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Ivar Segalowitz and three other boys display models that they made in a woodworking class in the Ecouis children's home.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 38375

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    Ivar Segalowitz and three other boys display models that they made in a woodworking class in the Ecouis children's home.
    Ivar Segalowitz and three other boys display models that they made in a woodworking class in the Ecouis children's home.

Among those pictured are Hans Oster (left), Ivar Segalowitz (second from the left), and Janusz Podlaski (second from the right).


    Ivar Segalowitz and three other boys display models that they made in a woodworking class in the Ecouis children's home.

    Among those pictured are Hans Oster (left), Ivar Segalowitz (second from the left), and Janusz Podlaski (second from the right).
    1945 - 1947
    Ecouis, [Eure] France
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Ivar Segalowitz
    Event History
    The Buchenwald children were a group of approximately 1000 Jewish child survivors found by American troops when they liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp on April 11, 1945. Most of the children were originally from Poland, though others came from Hungary, Slovenia and Ruthenia. Unsure of what to do with the child survivors, American army chaplains, Rabbi Herschel Schacter and Rabbi Robert Marcus, contacted the offices of the OSE (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants), the Jewish children's relief organization in Geneva. They arranged to send 427 of the children to France, 280 to Switzerland and 250 to England. [Vivette Samuels reverses the figures for England and Switzerland in her monograph, "Sauver les Enfants."] On June 2, 1945 OSE representatives arrived in Buchenwald, and together with Rabbi Marcus escorted the transport of children to France. Rabbi Schacter accompanied the second transport to Switzerland. Because of the difficulty in finding clothing for the children, the boys were clad in Hitler Youth uniforms. This created a problem, for when the train crossed into France, it was greeted by an angry populace who assumed the train was carrying Nazi youth. Thereafter the words "KZ Buchenwald orphans" were painted on the outside of the train to avoid confusion. On June 6, 1945 the French transport arrived at the Andelys station and the orphans were taken to a children's home in Ecouis (Eure). The home had been set up to accommodate young children, but in fact only 30 of the boys were below the age of 13. This was only one of the many problems faced by the OSE personnel, who were not prepared to handle a large group of demanding, rebellious teenagers who were full of anger for what they had experienced. At Ecouis the boys were given medical care, counseling and schooling until more permanent accommodations could be found. Most of the children remained only four to eight weeks at Ecouis before being moved elsewhere, and the home was closed in August 1945. Among the first to leave were a group of 173 children who had family in Palestine. They were given immigration certificates and departed from Marseilles in July aboard the British vessel, the RMS Mataroa. The remaining boys at Ecouis were soon transferred to other residences and homes. Some of the older ones were sent to the Foyer d'Etudiants located on the rue Rollin in Paris, where they boarded while attending vocational training courses or working at jobs in the city. Others were sent to the Chateau de Boucicaut home in Fontenay-aux-Roses (Hauts-de-Seine). Many of the boys came from religiously observant homes. Since the OSE could not obtain kosher food for everyone, they divided the children into religious and non-religious groups. Dr. Charly Merzbach offered OSE the use of his estate, the Chateau d'Ambloy (Loir-et-Cher) for the summer, and between 90 and 100 boys chose to go there in order to receive kosher food and live in a religious environment. In October 1945 the children and staff of Ambloy were relocated to the Chateau de Vaucelles in Taverny (Val d'Oise). About 50 of the non-religious boys were taken to the Villa Concordiale in Le Vesinet (Yvelines) near Paris that housed an equal number of French Jewish orphans. In the summer they went to the Foyer de Champigny in Champigny-sur-Marne (Val-de-Marne). In all the homes attended by the Buchenwald children vocational training as well as regular classroom instruction was offered. At the same time OSE social workers made every effort to locate surviving relatives, succeeding in about half the cases. By the end of 1948 all of the Buchenwald children who had come to France had left the OSE fold and begun new lives for themselves.

    [Sources: Hemmendinger, Judith and Krell, Robert. "The Children of Buchenwald." Gefen Publishers, 2000; Grobman, Alex. "Rekindling the Flame." Wayne State University Press, 1993; Hazan, Katy, "Chronologie de l'histoire de l'OSE L'action de l'OSE apres la guerre." (31 December 2002).]

