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View of the Gross Breesen agricultural training center.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 59854

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    View of the Gross Breesen agricultural training center.
    View of the Gross Breesen agricultural training center.


    View of the Gross Breesen agricultural training center.
    Circa 1937 - 1939
    Gross Breesen, [Brandenburg] Germany
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Eric F. Bowes
    Event History
    Gross Breesen was an agricultural training farm established by the Central Association of German Jews on a 567 acre plot of land that had previously belonged to a wealthy German-Jew, Willi Rohr. The Association hired Curt Werner Bondy (1894-1972) to run the school. He held a PhD in Social Psychology from Hamburg University and had been a full professor in Gottingen 1930-1933. Bondy was influenced by the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber and had previously worked with juvenile offenders. In addition to teaching agricultural, Bondy sought to instill discipline and also developed a curriculum that included other vocational training as well as languages, music, philosophy, history and religion. In the residential school, boys and girls slept on separate floors, 12 to a room in bunk beds. About 100 students attended the school at any given time, and a total of 240 students passed through the school. On November 9, the night of Kristallnacht, