| **IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: OTC is proud to announce that YIVO, at the Center for Jewish History in New York City, is now the repository of the One Thousand Children Archival Collection, the only collection of its kind in the world holding original materials donated by One Thousand Children, Inc. and numerous individual OTC children. You can read more about all of YIVO's Collections at WWW.YIVO.ORG.
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** NOW AVAILABLE -- CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE FIRST BOOK PUBLISHED ABOUT THE LIFE AND WORK OF CECILIA RAZOVSKY - THE AMERICAN HEROINE AT THE CENTER OF THE "NETWORK OF COOPERATION" THAT RESCUED THE ONE THOUSAND CHILDREN
** CLICK HERE FOR IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR OTC CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES
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**CONTACT OTC: EMAIL -- firstname.lastname@example.org
TELE -- 732-572-0036
WRITE -- Henry Frankel, President
One Thousand Children
10 Ryan Road Edison, NJ 08817
BACKGROUND: The film documentary, "Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport," and other similar films and related books, have successfully raised the awareness of the public regarding the plight and rescue by Great Britain of almost ten thousand unaccompanied children during the Holocaust. By comparison, there is no such public familiarity with the experiences of children threatened by Nazi persecution who were brought by a variety of organizations and individuals to America before and during WWII. These children were part of one of the most triumphant and tragic stories of the twentieth century - the rescue and placement in foster homes and in other facilities across America of approximately 1,000 unaccompanied Jewish children while a generation of 1,500,000 children perished in the Holocaust.
An operation, quietly carried out because of fear that a backlash from isolationist and anti-Semitic forces could cause its demise, the "underground railroad" these children traveled to safety spanned three continents and two oceans, was fueled by donations of ordinary people and the work of hundreds of volunteers and ran for almost eleven years. Yet, mention of it will not be found in American history books. Museums and memorials do not celebrate the lives of these children and the individuals and organizations who rescued them. There are no movies about it. Its heros are not heralded and its villains not reproved. Few Americans know of it and only one scholar has studied and written about the subject. Most of the 1,000 children themselves are unaware they were part of the organized efforts of a NETWORK OF COOPERATION of private American citizens and organizations between 1934 and 1945 to bring to America as many endangered children as possible, nor, that this was accomplished in the face of powerful economic, social, political, religious and governmental constraints that had such a devastating outcome for the eleven million people who perished in the Holocaust
OTC MISSION: OTC is a non-profit and tax exempt 501(c)(3) corporation staffed entirely by unpaid volunteers. OTC's primary mission is to 1) document the experiences of people who came to the U.S. as children between 1934 and 1945 to escape persecution and genocide and stayed with foster families and in other facilities across America and 2) honor the individuals and organizations who were part of the three continent network of cooperation that made the rescues possible.
SELECTED OTC ACTIVITIES: 1) Locate and communicate with surviving OTC children; 2) Conduct and support research related to OTC child rescue and resettlement; 3) Produce documentaries and other educational media; 4) Publish scholarly works, memoirs and other informative materials; 5) Support an interactive web site; 6) Organize and support OTC Reunions; 7) Organize and support traveling exhibitions to be shown at museums and other relevant organizations; 8) Assist OTC children to find and communicate with each other; and, 9) Organize and support an OTC Speakers Bureau.
PRESIDENT, Henry Frankel
STAFF VOLUNTEERS: All OTC staff and officers are unpaid volunteers who donate their time and talents.
OTC THANKS AND IS PROUD TO BE WORKING WITH THE NEW YORK CIRCLE OF TRANSLATORS WHICH HAS PROVIDED TRANSLATION SERVICES TO OTC.
OTC accepts services and financial support all of which are used to carry out our educational and research mission.
"ONE THOUSAND CHILDREN" IS REGISTERED IN THE U.S. PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE
IF YOU ARE AN "OTC CHILD" THIS WEBSITE HAS SPECIAL INFORMATION FOR YOU Click here to go to "FOR OTC CHILDREN"
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To read about similar successful efforts to rescue unaccompanied children during the Holocaust by Great Britain, visit the website http://www.kindertransport.org
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER MAY 8, 2003
Those Saved from Nazis Honor Hero
Brith Sholom and other Efforts Removed about 1,200 Jewish Children from the Reach of Hitler.
