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Refugee girls at the de Monbrison chateau in France

Film | Accession Number: 2011.350.1 | RG Number: RG-60.1339 | Film ID: 2935

Refugee girls living at a chateau owned by Count Hubert Conquere de Monbrison in Quincy-sous-Senart, located about 30 km south of Paris. De Monbrison and the Princess Irena Paley (a niece of the last Russian czar who later became Monbrison's wife) used the chateau to house refugee girls from the Russian and Spanish civil wars. In 1939 de Monbrison was approached by his children's Jewish physician, who was a member of the board of the OSE, and asked whether he would take in a group of forty German Jewish refugee children. The count agreed and the Kinderstransport of boys arrived on July 4, 1939 (see footage of their arrival in Story 1340). Quincy served as a Jewish children's home until September 1940 when, following the German occupation of France, the chateau was requisitioned by the German army. The boys were then relocated to other OSE homes.

An older man standing outdoors displays his pocket watch, which reads 7:00. He is either the caretaker of the chateau or the gardener, Monsieur Henri. He walks over and pulls on a rope that rings a bell overhead. A dog barks as the bell rings. Several shots of different girls lying in bed and acting as if they are reluctantly awakening. These are probably the Russian girls. Some play fight with others, not wanting to get up. Pairs of slippers lie on the floor.

Other girls, younger than those pictured first, wake each other up. They sit up in bed, smiling. Two girls wash up at a sink and brush their teeth. A teddy bear rests on a neatly made bed. Out of focus shot of a woman dishing out soup to girls who sit around a table. They smile, talk, and eat happily. All of the girls wear matching navy blue dresses with white collars.

01:07:19 Out on the lawn, the dog barks. Girls exit the chateau and separate into two groups as they go down the stairs. Mademoiselle Richter, a White Russian woman who served as caretaker for the children, opens up double doors, steps outside, then goes back inside the chateau. Girls dressed in exercise clothes stretch and do various exercises in the grass. They do gymnastic moves and play leap frog.

Slow motion shots of girls high jumping over a string suspended between two posts. They land in a sandbox. Girls wearing identical navy blue dresses rake hay or straw into a large pile. Girls wearing blue gym uniforms pose for a group portrait.

01:12:14 Blue uniformed girls play a game of basketball against an opposing team who wear red and white uniforms. Girls from both teams pose for a group portrait. A man stands in the middle of their group. Girls walk across a lawn in swimsuits, robes and swimming caps. They get in the pool and some hesitate, seemingly getting used to the water temperature. Shots of girls playing, splashing, swimming and then getting out of the water.

Girls out of doors, dressed in traditional costume (White Russian?) and wearing wreaths of flowers with long ribbons hanging down. Two of the girls dance and one plays a tambourine while the rest of them sway to the music. In the next shot the girls join hands and dance in a circle. The girls laugh and smile at the camera, then pose for the camera on top of and in front of the pile of hay or straw. CU portraits of girls' faces, shot from below. They appear to be singing.

The girls, now wearing boots, pair up and one pair dances (seems to be a Russian dance) as the rest watch. The other girls join in. Several slow motion shots of them dancing on the basketball court.

01:19:54 Younger girls wearing blue gym uniforms line up on the basketball court. Each passes a ball between her legs to the person behind her. They sit down and stretch in unison, touching their toes. Slow motion shots of young men playing basketball. Girls, adult women, and a few men sit on the lawn and watch the game.

CUs of eleven different girls, shot from a low angle. Some look at the camera and smile and laugh while some look away. Girls in school uniforms hold hands and skip around a haystack while two girls stand on top of it. They all jump up and down, squat, spin, then run and jump on the pile of hay. They play and push each other over. Screen goes blue.

Event:  1939
Quincy-sous-Senart, France
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, gift of Christian de Monbrison
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 22:02:23
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