Children on the deck of the Mouzinho en route to America.
Photograph | Photograph Number: 59998
- Photo Designation
JEWISH REFUGEES: SEARCH FOR SAFE HAVENS (1933-1945) -- Emigration/Refugee Assistance -- In Portugal -- 1941
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Henry Schuster
Children on the deck of the Mouzinho en route to America.
Those pictured include Werner Dreifus, Eric Gruenbaum and Gertrude Pfferling.
- 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,
- Heinz (now Henry) Schuster is the son of Abraham Schuster and Teresa (Rosa) Schuster nee Steinfeld. He was born on March 18, 1926 in a small village, Sterbfritz, in Hesse Germany. The family was religiously observant, and his father owned a grocery store on the ground floor of the family's home. Heinz had two sisters Bertl (Betty) and Margot. Abraham died in 1935 from a stroke because the local doctor was not allowed to care for a Jew. In the previous year Abraham had been forced to sell his store to a German. The sale was conducted in a friendly manner; however, after Abraham's death, the German forced Teresa and the children to move to an attic apartment and stopped making payments. The new German owner then hung a sign on the stairs leading to the apartment saying Jews were prohibited from using the stairwell. Infuriated, Rose changed the wording on the sign so that it read "Jeden" instead of "Juden" meaning that anyone was prohibited from using the stairwell. The German complained to the police who came to Heinz's school and arrested him in front of his classmates. They brought him to the local jail and demanded that he tell them who had defaced the sign. Heinz refused to say anything, so he was kept in the cell for most of the day cell until his uncle arranged for his release. The following day, Heinz left town with his uncle. From 1936-1939 Heinz lived in a Jewish orphanage in Frankfurt run by the Rothschild family, the Judische Weisenhaus Kinderheim. On the night of Kristallnacht in November 1938, the SA entered the orphanage and abused the caretaker. They removed the torah scrolls from the home's synagogue and destroyed them. There were older men hiding in the home. One was caught and tortured in front of the older boys. Afterwards, eleven children, including Heinz, were sent from Frankfurt on a Kindertransport to France. Heinz first stayed in an orthodox boarding school, the Ecole Maimonides, and later in Eaubonne, an orthodox OSE home. After the Nazi invasion of Paris the children were transferred to Montintin. Heinz was able to write to his mother, who was now working as the director of the Jewish old age home in Frankfurt, through a third-party in Switzerland. In June 1941 Heinz was selected to join a children's transport to the United States under the auspices of the Quakers and the JDC. He traveled via Spain to Portugal where he boarded the Mouzinho, and arrived in New York in June 1941. Heinz was one of the One Thousand Children. This is the recent name given to the group of Holocaust child survivors who fled from Hitler's threat without their parents and traveled directly to the United States.
He then went to live with his father's cousin, Sam Schuster, in Shreveport Louisiana. Heinz managed to continue to correspond with his mother until 1942. Even after communication ceased, Heinz was not seriously worried since thought that only men would be sent to concentration camps. After graduating high school in 1944, Heinz enlisted in the US Army Air Corps and prepared for deployment to Asia. Before he was shipped out, the war in Europe ended, and Heinz received word that his sister Bertel had been liberated from Bergen-Belsen. He also discovered that his mother and Margot had been killed in Estonia in 1942. Henry successfully petitioned to be sent to Europe instead of the Philippines so he could reunite with his sister Bertel. Heinz returned to Germany as a non-commissioned officer and served as an interrogator at an SS prisoner-of-war camp. He also returned with two army buddies to Sterbfritz and confronted the owner of his parent's home. After his discharge from the army in 1946, he and Bertel reunited in New York.
- Photo Source
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumProvenance: Henry Schuster
Record last modified: 2018-02-21 00:00:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa1144450