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Ivar Segalowitz

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Ivar Segalowitz is the son of Boris and Erna Segalowitz. He was born on August 17, 1930 in Klaipeda [Memel], Lithuania, where Boris ran a prosperous flax exporting business. Ivar attended a Hebrew speaking Tarbut school and joined the Zionist youth movement, Hashomer Hatzair. Klaipeda, which had a significant ethnic German population, was annexed by Nazi Germany on March 29, 1939. Soon after, the Segalowitz family, along with most of the city's Jewish population, fled to the Lithuanian interior. Ivar's family went to Siauliai for three weeks before moving to Panevezys, where Boris went back to work in the flax business. After the Soviet annexation of Lithuania in the summer of 1940, the authorities ordered the Segalowitz family, whom they considered to be German citizens, to move to Kaunas. One year later, on June 22, 1941, Germany invaded Lithuania and immediately initiated an assault on its Jewish population. In August, the Segalowitz family, along with the entire Jewish community of Kaunas, was forced into the Kovno ghetto, situated in the Slobodka district. The family survived several large scale actions that took the lives of over one-third of the ghetto's population. For the next three years Boris and Erna worked in forced labor battalions and Ivar in a metalworks shop organized by ORT. When the ghetto was liquidated in July 1944, Erna was deported to Stutthof, where she perished. Ivar and his father were taken by train to Landsberg, a subcamp of Dachau. They were separated after their arrival and never saw one another again. From Landsberg, Ivar was sent to Dachau, where he was included in a group of 129 children being deported to Auschwitz. After his arrival Ivar was put to work on a farm in Birkenau, where he was able to stay alive by eating some of the horse's food. Eventually, Ivar was transferred to Buchenwald, where he was liberated at the age of 14 on April 11, 1945. Shortly thereafter, representatives of the OSE (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants) came to the camp and arranged for the transport of 430 Jewish children, Ivar among them, to an OSE children's home in Ecouis, France. There they received medical care, counseling and schooling before being divided into smaller groups and sent elsewhere. Ivar was among a group of six to ten boys who were sent to Champigny, another OSE home near Paris. While living there, Ivar attended vocational school in Paris. In April 1947 his aunt and uncle, Walter and Margot Lepane, who had come to America in 1938, sponsored his immigration to the United States.

    Janusz Podlaski was born on March 4, 1929 in Lodz, Poland, the son of Jozef Podlaski, a successful textile manufacturer and importer, and Estera Leichter. He had one elder brother (Ryszard) and a younger sister (Irena). During the war, he was imprisoned in the Lodz Ghetto with his family, where his father Jozef, a member of the Jewish Council in the Ghetto, was the leader of a factory making leather goods, including horse saddles.
    Janusz was deported along with his family to Auschwitz Birkenau, arriving there on August 21, 1944. His mother and sister perished in the gas chambers immediately on arrival. Janusz was assigned the number B-7654 and was made to work in the Buda Agricultural camp alongside many other boys who were transferred with him from the Lodz Ghetto around the same time.

    Following the evacuation of Auschwitz and the two-day march westwards in January 1945, Janusz was transported to Buchenwald in an open iron ore wagon, arriving there on January 23, 1945. The SS registered him there as a Polish Jew with the inmate number 120127. Janusz worked in the camp's wood yard, which was an easier labor detachment where prisoners had to collect and stack fuel wood. Due to his young age Janusz was placed in block 66, located in the so-called "Little Camp." Members of the camp's resistance movement, led by Anton Kalina, had set up block 66 within the quarantine area of the camp as a sanctuary for the youngest inmates. There, they benefitted from slightly better living conditions and a certain distance from the SS, which saved many of them in the last months of the camp's existence.

    In the war's final days in early April 1945, the Nazis decided to eradicate Buchenwald's Jews. The camp's commanders ordered all Jews to report for assembly, in order to force them out on more death marches. Kalina refused to comply with this order. He commanded the boys not to report to the assembly and changed the religion on their badges from Jewish to Christian, so when the SS came looking for Jews, Kalina told them that block 66 had no more.

    Thanks to Kalina's efforts, when the Allies liberated Buchenwald on April 11, 1945, over 900 Jewish boys survived. Many of these boys were eventually transferred to the Childrens home at Ecouis, near Paris, by representatives of the OSE (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants), Janusz among them. During his time at the Ecouis children's home Janusz learned that his brother and father had perished--his brother on the death march from Auschwitz, and his father from illness and malnutrition shortly after the war's end.

    In the summer of 1945, distant relatives sponsored Janusz and he emigrated to Manchester, England to live with them. Janusz (known as Jan) went on to have a distinguished career as a lecturer in radio and TV electronics and maintained his interest in models until he died, aged 70 in March 1999. Janusz died leaving his wife of 49 years, Millicent, a son Peter, and daughters Elaine and Anne.
    Record last modified:
    2019-12-19 00:00:00
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