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Identification tag issued to Liesel Weil by the American Friends Service Committee for her voyage to the United States on board the Mouzinho.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 99679

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    Identification tag issued to Liesel Weil by the American Friends Service Committee for her voyage to the United States on board the Mouzinho.
    Identification tag issued to Liesel Weil by the American Friends Service Committee for her voyage to the United States on board the Mouzinho.


    Identification tag issued to Liesel Weil by the American Friends Service Committee for her voyage to the United States on board the Mouzinho.
    1941 August 11
    Marseilles, [Bouches-du-Rhone] France
    Variant Locale
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Liesel Weil Appel
    Event History
    In September 1940, HICEM (the Jewish overseas emigration association) began making plans to facilitate the immigration of Jewish children to the United States on special State Department visas. Though the program was designed to help children below the age of thirteen, children as old as sixteen were admitted if they were accompanying younger siblings. The JDC (American Joint Distribution Committee) facilitated and financed the emigration of children without American relatives. HICEM made arrangements for French exit visas, Spanish and Portuguese transit visas, and reservations on ships out of Lisbon. On March 5, 1941, OSE (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants) France in Montpellier sent HICEM a list of 500 detained children as candidates for emigration. These children were released from French internment camps, such as Gurs and Rivesaltes, and taken to OSE children's homes while awaiting emigration. However, both the French and American governments were slow in processing the visas and some children had to wait a full year before they received the necessary papers. The first convoy of 111 children left the Marseilles train station at the end of May 1941. They were accompanied by OSE workers Isaac and Masha Chomski, who coordinated the transport with the assistance of Morris Troper of the JDC as well as the American Friends Service Committee. The train stopped briefly at the Oloron train station, located outside the Gurs concentration camp, so that the children could say a final goodbye to their parents. The children had saved their morning food rations and presented them to their parents as a gift, to the amazement of all the adults present. The brief reunion was traumatic for both the children and the parents, and OSE decided to discontinue the practice on future convoys. From France, the children traveled to Portugal by way of Spain. In Lisbon they boarded the SS Mouzinho which sailed on June 10, 1941. Two additional groups of children reached Lisbon in the late summer of 1941 and sailed aboard ships that left in September, one of which was the Serpa Pinto. In all, the five children's transports that left France for America rescued 311 children. These children became part of the One Thousand Children, the recent name given to the group of Holocaust child survivors who fled from Hitler's threat but without their parents and traveled directly to the United States,

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Liesel Weil Appel

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Liesel Appel (born Liesel Weil) is the daughter of Dr. Max Weil and Flora (Froehlich) Weil. She was born on November 11, 1930 in Nuremberg, Germany, where her father worked as an orthopedic surgeon. Liesel had three siblings: Herbert, Gerda and Suse. On Kristallnacht her home was vandalized and her father was arrested. Dr. Weil was sent to Dachau, the first of four stays in the camp. The family tried unsuccessfully to get the three older children out of the country. They were then told that one child could be sent to France. Initially, Herbert was chosen to go, but as the time approached, he was unwilling to leave the family, and Liesel was sent in his place. She took the train to Saarbrucken and then crossed the border into France, posing as the daughter of a peasant woman. Liesel stayed with the woman for two weeks and then moved to the home of a Jewish family. After this family left for Palestine, Liesel was placed temporarily with another Jewish family, until she was transferred to the OSE children's home in Eaubonne. After the fall of France, Liesel was sent to another children's home in the unoccupied zone. In the spring of 1941 permission was granted for a transport of OSE refugee children to go to the United States. Though initially Liesel was not on the list, after another child developed diphtheria she was sent in her place. The children travelled to Lisbon by way of Gurs and Madrid. In all, 103 children sailed to New York aboard the Portuguese liner, Mouzinho. The transport was sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, and the children were met in New York by representatives of several Jewish organizations. For the next two-and-a-half years, Liesel bounced from foster home to foster home, where she was often poorly treated. Finally, at the age of thirteen she was sent to the home of Natalie and Harry Miller who became her surrogate parents. Liesel's older sister, Gerda, went to Palestine with the Youth Aliyah program shortly after Liesel left for France. Her parents, brother and youngest sister all perished during the war.
    Record last modified:
    2004-09-24 00:00:00
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