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Oral history interview with Vivette Samuel

Oral History | Accession Number: 2014.542.30 | RG Number: RG-50.812.0030

Vivette Samuel (née Vivette Hermann), born in Paris, France on May 23, 1919, discusses the origins of OSE (OEuvre de secours aux enfants), including its creation, its purpose, the evolution of its purpose given conditions on the ground during WW2; her work with OSE, specifically her assignment beginning in 1941 to Rivesaltes; her OSE work after the war; being age 22 at the outbreak of WWII in 1939, at which point she was forced to interrupt her philosophy studies because she was a Jew; working for OSE as a social worker, assigned to Rivesaltes Internment Camp to extract Jewish children from the camp to avoid deportation; the country’s attitude to Philippe Pétain (the French Ambassador to Spain); how foreigners arriving in the 1930s immediately understood not to trust Pétain, in contrast to French-born Jews who believed Petain had only France’s interest at heart because of his status as a WWI hero; how the national attitudes began to change in part because of the July 1942 Vel d’Hiv roundup and deportation of children; the accelerated recruitment of French youth to serve in the SRO; her decision to not register as a Jew because she believed it was not their business; the three phases of OSE work in France, first, working to extract Jewish children from internment camps, their relocation to children’s homes and their training/education to learn trades and develop physical education skills, second, beginning in July 1942, creating a clandestine network and, in particular, the Garel network, to secure safety of Jewish children, changing identity through forged identification papers, identification of families to house in secret Jewish children and mobilizing funding to achieve these goals, and third, the post-war effort, which concentrated on reuniting Jewish children with their families and securing safe and supportive environments for those children whose parents were murdered by the Nazis; how the Protestants were ahead of OSE in developing networks to save Jewish children because they, themselves, had experienced persecution in France; and her book “Rescuing the Children” which was published in 2002.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Vivette Samuel
Lisa Gossels
Dean Wetherell
Documentary films.
5 videocasettes (Betacam SP) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Lisa Gossels and Dean Wetherell
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:53:59
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