Unknown Story Of American Rescues Of Children Of The Holocaust

January 2014
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American Rescue Of Children Of The Holocaust: A Network Of Resistance And Cooperation

By Iris Posner 2013

The following was delivered by Iris Posner at YIVO, NYC Oct. 27, 2013

Haskel Tydor survived two concentration camps, lost his wife and most of his family. His two young children survived. They were sent to America and placed with foster parents. Manfred and Camilla were part of a relatively unknown rescue and resettlement operation that spanned oceans, operated more than a decade, and was made possible by a "network of cooperation" among private organizations and individuals.

After the war, Haskel remarried, had a third child, Judith, and emigrated to Israel. Judith, now Judith Baumel-Schwartz, a scholar of Jewish history and the Holocaust, holds several prestigious positions at Bar Ilan University in Israel. Our paths crossed in 2000 and changed my life.

Due to the size of the operation and press coverage, historians have long known about Britain's rescue of 10,000 unaccompanied children during the Holocaust known as the Kinderstransports; a rescue and resettlement operation significantly different from that which brought unaccompanied children to America, who have become known as the "One Thousand Children."

In 2000, the story of the Kindertransports, recounted in a documentary raised a question for me -- what had America done to rescue children during the Holocaust? An answer was in the book, "Unfulfilled Promise: Rescue and Resettlement of Jewish Refugee Children in the United States 1934 -1945." Its author was Judith Baumel. The operation that saved her brother and sister, became the subject of her Ph.D. thesis and a subsequent book. Published by Denali Press, its owner and editor was Alan Schorr, amazingly, one of my childhood friends and classmates. The book was the first and is still the only complete history of rescue and resettlement of the One Thousand Children.

Baumel's research confirmed without any doubt, that from 1933 to 1945 there was a Network of Cooperation based on written and informal agreements, personal relationships, interlocking boards, memoranda of understanding, and contracts, between private groups and with government entities, whose work resulted in the transport to America of approximately 1200 unaccompanied mostly Jewish children.

I thought, "Someone should should make a record of all their names." I proposed the project to my oldest friend, Lenore Moskowitz.

For Lenore and myself, what began as a seemingly simple task, became a seven year commitment, and for me, a full-time endeavor. With Judith Baumel-Schwartz our historian consultant, and the help other fellow unpaid volunteers, including tracer Adriana Sandler -- an organization was formed to research this history and make it available to the public, academia and OTC children and families.

First some definitions----

An "OTC child" is a child generally below the age 16, of Jewish background, including non-aryan christian children considered Jewish by the Nazis, in danger due to persecution, sent by their family from foreign countries to the US, to be placed with relatives or foster families until they could be reunited with their parents. The rescue and resettlement was usually arranged through the efforts, auspices and funding provided by private organizations and individuals in America and elsewhere.

"OTC rescuers" include formal organizations (sectarian and non-sectarian), funders (organizations and individuals), foster families, and individuals including ship and escape route escorts, and persons providing shelter to OTC children in cities and points of embarkation.

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from the January 2014 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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