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Three Jewish refugees youths stand in the courtyard of the Hotel Bompard transit camp in Marseilles.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 33060

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    Three Jewish refugees youths stand in the courtyard of the Hotel Bompard transit camp in Marseilles.
    Three Jewish refugees youths stand in the courtyard of the Hotel Bompard transit camp in Marseilles. 

Kurt Leuchter is pictured in the foreground.


    Three Jewish refugees youths stand in the courtyard of the Hotel Bompard transit camp in Marseilles.

    Kurt Leuchter is pictured in the foreground.
    August 1942
    Marseilles, [Bouches-du-Rhone] France
    Variant Locale
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Kurt and Edith Loeb Leuchter
    Event History
    Bompard, Levant and Terminus du Port were three hotels located in the city of Marseilles, which were utilized as transit camps for foreign-born women and children beginning in the late spring of 1940. Many of the residents were women whose husbands were incarcerated at Les Milles, the largest of the transit camps, located 90 km. north of Marseilles. Those interned in the hotels and at Les Milles were primarily Jewish refugees who had made arrangements to emigrate, but who had not yet received the required funds and/or documentation to do so. Conditions in the hotel internment camps were never comfortable and deteriorated dramatically as the war progressed. At Bompard 250 inmates lived in 25 rooms of a two-story building. At Levant, where the OSE [Oeuvre de secours aux enfants] established a children's center, some 100 children shared the facility with 80 women. The Terminus du Port housed as many as 500 refugees. The internees suffered from malnutrition, poor hygiene, vermin, insufficient clothing, lack of heat, and limited electricity. Though life in the hotels was difficult, the refugees lived under a far more lenient regime than those confined to closed internment camps. Of greatest importance was their ability to leave the hotels on a daily basis. They also received much needed assistance from several relief organizations, including the Red Cross, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the Unitarian Service Committee, HICEM, and the OSE. The Jewish residents of the Marseilles hotel internment camps who were unable to emigrate or make other arrangements were rounded-up in early August 1942 and taken to Les Milles. A few weeks later the first deportation convoys left the camp for Auschwitz.

    [Source: Ryan, Donna Frances. Vichy and the Jews: The Example of Marseille, 1939-1944, PhD dissertation, Georgetown University, 1984.]

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Kurt and Edith Loeb Leuchter

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Kurt Leuchter was born on February 6, 1929 in Vienna. He was the only child of Moritz and Rosa (Maier) Leuchter. Moritz ran a wholesale silk business in Vienna with his brother, Julius, until he was arrested during Kristallnacht and instructed to leave Austria by the Gestapo. After his release from prison ten days later, Moritz obtained false visas for his family to travel to Belgium, and the three arrived in Antwerp in February 1939. Three months later, Moritz was arrested and sent to an internment camp in France. Rosa and Kurt remained in Antwerp until the summer, when they were deported to a transit camp in Limburg, Belgium. Their release several weeks later, was effected by Kurt's aunt, Paula Leuchter, who took advantage of her "Aryan" appearance. In September 1940 Kurt and his mother went to Paris with Paula and her son, where they lived in a refugee center. Upon learning that Moritz was interned in Les Milles, Kurt and his mother made their way to the unoccupied zone. When they reached Marseilles, they were interned at the Hotel Terminus de Porte. Though restricted in their movement, Kurt and his mother were able to visit Moritz occasionally. In July 1942 all Jewish refugees at the Hotel Terminus de Porte were transferred to Les Milles. When soon after their arrival representatives of the OSE (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants) offered to remove Kurt from the camp, his parents complied. He was then taken to the Hotel Bompard. Soon after, Kurt and a few other Jewish boys escaped from the hotel by jumping out of a window. The group went to the OSE, which sent them to the Masgelier children's home. Kurt remained there until February 1943, when he was sent into hiding at a boys' correctional facility in the village of Jeu-les-Bois. The director of the home, Mademoiselle Burelle, knew that Kurt was Jewish and managed to obtain false papers for him from the mayor of the village. When the Gestapo came in search of Kurt, however, she quickly arranged for him to join a group of French resistance fighters. After the liberation Kurt lived at the OSE children's center in Collonges, before moving to the center at Fontenay aux Roses outside Paris. There he worked as an apprentice in the leather goods workshop. In the summer of 1946 he returned to the Masgelier home. At this time Kurt contacted relatives in New York, who arranged for his immigration to the United States. In August 1946 he departed from Marseilles, arriving in New York on September 8, 1946. Four years later in 1950 Kurt married Edith Loeb, a fellow refugee from Château Masgelier. Kurt's parents were deported from Les Milles a few weeks after his release and killed in Auschwitz.
    Record last modified:
    2004-07-26 00:00:00
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