By Christine Schiavo
Inquirer Staff Writer
Reprinted with Permission from The Philadelphia Inquirer
Clutching a teddy bear, a packed lunch, and a small suitcase, 8-year-old Helga Weiss begged her parents to let her stay with them in Nazi-occupied Austria. "I don't want to go," she cried. "I want to stay and die with you." No," her mother said adamantly. "Be a good girl and don't cry. We'll see each other soon."
As the train pulled into the station in Vienna, Helga fought back tears. Her mother kissed her cheek and tried to be reassuring. "She said 'Auf wiedersehen,' which means, 'see you again,' Helga Weiss Milberg recalled. "But I never saw her again."
Milberg, now 72, and living in Tucson, Ariz., was among 11 of the 50 so-called Brith Sholom children who reunited Saturday in Philadelphia to honor the group and particularly the man they credit with saving their lives. Brith Sholom's effort was one of the largest and earliest of America's little-known children transports, which removed about 1,200 Jewish children from Hitler's reach. Led by Gilbert Kraus, a lawyer who practiced in Philadelphia and Doylestown, and his wife, Eleanor, Brith Sholom's 1939 rescue of Austrian Jewish children was unknown for decades beyond the families of those involved.
Though Great Britain's efforts to save 10,000 Jewish children attracted worldwide attention, efforts here went largely unnoticed. In fact, they went mostly unchronicled until Israeli historian Judith Baumel published a book on the subject in 1990. Even at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, the escape of children to the United States is absent from the permanent exhibition.
Two Maryland researchers are committed to changing that. Iris Posner and Lenore Moskowitz started a nonprofit, One Thousand Children Inc., in 2000 to document the stories of those rescued. "This is a virtually unknown story," said Posner, the organization's president. "It is even unknown among the children themselves."
Unlike in Great Britain, where Kindertransport was backed by the government, children rescued through the United States were brought here privately and under strict immigrationlaws, Posner said. Great Britain's effort spanned two years, but the effort to bring children here spanned more than a decade, from 1934 to 1945, she said. In that time, dozens of Jewish organizations and others, such as Quakers and Unitarians, raised money to ship 1,253 Jewish children from Europe to the United States. Ranging from 14 months to 16 years old, the children - most of whom lost at least one parent - were brought to live with Jewish families until they could be reunited with relatives. Posner believes that about 800 of those rescued are still living. She and Moskowitz have located more than 450 and organized a reunion of the "children" in Chicago last summer. The women are chronicling the stories in a book that they hope to publish next year. "The real story very well may be the rescuers and the organizations who had to fight the most vehement anti-Semitism this country has ever known," Posner said.
Among those rescuers were the Krauses, who interviewed 600 or so children who responded to a newspaper advertisement to emigrate to America. Accompanied by a pediatrician and atleast one nurse, the Krauses picked children who were healthy and deemed able to be separated from their parents for an extended period. Most of those selected had parents who had already applied for visas.
Kurt Herman's parents had been trying to get out of Austria since Germany annexed it in March 1938. Their effort became urgent in November of that year when Hitler's plan becameapparent with Kristallnacht, a campaign of violence against Jews and vandalism of their property. After that, Jewish children were segregated. Former playmates starting calling Kurt, 8, names and sporting swastika armbands.
"I wasn't able to play anymore," he said. "I was to go to school and go home. There was no more fun." Men were being plucked off the streets by the Nazis with their families left to wonder about their whereabouts. Knowing he wasn't safe in Austria, Herman's father set out with Herman's maternal grandparents for Cuba. But they were denied access and later landed in France. Like Helga, Kurt knew his and his mother's lives depended on the Brith Sholom interview. He jumped for joy at being selected, but parting from his mother was painful. "We made a point to say, 'Don't worry, we're going to see each other soon.' I didn't see my mother cry, but I was crying," Herman said. He went to live with a foster family in Allentown. Within two years, he was reunited with his parents there. His grandparents, however, had been killed at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. A retired financial officer, Herman, of Philadelphia, has three daughters and eight grandchildren. He credits the Krauses with saving his family.
