ON a September night in war torn Holland Nazi troops stalked a creche counting Jewish children to be sent to concentration camps.

Among those at the centre was six-year-old Ruth Lachs, whose heart-rending story had already seen her torn from her home and separated from her parents.

Thanks to a remarkable feat of courage, Ruth found herself hiding in a sandpit and in dead silence avoided detection ­— an act which saved her life.

Mrs Lachs, now lives in Prestwich with her husband and fellow survivor, Werner. The couple regularly recount their experiences.

Mrs Lachs said: “My life was saved by good people who chose to be brave and heroic at a time when it would have been so much easier and so much safer to turn away.”

Born the daughter of a businessman in Hamburg, Germany, in March 1936, Ruth’s first years were happy and typically Jewish.

But on November 9, 1938, the family’s lives were turned upside down after Kristallnacht when hundreds of synagogues and thousands of Jewish businesses were destroyed or damaged, dozens of Jews were killed and tens of thousands rounded up and put in camps.

Mrs Lachs said: “People thought it could never happen in Germany but when they watched their synagogues being burnt to the ground and the men being marched away to concentration camps it was a wake up call.”

Her father moved the family to the Netherlands. The family were forbidden to take any of their possessions when they left and her father was forced to sell his business for a nominal amount of money. They arrived in Amsterdam with only the clothes they could carry and a small amount of cash. But after the Nazis invaded, Ruth and her family were once again in peril and persecuted.

“Daily freedoms which were once taken for granted were snatched away and our lives became a misery,” she recalled.

By 1942 rumours had begun to circulate of Jews being rounded up and transferred to a transit camp and ultimately onto death and slave labour camps.

Ruth’s father turned their attic rooms into bedrooms and at night the family hid, hoping the Germans would think the flat was empty.

As more and more people were rounded up, the family were once again forced to flee, seeking the help of a neighbour ­— a member of the Underground Workers, who helped Jews to find safety.

Ruth, then aged six, and her brother were separated from their parents and placed with a foster family ­— a kind-hearted couple who treated them as if they were their own children.

To obscure her Jewish heritage Ruth changed her name to Rudy Klein and pretended to have been orphaned.

But in September 1943, after they were denounced by Dutch Nazi sympathisers, German troops knocked on their door and Ruth, her brother and foster mother were arrested and interrogated.

The two children were taken to a creche, while their foster mother was later released.

In what Ruth calls “an extraordinary twist of fate” the children’s former nanny was working at the creche and took extra care of them, ultimately saving Ruth’s life.

Each night Nazi troops came to count the children for deportation. But Ruth’s nanny told her to dress quickly and hide in the sandpit.

She recalled: “My nanny promised she would return for me if I stayed still and kept quiet. It was very dark as I crouched in the corner and I was shivering with the cold. She was true to her word, and as soon as the Germans had left she came back for me.”

Following her escape Ruth was aided by a clandestine group of Dutch students who protected Jews from being sent to the death camps,

She was taken to the south of Holland and placed with a Christian family. Her brother, who had contracted polio was forced to stay behind.

Just a week later Ruth contracted polio and needed hospital treatment. But without identity papers she was again in grave danger. However, she was saved by the courageous medical director of the hospital, who saw that she was treated secretly, and after her discharge she was returned to Amsterdam by the underground student movement.

There she was placed in a home for disabled children, whose heroic matron hid a number of Jewish children.

After the war ended Ruth was reunited with her parents, who had survived in hiding, with help from the Red Cross. Tragically her brother had been taken to Auschwitz where he had died, aged just three.

The remaining family stayed in The Netherlands until the death of Ruth’s father, then they moved to England.

Ruth said: “Looking back I never forget where I would have been without the bravery of those who helped me. Those who were courageous in the face of terror. Thanks to them I sit here now, a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother. My family are the legacy of my extraordinary survivaland of the ordinary people who chose to do good though they were surrounded by evil.”

“Just as we must never forget the horrors of the Holocaust or the six million who were murdered by the Nazis, so we must remember that there were those who gave life and hope. I thank them today and always for my survival.”