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Card made by two young internees to thank a US aid worker

Object | Accession Number: 2014.500.2

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    Card made by two young internees to thank a US aid worker

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Thank you card made for Roswell McClelland, a US aid worker, by prisoners in Les Milles internment camp in France between 1941 and 1942. Roswell and his wife, Marjorie, went to Europe in August 1940 to work for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker organization that promotes development, service and peace programs throughout the world. Roswell directed an AFSC refugee relief office in Rome until August 1941, when the office officially closed. Roswell and Marjorie were then sent to another AFSC office in Marseille, a port city in the southern part of France. Marseille was located in Vichy France, the unoccupied, southern half of France that was ruled by the collaborationist Vichy Government. Roswell worked to provide relief for prisoners in Les Milles internment camp and Marjorie worked to select children for the USCOM children’s transport to the US in summer 1942. Late that summer, the couple moved to Geneva to establish a special office of the AFSC’s Relief & Refugee Section in Switzerland. Roswell and his office developed several programs to provide refugees with financial assistance, clothing, and preparation for emigration. On January 22, 1944, President Roosevelt established the War Refugee Board (WRB) to carry out an official American policy of rescue and relief for victims of the war and Nazi persecution. In March, Roswell was selected as the Board’s representative in Switzerland, a post he held until the end of the war in May 1945.
    Date
    creation:  1941 August-1942 May
    received:  after 1941 August
    Geography
    creation: Les Milles internment camp; Les Milles (France)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Kirk McClelland
    Markings
    front, handwritten, white and blue paint : MR. ROSWELL MC.CLELLAND / Chocolate is good / and cheese is good / But our thanks are better / Therefore a cheer for the donner of food / As our reward together
    back, handwritten, black ink : Chef de la Jeunesse / Samuel Schmitt [Head of Youth]
    Signature
    back, blue ink : KR BODEK
    Contributor
    Subject: Roswell McClelland
    Subject: Samuel Schmitt
    Artist: Karl R. Bodek
    Subject: Karl R. Bodek
    Biography
    Roswell Dunlop McClelland (1914-1995) was born in Palo Alto, California, to Ross St. John McClelland and Alice (Alys) M. Mitchell. He studied French, German, Italian and American literature, graduating with a BA from Duke University in 1936 and an MA from Columbia University in 1940. During his studies, Roswell learned to speak German and Italian. On November 19, 1938, he married Marjorie Helen Miles (1913-1978). Marjorie graduated from Stanford, and completed graduate work in child psychology at the University of Cincinnati and Yale University. Marjorie was a member of the Religious Society of Friends (also known as Quakers), a Christian religious group devoted to peaceful principals. After Roswell's graduation from Columbia, he was awarded a fellowship to study an archival collection related to Voltaire in Geneva, Switzerland. The fellowship was awarded by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker organization that promotes development, service and peace programs throughout the world. However, by June 1940, Nazi Germany and their allies had occupied most of Europe, and Roswell was not able to use the scholarship.

    With the expanding war in Europe, the AFSC was looking for aid workers to send overseas. Due to Roswell’s foreign language skills, he was recruited to go to Europe and direct an AFSC refugee relief office in Rome, Italy. In August 1940, Roswell and Marjorie went to Europe, spending a month in Lisbon, Portugal, before traveling to Rome. In August 1941, the office closed and the couple moved to Marseille, in Vichy France, where they joined another AFSC office. From their base in Marseille, Roswell worked to provide relief for prisoners in Les Milles internment camp. Marjorie worked to select children for the USCOM children’s transport to the United States in the summer of 1942.

    In the late summer of 1942, the couple moved to Geneva to establish a special office of the AFSC’s Relief & Refugee Section in Switzerland. Roswell and his colleagues developed several programs to provide refugees with financial assistance, clothing, and preparation for emigration. On January 22, 1944, President Roosevelt established the War Refugee Board (WRB) to carry out an official American policy of rescue and relief for victims of the war and Nazi persecution. In March, Roswell was selected as the Board’s representative in Switzerland. He commuted to Bern four days a week, while Marjorie continued to run the AFSC offices in Geneva. As part of his work with the WRB, Roswell translated the Auschwitz Protocol, from German to English. The Auschwitz Protocol was a report written by Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, two Slovakian Jews who escaped from Auschwitz. After the end of the war in May 1945, Roswell became a United States Foreign Service officer. Roswell and Marjorie had four children. Later in life, after Marjorie passed away, Roswell remarried.
    Samuel Abraham Wilhelm Schmitt (1920-2002) was born in Viernheim, Germany, to Anna and Jacob Schmitt. Jacob was a missionary and had previously worked in the colony of German Cameroon, in Africa. The family was very religious, and Samuel was raised as a Protestant. When Samuel was two years old, Jacob died and Samuel was raised by his mother in Germany. On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany and new laws were passed to indoctrinate German youth into Nazi ideology. In 1935, school authorities attempted to force Samuel to join the Hitler youth. After consulting with his mother, Samuel refused to join for religious reasons. He also chose not to give the Nazi salute, which was mandatory for students. In response to these actions, Samuel was labelled a dissident. Fearing Nazi reprisals, he left Germany that year. Samuel went to Switzerland, where he attended the Cantonal Trade School in Basel and remained until he graduated in 1938. As a German citizen, Samuel could not receive a work permit in Switzerland, so he had to return to Germany. He stayed in Germany for three months before he fled again, this time to Belgium. Samuel lived as a refugee, until the Germans invaded in May 1940.

