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Ruth H. Windmuller papers

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2000.187

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    Ruth H. Windmuller papers

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    The Ruth H. Windmuller papers primarily consist of song lyrics and poems written by children at the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants children’s homes Villa Helvetia at Montmorency and Château Montintin near Château‐Chervix. The collection also includes a program for a children’s performance at Villa Helvetia, and a clipping and a flyer documenting two children Windmuller knew at Montmorency or Montintin.
    The lyrics and poems are set to well‐known children’s songs and use clever words and rhymes to describe staff, events, activities, work, and recreation at the children’s homes at Villa Helvetia, Les Tourelles, Eaubonne, and Château Montintin; the difficult planning required to emigrate; and the children’s efforts to learn English. The notebook of song lyrics also includes a postcard of Villa Helvetia, a drawing of Château Montintin with a note to Windmuller on the back, her Château Montintin youth club membership card, and a couple of drawings. The program documents an April 1940 children’s performance at a school in Eaubonne entitled “Cirque Supermedrano, le plus grand du monde,” referenced by Windmuller on the second page of her notebook. The clipping, ''The Boy Who Survived Auschwitz,'' describes Ernst Koppel (using the name Emil Geisler), a former resident of Villa Helvetia who survived Auschwitz. The art gallery flyer documents Henny Marks (Henny Bienstock), another former resident of OSE children’s homes whom Ruth Windmuller remembered.
    inclusive:  1939-1967
    Collection Creator
    Ruth H. Windmuller
    Ruth H. Windmuller (b. 1925) was born in Nordhausen am Harz, Germany, to Bruno (b. 1882) and Selly (Grete, b. 1890) Heilbrun. Her father owned a department store, Kaufhaus Heilbrun, and she had two older brothers, Kurt (b. 1913) and Hans (b. 1917). In May 1939 the family sailed on the MS St. Louis to Havana. After the ship was forced to return to Europe, the family was offered refuge in France. Ruth was placed in Villa Helvetia, a children's home run by the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE) in Montmorency and transferred to Montinin in 1940. Her parents settled temporarily in Le Mans and then in Perigeux, and Bruno Heilbrun was detained for part of the time in Gurs. In the spring of 1942 the family received visas for the United States. Ruth joined her parents in Marseilles, and the family proceeded to Casablanca to board the SS Serpa Pinto for New York. In 1947 Ruth married Hans (John) Windmuller, a fellow passenger on the MS St. Louis. Ruth's oldest brother Kurt, who did not travel with the family on the St. Louis, was killed during the war in Zagreb while trying to get to Palestine.

    Physical Details

    German English French
    4 folders
    1 oversize folder
    System of Arrangement
    The Ruth H. Windmuller papers are arranged as a single series: I. Ruth H. Windmuller papers, 1939-1967

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    The donor, source institution, or a third party has asserted copyright over some or all of these material(s). The Museum does not own the copyright for the material and does not have authority to authorize use. For permission, please contact the rights holder(s).

    Keywords & Subjects

    Corporate Name
    World Union OSE

    Administrative Notes

    Ruth H. Windmuller donated the Ruth H. Windmuller papers to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2000.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this collection has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-28 09:14:57
    This page:

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