It's said that Gilbert Kraus secured 50 unused American visas through the help of his influential friend, Francis Biddle, who two years later became U.S. attorney general. He chose 25 boys and 25 girls. He and his wife had a boy and girl of their own and took in two of the Brith Sholom children. Gilbert Kraus was 41 at the time of his trip to Austria. During his career, he was a partner in a Philadelphia law firm and vice president of the now-defunct Philadelphia Record newspaper. In Bucks County, he was a member of a committee of lawyers that represented poor people pro bono in a precursor to the Legal Aid Society. An accomplished artist and pianist, he retired to a farm in Furlong, Bucks County. He died in Philadelphia in 1975. Eleanor Kraus died in 1989.
Milberg said she grew close to the Krauses aboard the ship that brought her here. In a 1945 letter signed "Uncle Gilbert," Kraus gave her fatherly advice about her studies and added: "I have great hopes for you because you have always been a child who was very ambitious and very talented." Milberg married, taught music and early-childhood education, and still volunteers for a number of organizations. She and her husband, Morton, have three sons and four grandchildren. Her father spent time in the Dachau work camp in Germany before making his way through Italy to the United States in 1940. He died of a blood clot in Detroit in 1952 after slipping on ice. Her sister, eight years her senior, waited out the war in what is now Israel and still lives there. Milberg's mother, Rosza, went into hiding and was last in touch with her family in 1941. She died in the Sobibor concentration camp in Poland in June 1942, shortly after her 42d birthday. "If I had been mature enough and smart enough, I would have asked Mr. and Mrs. Kraus to help my parents get out," Millberg said, racked with guilt. "If I had been a smart girl, I would have done something."
Contact staff writer Christine Schiavo at 215-348-0337 or email@example.com.
© 2003 Philadelphia Inquirer and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
BELOW YOU CAN READ AN ARTICLE ABOUT THE FIRST EVER PUBLIC CEREMONY HONORING OTC CHILDREN AND THEIR RESCUERS AND THE TRANSCRIPT OF A CNN STORY ABOUT OTC CHILDREN
ATLANTA INTOWN BUCKHEAD EDITION
Benjamin Hirsch Searches for His Past
One of "One Thousand Children" Rescued from the Holocaust
By Jessica Handler
(article used with persmission of the author and publisher)
Ben Hirsch has the tenacious traits of a good detective. He has a courtly, old fashioned demeanor and relishes a good laugh, but his wit belies an unshakeable seriousness of purpose. The Atlanta architect, designer of more than 100 buildings, including the Holocaust gallery at the William Breman Heritage Museum, synagogues Or Ve Shalom and Etz Chaim and the Brookhaven Christian Church, wants desperately to fill in the blanks in his own childhood.
Hirsch, 70, is one of more than 1000 European children who came to America as refugees during World War II. They traveled unaccompanied, brought by a loose web of private rescue organizations determined to save them from certain death at the hands of the Nazis. All traveled without their parents, and few ever saw them again. Hirsch is a "child survivor" of the Holocaust.
His search to piece together fragments of his childhood and others like his is never far from his thoughts. Poring through volumes of documents that crowd his office shelving, he extracts a copy of "Out of the Fire" by rescue leader Dr. Ernst Papanek. He has circled black and white images of his brothers in a group shot on the back cover. The inside flap bears the inscription "lest you forget from whence you came," a reminder from his sister Flora. "I am still looking for pictures of me," he said mildly. "Any verification I get that I exist fills a void."
According to "One Thousand Children," a non-profit organization in Silver Spring, Maryland, established to promote research and education about the rescue by Americans of unaccompanied children during the Holocaust, stories like Hirsch’s are some of the most triumphant and tragic episodes in the 20th century. War, politics and beaurocracy thwarted the best efforts of many social service groups in the U.S., and only a fraction of the million children killed in Europe arrived on America’s shores. "Part of [Hitler's] final solution was to destroy Jewish children so that the Jewish culture and religion could be ended forever," said Iris Posner, One Thousand Children's co-founder
The tragedy is in those deaths -- the triumph is in the success many refugee children found as adults—becoming a Nobel Prize winner, an ambassador, authors, scientists, and loving parents. Posner, who is not a Holocaust survivor, launched One Thousand Children in 2000 after watching the documentary "Into the Arms of Strangers" about Britain’s rescue of more than 10,000 children during the Holocaust.
