After nearly eight decades have passed, dramatic new stories of the Holocaust survivors keep emerging. And Twice Rescued Child (published by SPCK in 2019) is another inspiring testament to triumph over adversity. It also echoes the truth of Romans 8:28: “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Thomas Graumann, who turns 90 this year, was finally persuaded by his family to record his memoirs, and so with the help of Tricia Goyer, penned his story. I pray it will bring untold blessings to many.
Thomas was born to a Jewish family in Czechoslovakia and was a beneficiary of the Kindertransport programme when, at only eight years old, he was put on a train at the Prague station as one of the 669 children rescued from the Nazis. This was all because of the extraordinary efforts of Sir Nicholas Winton, a British businessman who realised they were in great danger.
In his childlike innocence, Thomas perceived these early events as a great adventure, not realising that he would never see his parents again. Sadly they would die in the concentration camps, along with his younger brother Tony, who was too ill to travel with him.
But for Thomas it certainly was an adventure that would eventually take him around the world. Unlike most of the children accompanying him, who got off in London, Thomas travelled on to the north of Scotland, where he was taken in by kind Christians.
Within a year he had made his own personal commitment to Christ, and while still a young boy, he felt called to be a missionary and nurse. In time, he was taken on by the Overseas Missionary Fellowship whom he served in the Philippines for some years, reaching tribes living in remote areas of the rainforest.
When he learnt that single men were preferred in his vocation, in light of the harsh conditions they would work in, Thomas resigned himself to a life of solitude. That was until he realised he needed a wife. Not only did he need someone to help him with daily tasks, but in order for him to fit into the surrounding culture, where men weren’t expected to perform household chores, he needed someone who could help when he needed to cook or fetch the water.
He finally fell for a fellow missionary from America, and when they couldn’t conceive after several years, they had tests done which showed that they were both infertile. However, as with Abraham and Sarah, Caroline believed God had promised them children. They then decided to adopt two, after which they had the delightful surprise when Caroline gave birth to two children of their own.
The conditions on the mission field did not always suit their health, and they lived in America for some years while the children were growing up. Thomas eventually returned to his native country, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia) where he taught English for many years while also working with local churches in the community.
It was only at this stage he made the astonishing discovery that his mother had stated, in her will, that if she did not return from the concentration camp, “she desired that Tony and I should be brought up in an evangelical family.” She actually wanted Thomas to be trained as a preacher and Tony as an engineer. “Maybe she too had come to faith in Christ,” Thomas wondered.
Though you can get a little lost in the detail at times, this is a wonderful record of a life that was doubly blessed — by being snatched from the deadly grasp of the Nazis and delivered into the loving arms of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s the Gospel of Thomas (not the original one, of course) and it’s an inspiring read!