The date of March 25, 1989 has been chosen for the reunion [of OSE children] because March 1939 was the month, 50 years ago when most of the children were forced to leave their parents and/or homes in Austria and Germany because of Nazi persecution. March was also the month in 1939 when most of the children first made contact in an OSE home in France, followed several months later by the arrival of the "St. Louis" Children.
March 1939 - Several transports with Jewish children left Vienna, Berlin, Frankfurt and other locations in Germany for France. After short stopovers at Rothschild facilities, most children were brought to the first OSE home, VILLA HELVETIA in Montmorency, about 10 miles north of Paris. Other refugee children arrived there either on their own or brought by relatives.
May 1939 - By May of 1939 the numbers of refugee children in Montmorency had swelled to more than 200. The childrens ages and backgrounds were quite diverse. In all cases, however, the children could no longer be with their parents because the parents were either in concentration camps, interment camps, had been killed, shipped to Poland, or due to a variety of other similar problems related to Nazi persecution.
June 1939 - A second OSE home was opened for orthodox children at the VILLA LA CHESNAIE (the Oaks) in EAUBONNE about 2 miles from Montmorency and more than 50 orthodox children were transferred from Montmorency to Eaubonne. Another fifteen children arrived in Eaubonne over the next few months, and all lived there until the German armies closed in on Paris in June of 1940.
August 1939 - Thirty-five children, who had been on the ship St. Louis which had taken Jewish refugees to Cuba, only to be denied entry, were accepted by France when the OSE guaranteed taking care of them. While the French interned all the adults, the children came to stay, temporarily, at Eaubonne and Montmorency, until their permanent home became available at the TOURELLES in SOISY, about half way between Eaubonne and Montmorency. Along with the children from the St. Louis most of the older children were transferred to the Tourelles where they stayed until June 1940.
June 1940 - With the German army close to Paris all three homes (Montmorency, Eaubonne and Soisy) were evacuated. Most of the children were sent to (what became) Vichy France, to other homes opened by the OSE. These homes included:
MONTINTIN/CHEVRETTE near Limoges
CHATEAU DES MORELLES at Brout Vernet near Vichy
MASGELLIER near Limoges
(Click here for a listing of other OSE homes.)
June-September 1941 - During this period three transports brought close to 200 children from the OSE homes to the U.S. while a few others came here separately or with family.
The transports were sponsored by the United States Committee for the care of European Children (chaired by Marshall Fields), The Jewish Childrens Aid, Inc. and assisted by the American Friends (Quakers) Service Committee in Marseilles. With French ports on the Atlantic occupied by the Germans, the children traveled via Marseilles through Spain to Lisbon, Portugal, where they embarked on Portuguese ships for the United States.
The first transport on the S.S. Mouzinho arrived in New York on June 21,1941, the second on September 1, 1941, followed a few weeks later by the third transport on the Serpa Pinta,
Of the children left behind in France, some of the survivors came to the U.S. or Israel after the war, while some remained in Europe.
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