The professional researcher wondered why she had never encountered any information on American efforts to save children threatened by Hitler. A solid week of research at the archives of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum unearthed only one book on the topic. Working from the book’s bibliography and from records at institutes like the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, in New York, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, Posner and fellow volunteers compiled a list of names of the "one thousand children" who came to America without their parents, and were quietly dispersed across the country. Rescue operations were subdued, partially she says, for "fear of an anti-Semitic backlash here in America." Posner said that list of children, now adults in their 70s and 80s, totals more than 1200 names. Fewer than 500 have been located.
Hirsch’s journey began in 1938, when Nazis raided his parents’ home in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, during the anti-Jewish violence of Kristallnacht – the "night of broken glass." Threatening to shoot each of Mathilda Hirsch’s seven children before her eyes, they arrested Hermann Hirsch, Ben’s father. He later died in Auschwitz.
Mathilda Hirsch made the wrenching decision to send her five eldest children out of Germany. With his two older brothers and two older sisters, none older than 13, six year old Ben Hirsch boarded a train for Paris, heading for the care of relatives. It was the first stop on what became a long trip to safety. Mathilda stayed behind with Werner, 18 months, and six month old Roselene. Hirsch's older sblings were distraught, but Ben says he was too young to understand the gravity of the day. He never saw his parents or youngest siblings again. An Uncle later recounted Matilda's, Werner's and Roselene's certain deaths in Auschwitz.
When the Nazis approached France, the Hirsch children were put in the care of French social welfare agency Oeuvre des Secours aux Enfants (OSE). They traversed nine cities and as many orphanages (Ben remembers both drinking ink on a dare and plucking bugs from his food) until boarding the S.S. Mouzinho in Lisbon, Portugal and saiilng for New York. 40 children traveled the last miles to the ship under the cover of night to avoid spies. (Brothers Jack and Asher went in June, 1041, Ben, Sarah and Flora two months later.) Hirsch was a "forty three pound nine year old" when he arrived in New York. The first thing he wanted was bubble gum, a treat he had heard of but never tasted.
Using an address book that Mathilda had tucked into Asher’s coat, the Jewish Children’s Aid society contacted an uncle in San Francisco and a cousin in Rome, Georgia. Economically strapped new refugees themselves, neither was able to provide a home for the Hirsch children. The cousin in Rome, a rabbi, suggested that they stay in Atlanta, close enough so that he could visit. The five children grew up in a variety of Jewish foster homes in Atlanta, and Hirsch laughs now that after reading agency records, he sees that "I was not an easy child!"
He got in his share of schoolyard scrapes protecting his yarmulke, daily attire for an Orthodox Jew. "I came to this country and the only thing I had left was my Jewishness," he explained. Today, Hirsch continues to cover his head in deference to his faith, wearing a jaunty wool cap. His teen years at Atlanta’s Hoke Smith High School included pursuits like comic books, stamp collecting, and a sharp eye for cards.
The Georgia Tech graduate served in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict, volunteering in gratitude to the country that sheltered him. He remained close to his surviving siblings, but the search for the others never waned. He sought assignment to Germany hoping to find proof of their fate.
In 1965, Hirsch, married and father of two (he now has four grown children and 20 grandchildren) designed the "Memorial to the Six Million" at Greenwood Cemetery for the Holocaust survivor group Eternal Life Hemshech, for whom he later served 14 years as president. The monument’s high walls and narrow paths shelter memorial plaques. One inscription reads, "In memory of one million Jewish children, victims of the Nazi barbarism in Europe, 1939 – 1945." Jews traditionally pray at the gravesites of loved ones in the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Because Holocaust survivors don’t know where their loved ones are buried, the memorial has to suffice. "We go there and pray," he said. Anyone is welcome to attend.
More than three decades after it was built, the Memorial to the Six Million was the key that connected Posner to Hirsch. Searching the internet for clues about the people on her list, she found Hirsch in Atlanta. "You put Ben in Google and he comes up because he designed the Holocaust memorial, and he wrote a book," she said, referring to his memoir, "Hearing A Different Drummer: A Holocaust Survivor’s Search for Identity" (Mercer University Press, 2000.)