    As a German living in Belgium, Samuel was identified as an enemy alien. As a result, he was deported to France in an overcrowded freight wagon. He was taken to a camp in Le Vigeant, France, and then to Saint-Cyprien internment camp. After the surrender of France, but before the Germans took control of the camp, Samuel escaped and fled to Marseille, where he was caught and sent to Les Milles internment camp. He was in Les Milles for a short while, and was then transferred to Gurs internment camp. Samuel was in Gurs for five months, and then sent back to Les Milles. During his second stint in Les Milles, Samuel was appointed the youth manager of the camp. He helped the prisoners set up a school and teacher workshops for the young prisoners. In his efforts, he was aided by Quaker organizations, the YMCA, and The Christian Association of Young Men, which he had joined during his stay in Switzerland. In April 1942, Samuel left the camp and lived in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon in south-central France. Samuel was one of approximately 5,000 people, including 3,000-3,500 Jews, the community of Le Chambon gave refuge to during the German occupation. While in Le Chambon, Samuel was placed on a deportation list due to his Jewish sounding name (both Samuel and Abraham have Hebrew origins). He was ordered to return to Les Milles, but he fled to Switzerland in October, and remained there throughout the war. After the war, Samuel remained in Switzerland, married, and became an accomplished editor, writer, and publisher.
    Karl Robert Bodek (1905-1942) was born in Chernivt︠s︡i, Austria-Hungary (now Chernivt︠s︡i, Ukraine). He had a sister, and was raised in a traditional Jewish family. Before World War II, he worked as a photographer and draftsman. In May 1940, Germany began the invasion and occupation of Western Europe. In the summer, the Soviet Union occupied Northern Bukovina, the area where Chernivt︠s︡i was located, so Karl fled east. First, to France, and then to Belgium. In October, Karl was arrested and deported to France. He was first taken to Saint-Cyprien internment camp, and later transferred to Gurs internment camp. There, he protested the inhuman conditions in the camp through his drawings. In April 1941, he was transferred to Les Milles internment camp. While in Les Milles, Karl taught painting, drew portraits of fellow prisoners, and worked on murals in the camp. On August 14, 1942, he was transferred to Drancy transit camp, and then deported on Transport 19, Train 901-14 to Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center in German-occupied Poland, where he was killed.

    Physical Details

    Language
    English French
    Classification
    Information Forms
    Category
    Correspondence
    Genre/Form
    Cards.
    Physical Description
    Rectangular card with an image of two smiling boys, one of whom is eating chocolate while the other is eating cheese. A blue flap on the left side opens and closes, making the forearms of both boys move simultaneously to bring the food held in their hands to their mouths. Adhered to the top of the flap is a handmade stamp with perforated edges and a drawing of buildings in an internment camp, with a caption along the bottom. The boys are staggered, one in front of the other. The boy in the foreground is wearing a red vest over a white shirt, and the boy in the background is wearing a white, V-neck shirt. The image has a yellow background, and along the bottom are several lines of white cursive English text. One of the lines ends in blue instead of white. The image is painted on a piece of construction paper that is adhered to a slightly larger, green, square piece of paper. A thin, blue strand of barbed wire is drawn on the edge of the paper, around the image. The back is green with the artist’s signature in blue and centered inside a small, white rectangle. In the bottom left are two handwritten lines of French text.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 4.750 inches (12.065 cm) | Width: 4.875 inches (12.383 cm)
    Materials
    overall : construction paper, paint, ink, adhesive
    Inscription
    front, top left on stamp, handwritten, black paint : CAMP DES MILLES

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Schmitt, Samuel.

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The card was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2014 by Kirk McClelland, the son of Roswell and Marjorie McClelland.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-23 15:34:48
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn607419

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