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Nachlass Elisabeth Eidenbenz (1913-2011)

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2017.91.1 | RG Number: RG-58.045

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    Overview

    Description
    Private papers of Elisabeth Eidenbenz (1913-2011), a teacher, nurse, and aid worker for refugees in the camps of Argelès-sur-Mer, Saint Cyprien, and Rivesaltes, France and in other places. The collection consists of private personal documents, correspondence and photographs of Elisabeth Eidenbenz and her family; reports, press articles, correspondence, and photographs relating to activities of Elisabeth Eidenbenz to rescue children of Spanish Republicans, Jewish refugees and Romanies fleeing the Nazi invasion. Elisabeth Eidenbenz was a founder of the Mothers of Elne-a maternal hospital at Elne near Perpignan, France (also known as Maternitat d'Elna in Catalan, Maternidad de Elna in Spanish and Maternité Suisse d'Elne in French); she also worked with such rescue organization as the Swiss Working Community for Children of Spain (Ayuda Suiza, SAS) [Schweizerischen Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Spanienkinder], Swiss Working Community for Children Wounded in War (SAK) [Schweizerischen Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Kriegsgeschädigte Kinder], and the Swiss Red Cross [Schweizerisches Rotes Kreuz]. Elisabeth Eidenbenz was honored by Yad Vashem as a "Righteous among the Nations," was nominated as an honorary citizen of Elne, received a medal the "Medalla de oro de la Orden Civil de la Solidaridad" by the Spanish Government, and was appointed in 2017 in Vienna as a Knight of the French Legion of Honor (Legion d'Honneur). Her honors are documented in this collection.
    Alternate Title
    Elisabeth Eidenbenz papers
    Date
    inclusive:  1910-1982
    Collection Creator
    Elisabeth Eidenbenz
    Biography
    Elisabeth Eidenbenz (1913-2011), was a teacher, nurse, and aid worker for refugees in the camps of Argelès-sur-Mer, Saint Cyprien, and Rivesaltes, France and in other places. Elisabeth Eidenbenz was a founder of the Mothers of Elne (also known as Maternitat d'Elna in Catalan, Maternidad de Elna in Spanish and Maternité Suisse d'Elne in French). Between 1939 and 1944, she saved some 600 children who were mostly the children of Spanish Republicans, Jewish refugees and Romanies fleeing the Nazi invasion. Elisabeth was a young teacher from Switzerland, teaching in Switzerland and Denmark until she decided to join the Asociación de Ayuda a los Niños en Guerra ("Association to Aid Children in War").
    After the fall of the Spanish Republic many Republicans sought refuge in France. Many died of malnutrition, disease and other afflictions. Many pregnant woman were destined to lose their unborn children, or die in childbirth. Elizabeth decided to convert an abandoned mansion in Elne (adjacent to Argelès-sur-Mer) into a maternity home.
    This humanitarian work relied on voluntary donations from Europe, but after the start of World War II, funds dried up while refugees began to arrive from France and the rest of Europe. These were mainly Jewish women fleeing the Nazi occupation. Therefore, the group of volunteers was forced to associate themselves with the Red Cross, and to abide by the policy of neutrality. This would have prevented them from sheltering political refugees, mostly Jews. It was therefore decided that the identity of most of the refugees would be hidden in order to circumvent these laws. They were harassed by the Gestapo and on one occasion detained. Some 400 Spanish children and 200 Jews from Europe were saved throughout this period.
    From 2002, the work of Elisabeth Eidenbenz began to gain recognition with the publication of several books on her life, and just before Easter 2002, when 60 of those whom Elisabeth helped to survive, reunited in Elne to honor “La Señorita.” Elisabeth Eidenbenz subsequently received awards for her work; among others, she was named a "Righteous among the Nations " by Yad Vashem, became an honorary citizen of Elne, received the "Medalla de oro de la Orden Civil de la Solidaridad" by the Spanish Government, and was inducted into the French Legion d'Honneur (Legion of Honor).

    Physical Details

    Extent
    5,805 digital images : PDF ; 8.01 GB .
    8 filmstrips : MP4.
    System of Arrangement
    Arranged in three series: 1. Biographical materials; 2. Activities of Elisabeth Eidenbenz as an aid worker for refugee children; 3. Albums, maps, photographs, and filmstrips.
    Note: Partially not digitized: File 1, 37, 38 (Publications)

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    This material can only be accessed in a Museum reading room or other on-campus viewing stations. Users are required to complete a User Declaration in order to gain access to the collection.
    Conditions on Use
    No publication and copies of the records and finding aids to the 3rd party users without the written permission from the Archiv für Zeitgeschichte (AfZ). The Museum may not transfer the materials or duplicate records thereof or any of the finding aids to any third party, except as permitted in the Cooperation Contract, Article II paragraph 5 herein or as otherwise permitted in writing by the AfZ. The Museum may not publish the reproduction material or finding aid on the Internet, World Wide Web, or any publicly accessible on-line network without the written permission of the AfZ. Contact afz@history.gess.ethz.ch.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    Source of acquisition is the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich. Archiv für Zeitgeschichte (AfZ), Switzerland; Archival signature: NL Elisabeth Eidenbenz. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives received the collection via the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s International Archives Project in March 2017.
    Record last modified:
    2023-06-30 12:42:39
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn558455

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