While most of the "children" contacted are surprised to know that they were part of an organized rescue effort, Hirsch is unusual in knowing much of his own story. "Some were so young they had no memory of it, and if their parents didn’t survive, no one is there to tell them," she observed. Hirsch shared his memories with One Thousand Children. "It gave us insight into what occurred at the time. We learned more about the operations and their effect on the children," said Posner. Hirsch attended the group’s first conference last summer in Chicago. He called it "amazing," heartened by seeing people making connections and sharing sometimes murky pasts. "I got a great feeling from the good it did.".
Key pieces are missing from Hirsch’s story, including how his family fared before their deaths. "It was about a year from the time [Mathilda, Werner and Roselene] were expelled from Frankfort and the time my uncle saw them at Auschwitz," he explained. Where and how, at the height of World War II, did they spend that year?
Hirsch’s detective instincts have been ignited on behalf of a stranger, too. He responded to an email from a woman in Louisiana asking for help from One Thousand Children’s members in tracing her true identity. "She’s desperate to find out who she is," Hirsch said. Her original papers were destroyed, and Hirsch has donated hours of his time tracking down any information he can. The fierce, former skinny nine year old boy comes out fighting when Hirsch considers the plight of the child survivor, a term he first heard at the "Hidden Child" conference in 1991, a gathering of Holocaust survivors who were children during World War II. (The conference is now a project of the Anti-Defamation League.) Mocking an insensitive adult, he scoffed, "you’re a child, what kind of memories could you have!"
Apparently, plenty. Hirsch, who takes every opportunity he can to educate people about the Holocaust, said "God has things he wants me to do." Hirsch wants his parents and siblings’ lives to have meant something. "There’s nothing left of them other than a memory."
APRIL 20, 2001
JEWISH CHILDREN SHIPPED TO SAFETY
By John Rivera
Remembrance: Five who were refugee children of the Holocaust tell the little-known story of America's role.
On Jan. 28, 1935, 13-year-old Erich Oppenheim stood before the congregation of his synagogue in the German town of Nentershausen on the day of his bar mitzvah and for the first time publicly read from the Torah. The next day, he and a younger brother boarded a ship for America to escape Nazi persecution, never to see their parents and two other brothers again. "Our father settled us in our cabin, blessed us for the last time and left," said a tearful Oppenheim, now 79. "I recall feeling sort of numb and lost."
Oppenheim was one of about 1,000 children clandestinely brought out of wartime Europe to America, where they lived with Jewish foster families. Their stories have largely gone untold, until now. For the last year, Iris Posner, of Silver Spring, has been documenting the stories of the children and the people who facilitated their rescue. Six million Jews - 1.5 million of them children - died at the hands of the Nazis. Posner's interest was piqued by the Academy Award winning-documentary "Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport," which recounts the rescue of more than 10,000 children to Great Britain. "That prompted me to ask the question, 'What was the American response?'" said Posner, who has worked as researcher for the National Institutes of Health.
She discovered that 1,000 children were brought into this country between 1934 and 1945 by Jewish relief agencies and found only one book that described it. The campaign was carried on quietly, with the children arriving here mostly in groups of less than 10, for fear that an isolationist and anti-Semitic backlash would bring it to a halt. "You will not find it in American history books and not in the Holocaust museums," she said. "It is our aim to put it into the history books and into the Holocaust museums."
Posner, along with fellow researcher Lenore Moskowitz, formed One Thousand Children Inc., a nonprofit corporation dedicated to identifying and locating the refugee children - now in their 70s and 80s - and documenting their journeys. Eventually, she hopes to stage a national reunion.
To commemorate Yom Hashoah, the Jewish community's annual remembrance of the Holocaust, five of the one-time child refugees gathered Wednesday to tell their stories at a first-of-its-kind service at Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah-Liberty Jewish Center, a synagogue in Greenspring.
