauty therapist and lived in a Jewish hostel.
It was then she was found by her half brother- the son of her father from a previous marriage – who had met her father
in the Ghetto before he was taken to Auchwitz.

Josef was one of the few who managed to escape from the camp. He told her that her father was indeed an ‘artist’
though not the sort she had imagined. He was a comedian and an actor and Josef her brother was also a comedian!

The news was very fitting, as after winning numerous beauty titles in London, Mary had become friendly with one of the
judges of a competition – impressionist Eddie Arnold – who was a huge star at the London Palladium.
Eddie (my father)  literally swept Mary off her feet and married her!

Debbie’s grandfather Arnold Griminger

The rest is indeed history as Mary then went on to become one of the UK’s most successful Theatrical Agents, and of
course I myself am enjoying a hugely successful acting career and am an ambassador for many charitable causes.
There have been many success stories of survivors through the Kindertransport who have made a difference to this
Country and indeed the World.

My Mum always said the UK had saved her life and that she was ‘proud to be British’.  How could she imagine all these
years later that history is repeating itself. How there are millions of child refugees that are starving to death and we are
no longer helping them.

Debbie with her mother Mary

I normally remain non-political, as does, but this is no longer a political issue but a humane one and
extremely urgent.  In 2016, Lord Alf Dubs, also a Kindertransport child, sponsored an amendment to the Immigration
Act 2016 to offer unaccompanied refugee children safe passage to Britain amidst the European migrant crisis.  So far
only 300 children have come to the UK under the scheme and the government said that councils were not able to find
homes for more children than this.  Only last week the amendment, which was passed in the Lords earlier in the week
was crushed by the Commons vote.  What could be more humane than asking that unaccompanied child refugees
stranded in Europe be able to join relatives in this country?  We managed to help 10.000 over 80 years ago why can’t
we help now?

Another innocent child leaves her family behind


We are now putting this to the people, because it is only you who can help overturn the vote.  We can only imagine
our own children, through some terrible act of fate, with similar life threatening circumstances.


Here is Debbie talking to Alex Salmond on the ‘Alex Salmond Show’ about her mother Mary and her incredible journey


On International Holocaust Memorial Day, let’s all learn by the past and have empathy for these frightened children.

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Don’t Get Cross – Men Like To Dress As We Do

Don’t Get Cross – Men Like To Dress As We Do

It all started with a casual ‘aside’ to a male friend of mine, with whom I am in a ‘friend without benefits’ sort of relationship. I knew he wasn’t gay but he was the sort of bloke a girl likes to take shopping for clothes on occasion, as he gives an honest appraisal of an outfit.

So I was telling him about a ‘clothes swap’ taking place in my square in South London, and how we drink copious amounts of wine and eat lots of food and then pile the wears on the floor and try on each other’s clothes in front of a long mirror. A really healthy enjoyable gathering of female friends, and coming home at the end of the day with new gear and a new lease of life. A ritualistic meeting in my book, and my friend agreed, and said how envious he was and wanted to be at the next one.

Without any probing he then went on to tell me that he enjoyed dressing in women’s clothes, but insisted it stopped there. I was fascinated as I had known him for some time, and he then went on to tell me that it is more popular than we imagine.

I was a little surprised, but my mind went back to a neighbour some twenty or so years ago who was married to a well known rock star, who frequently wore her clothes around the house. I am not going to spill the beans on who it was, but let me tell you she was not in the slightest bit fazed by his behaviour, and even encouraged it as they would end up having great sex and she said she would prefer it be with her than some willing groupie, who would no doubt agree to do anything he asked for.

Another experience I had was when I shared a flat with two males when studying Drama at Performing Arts School. One of the students would go out at night dressed from head to toe in women’s clothes plus makeup. It took a while for us to find it out, as initially he did it in secret, but my other flat mate discovered it first. Then Rob (cover name) got bolder and bolder, and ended up walking into the lounge fully clad one Sunday afternoon to say ‘Hello’ to both of us. By that time we both knew and treated it as if it were a completely normal occurrence, so our friend remained cool and continued to cross-dress and apparently still does.


I did actually see him on a TV show wearing women’s clothes some years later, so it had obviously become the norm for him by then.

I also enjoyed both Tootsie with Dustin Hoffman and also the late Robin Williams in Mrs Doubtfire – not particularly because of the cross dressing, but because it seemed so natural to both male actors who carried it off superbly. But as far back as the early fifties in ‘Some Like It Hot’ starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis dress up in women’s clothes as as disguise to escape from their predicament.


Crossdressing has even been part of storylines in soap operas, who can forget Les & Pam’s story in Eastenders. Whilst Pam was shocked at first she learned to accept Les.

I am quite certain that the majority of us will have someone in our circle of male friends who either is a cross-dresser or knows someone who loves to wear women’s clothes.

I personally think it amazing that we have come so far and would encourage all of us to embrace it to the full.   By the way, my friend is coming to the next clothes swap.


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Memoirs Of A Bad Girl – The Legacy Unfolds

Memoirs Of A Bad Girl – The Legacy Unfolds

How many times do we hear of women hanging their lives on men who cheat on them or inflict abuse them physically or mentally. Such is the lot of women, or so we are led to believe in novels, movies and some of the more tacky tabloids.

But come on ladies, let’s stop being victims and take look at the ‘bad girls’ throughout history who have ensnarled men by our wily means, only to entrap and then devour them. Similar in style to the black widow spider who entices the male into the web, has her wicked way with him and then mercilessly kills and kicks him out.

Men too are addicted to bad behaviour, and the old adage ‘treat em mean keep em keen’ also applies to us.

A recent television series The Affair depicted a seemingly helpless female working as a waitress in a café, played by the charismatic Ruth Wilson, who cleverly entices a formerly happy married man away from his wife and three kids to embark on a liaison dangereuse which ultimately destroys all of their lives.

The manipulative Anne Baxter in the old movie All About Eve with Bette Davies, when she sets out to usurp her best friend’s career and relationship with her divisive plans to destroy her marriage and entice her husband into her bed.

Cleopatra was a great example of female power and entrapment, managing to seduce and win the most powerful man on the Planet at that time, Mark Anthony. Following Caesar’s assassination, Mark Antony had reached the heights of power. But he completely neglected his empire for a life of decadent seduction with his mistress, Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. Torn between love and duty, Antony’s military brilliance deserted him, and his passion lead both to their tragic end.

We have seen it within our own Royal family within the last Century, with the alluring Wallis Simpson, who completely captivated the heart of the late King Edward VI, causing him to abdicate the thrown as he couldn’t live without her. Rumour has it that this was the last thing on her agenda, but had to play it out after his legendary speech addressing a nation was broadcast to the World.

I have it in my own circle of friends, where one lady constantly has the upper hand, and endlessly taunts her tolerant husband who willingly goes along with all of her demands, and I sometimes cringe as she cracks the whip on her devoted partner. But he is besotted and even appears to enjoy it!

Sometimes we have to cut the victim talk and examine our own power to attract and ultimately destroy the opposite sex – it is not all down to men and certainly not all one sided. I rest my case.

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