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Norbert Bikales photographs

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2000.247

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    Norbert Bikales photographs

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    The Nobert Bikales photographs depict Bikales and other children rescued and hidden in France and sheltered in Switzerland during the Holocaust at children's homes including at Chabannes, Fursac, and the Hôme de la Forêt in Geneva, Some of the children are identified on the backs of some of the photographs. The collection also includes a postcard depicting the Chateau de Quincy-sous-Sénart.
    inclusive:  1939-1946
    Collection Creator
    Norbert Bikales
    Norbert Bikales was born in 1929 in Berlin to textile merchant Salomon Bikales from Lwów, Poland (Lviv, Ukraine) and Bertha Bikales from Borysław, Poland (Boryslav, Ukraine). Norbert’s older brother Richard was born in 1921. On October 28, 1938, Salomon and Richard were deported to Poland along with other Jews of Polish origin. Salomon was allowed briefly to return to Germany in the spring of 1939 to "liquidate" his assets, but Richard was not permitted to join him. Salomon and Bertha sold their merchandise at distress prices, packed up the family’s belongings and shipped them to America in the hope of getting visas. Salomon and Bertha were forced to leave Germany again and joined Richard in Lwów. They expected to be reunited with Norbert as soon as the family received American visas. On July 3, 1939, Norbert joined a transport of about 40 children, many of whom had been in the Auerbach orphanage, from Berlin to Paris. Norbert was taken to a children’s home in Quincy-sous-Sénart, about 30 km southeast of Paris, that was sponsored by the Count de Monbrison and loosely affiliated with the OSE. In September 1940, after the German occupation of northern France, Norbert was transferred to an orphanage in Paris supported by the Rothschild Foundation, and he was transferred to the OSE children’s home in Chabannes in April 1941. When the home was threatened by the ongoing deportations, the children were dispersed for safety, and Norbert was sent to a hotel in Chambery in April 1943 in the Italian zone of occupation. After the German invasion of the Italian zone, the children were smuggled over the Swiss Alps in small groups. Norbert and two other children crossed the border on September 16, 1943, were arrested by Swiss border guards near Martigny, and locked in jail. The guards were uncertain what to do, so after a few days the children were taken to a monastery and locked in the abbot’s room while their fate was being determined. They were then moved to refugee camps in Lausanne and, later, Les Avants near Montreux. In December 1943, Norbert was transferred to a children’s home in Speicher sponsored by the Swiss Council for Refugees. He was sent to the OSE Hôme de la Forêt in Geneva in April 1944, where he stayed until July 1946. After the end of the war, Norbert learned through the International Red Cross that his brother Richard had survived. Richard had escaped from the Janowska concentration camp and had survived the war in hiding along with his wife Charlotte whom he married in May 1940. The two brothers corresponded for the next several months until they were able to reunite on Norbert’s seventeenth birthday, January 7, 1946. Richard was living in Austria and unable to cross into Switzerland, and Norbert was not given permission to enter Austria, so the two brothers met on the border. Norbert learned that his parents had perished in Belzec in March 1942. In July 1946, Norbert finally obtained a visa and flew to New York where Bertha’s brother greeted him. He married Holocaust survivor Gerda Bierzonski.

    Physical Details

    English German
    1 folder
    System of Arrangement
    The Nobert Bikales photographs are arranged as a single series.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Bikales, Norbert.

    Administrative Notes

    Norbert Bikales donated his photographs to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in July 2000.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 13:58:50
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