Erika Danty, who now lives in Arlington, Va., left Germany at age 12 and settled with a family in New York. "My experience does not contain the deep pain and grief so many of our survivors endured, because I was one of the fortunate to be one of the children of the kindertransport," she said. Still, her family suffered. Her father had lost his job as a traveling salesman and then was diagnosed with cancer. He died in 1934. The situation in Freiburg deteriorated to such a degree that when her family saw an ad in a newspaper about foster family adoption in America, Danty applied and was accepted. "Little did I know this ad would save me from the agony of the concentration camps and possible death," Danty said. "My mother was glad I was accepted
but found it a hardship to let me go."
Michel Margosis was born in Belgium, but when it was attacked, his family fled to France where they hid at a farm in Marseille. When the Nazis seized France, they moved on to Spain. Margosis came to the United States in 1943 and was eventually reunited with his parents here. "I just wanted to say 'thank you' to this country for being so good and so generous to me," said Margosis, of Springfield, Va.
Trudy Turkel was 14 and living in Germany when her parents arranged for her to join the kindertransport. She traveled with a tennis racket, so if asked, she could say she was on holiday. Turkel boarded the S. S. Hamburg in October 1938 with eight other children, all of whom were seasick during the voyage on rough seas."Except for me," Turkel said. "I had a grand time." She recalls sailing into New York Harbor. "There was nothing more thrilling in the morning than seeing that Statue of Liberty there," said Turkel, now of Ellicott City. "To this day, when I see it, I remember the day I arrived."
Thea Lindauer also remembers the transport as a happy time, despite being separated from her family. She left Germany in 1934, arriving in the United States on Thanksgiving Day. "All I could think was, 'Oh, boy! I'll go to the United States, and I'll be in Hollywood!" she said. Lindauer was put on a train and taken to Illinois, where she was greeted by a doctor and his wife, who had a brand new Shirley Temple doll for her. She liked her foster family so much that she remained with them, even after her family arrived from Germany. Years later, Lindauer, now of Annapolis, admitted to feeling some guilt over her good fortune at having escaped the fate of the children who died and those who suffered in the concentration camps. "For a long time, it made it uncomfortable," she said. "Why wasn't I punished? Why didn't I have to go through that? I wasn't any more religious." For that reason, "I have dedicated my life to making it easier for people," she said.
Of the five Oppenheim children, three escaped Germany through the kindertransport programs - Erich came to America with his brother Manfred. Their sister Berta, now of Baltimore, was taken to England. But Erich Oppenheim felt anguish over the years. He recalls that he began receiving letters from his parents in 1938, three years after he arrived in America. "They were urging us to find someone to put up bond to bring them over," he said. "We could not find anyone. It was so upsetting to be so powerless. "After 1941, the letters stopped," he said. It would be nearly a quarter century before he could bring himself to recite kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, for his parents.
Copyright 2001, The Baltimore Sun
August 13, 2001
Reunion Will Honor Rescue of Young Jews
ELINOR J. BRECHER
In the vintage snapshot, the little girl who grew up to be Alice Shlevin wears a beret, a plaid dress, and a smile so appealing that it saved her from the Holocaust.
A Detroit-area woman, Carolyn Wolfstein Levin, saw the photo among hundreds of others at a New York relief agency and chose the German Jewish 12-year-old as her foster child.
Shlevin -- then Alice Doiny -- happily climbed aboard a French ocean liner bound for New York, too excited to wonder if she would ever see her parents again, but knowing this: ``I was going to strangers.'' It was early September 1937.
Now 76 and living in Tamarac, Shlevin was among a trickle of European children evacuated to the United States in an organized, though nameless, series of transports between 1934 and 1945.
Two social scientists in the Washington, D.C., area are planning a reunion next summer. Iris Posner and colleague Lenore Moskowitz believe they have identified all 1,200 children through records of various organizations.
They have interviewed 250, and estimate that 800 are still alive, some in South Florida.
The operation presaged the better-known kindertransports, which sent 10,000 European Jewish children to Great Britain after Kristallnacht, the November 1938 Nazi pogrom that telegraphed Hitler's ``final solution'' -- genocide.
HIAS, the 120-year-old Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which resettled the youngsters, provided a rich source of information: case files that included applicant questionnaires, biographies, medical histories, visa applications, identity papers issued by U.S. consulates abroad and group escorts' notes.
The researchers have established a website -- www.onethousandchildren.org -- to solicit more testimonies, and funding for a documentary film.
The rescue was legal, though secretive, in a time of tight immigration quotas and widespread anti-Semitism. Organizers ``tried very hard to keep it quiet because of fear of backlash,'' according to Posner.
The U.S.-based German Jewish Children's Aid Organization -- a coalition of Jewish foundations and nonprofits -- managed the rescue. As the Holocaust progressed, snuffing out the lives of one million Jewish children, Quakers joined the effort, including some non-Jewish youngsters in the transport.
The groups ranged from 11 to more than 100, according to Judith Baumel, 42, an American-born professor at Israel's Bar Ilan University, whose older half-brother and half-sister were among those sent.
Her doctoral dissertation, researched in the early 1980s and published in 1990 as a book titled Unfulfilled Promise, is the only comprehensive work on the subject.
``They're a success story,'' she says of the relocated children. ``They are 100 percent American adults, integrated completely into American life.''
In contrast, Baumel says, many Kindertransport children languished in British orphanages ``and were treated terribly.''
The nameless-transport children, ages 5 to 14, came in small groups escorted by women who made repeat trips. Shlevin, from Mannheim, remembers her escort as a German opera singer in her 20s who had lost her job because she was Jewish.
Baumel says the early transports brought children who had at least one parent in a concentration camp. Dispersed across the country after the voyage, few stayed in touch.
Alice Shlevin didn't realize until she got Posner's inquiry that anyone was looking for the children, or that so many others had taken a similar journey. She had been too young to understand that Depression-era isolationist politics had all but shut America's ``golden door'' to immigrants before World War II, yet she knew she was supposed to charm the Levins into also sponsoring her parents and older sister.
They did, enabling Hermann -- ``a big soccer player'' and tobacconist -- her mother, Margaret, and her sister, now Meta Levy of Margate, to flee soon after Hermann was arrested on Kristallnacht and sent to Germany's Dachau concentration camp for a week.
Shlevin can't give enough credit to the Levins -- Carolyn and her lawyer husband, A.J. Levin, the parents of a daughter and three sons (one of them former CNN Beirut bureau chief Jeremy Levin, held hostage in Lebanon for 11 months in 1984 and 1985).
She stays in touch with the Levins' daughter, Nancy Levin Edelstein, a Fort Lauderdale ceramics teacher two years her junior.
``I was taken off the boat to Mrs. Levin, and I'll never forget what she did. She said to me in German, `Don't call me Mother; call me Aunt Curly, because your mom and dad will be here soon.' I came on a mission to plead with these strangers to help my family, and I didn't have to say a word.''
They gave her everything an athletic preteen could want, from love to skating, horseback riding and tap-dancing lessons. They arranged an apartment and a job for Hermann Doiny.
Shlevin says their nurturing fortified her against subsequent heartaches, including the deaths of a son, a grandson and two husbands. She has been married to her third husband, David Shlevin, for nine years.
Siegfried Bodenheimer of Aventura was on one of the early transports, in 1934. The retired greeting-card plant manager and his wife, Ruth, raised two children in Brooklyn.
Born in Mannheim, he spent his early years in the town of Wiesloch. His father, who had a cigar factory, was imprisoned at Dachau during 1938 and early 1939.
``He bribed himself out,'' and the family fled on the war's eve, says Bodenheimer, now 80. ``The tough part was that we could have been here earlier, with a little cooperation from my very, very rich relatives.''
His long-dead aunts -- pearl heiresses -- were more than able to sponsor them, but unwilling.
``I had to go to Stuttgart to the [American] consulate and left in November. There were 14 in our group. I didn't know any of them.''
Others in the family believed, as did many of their Jewish countrymen, that Hitler's threats were fleeting. Weren't they an integral part of German society? Weren't they accepted?
``The relatives were so Germanized,'' Bodenheimer remembers. ``They said: `What are they going to do to us? We've been living here for all these years.' Those who had money were afraid they were going to lose something. They lost it all, including their lives.''
Bodenheimer spent a few days in a New York orphanage and four months on a farm in Zion, Ill., with other Jewish children awaiting family placement, before a Hungarian family in New York named Leichtman took him in for the next four years: ``The nicest people I've ever met.''
Bodenheimer graduated from New York's prestigious Stuyvesant High School, was drafted in 1943 and returned to Germany as a counterintelligence interpreter when the war ended.
He made one quick trip to Wiesloch then, and has returned twice since to check the family graves; the Nazis saw Jewish cemeteries as convenient rock quarries, uprooting monuments to be used as paving.
``I was amazed,'' Bodenheimer says. ``You could see where all the stones were turned over but put back.''
`I'll SEE YOU'
Not all the transported children were as fortunate as Bodenheimer and Shlevin. In fact, Iris Posner says, most lost one or both parents. That's what happened to Sonja Echt, born Sophie Speyer in the town of Guxhagen, 11 when she left her parents, sister and brother in February 1938. Only her sister survived.
Echt boarded the S.S. Manhattan in Hamburg with 16 other children. Nine days later, she was in Columbus, Ohio, with a financially strapped widow named Flora Kaufherr and her two daughters.
Kaufherr ``was so good-hearted that even though we didn't have much, every time someone came from Germany, they had their first meal at our house,'' says Echt, who turns 75 this month and works part time at the Miami Beach Senior Center.
``I insisted on going to Hebrew school,'' says the twice-widowed Sunny Isles Beach mother of four and grandmother of nine. ``The only thing my parents wanted was for me to keep kosher,'' which she still does.
She cries when she reads the inscription in German, reminding her to observe Jewish tradition, that her father, dry goods salesman Emanuel Speyer, penned in the Hebrew prayer book his daughter carried across the Atlantic.
``He knew he would never see me again. My mother said, `I'll see you.' Even when she was on her way to Auschwitz, she told my sister that.''
Her parents never knew that the same Columbus surgeon who had paid her way also had signed the immigration affidavits for them.
© 2001 The Miami Herald and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
Republished here with the permission of the Miami Herald. No further republication or redistribution is permitted without the written approval of the Miami Herald.
CNN COVERS OTC - TRANSCRIPT OF STORY FROM
CNN LIVE TODAY
Group Attempting to Document Effort to Save Jewish Children
Aired May 2, 2001 - 12:24 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: A look into history here: In 1941, 10,000 Jewish children were taken to England, saving them from the Holocaust. But few people know that more than 1,000 were brought to the United States.
LEON HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And now they are beginning to tell their stories. CNN's Skip Loescher has more for you. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
SKIP LOESCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): March, 1938: Hitler invades Austria. Fearing what they would do to Jewish families like themselves, Henry Birnbrey's parents sent him to the United States. He was 14 when he left home for good.
HENRY BIRNBREY, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: I can visualize my parents standing at the platform of the train station waving goodbye and probably figuring that they will never see me again, which they didn't.
LOESCHER: Art Kern left Austria a year later, taken alone to a children's home in France, and in 1940, to the United States. He was safe, but sad.
ART KERN, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: Until then, I lived a very happy life. I had a brother, had a family, had a very close family.
LOESCHER: In a Baltimore synagogue recently, Jews remembered those terrible days by hearing from some who were rescued from Nazi tyranny and came to the U.S.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My whole being was flooded with hurtful thoughts of my mother's struggle for survival. Her big, brown eyes were filled with tears as she gave me courage and assured me of the new life that was awaiting me in the new world.
LOESCHER: Beginning in 1934 and lasting 11 years, Jewish, Quaker and nonsectarian groups spirited more than 1,000, mostly Jewish, children out of Europe to live with foster parents in the United States with little or no help from Washington.
IRIS POSNER, ONE THOUSAND CHILDREN, INC: The fear of backlash because of anti-semitism, one of the things they had to do was to try and do this without making too much noise about it.
LOESCHER: So little noise was made that, until recently, few Americans even knew about this effort to save the children. (on camera): But a group known as 1,000 Children is searching for those who survived so their stories can be made a part of Jewish Holocaust remembrances and American history.
POSNER: As an American, and as a Jew, it's the right thing to do and we intend to do it.
LOESCHER: Skip Loescher, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)
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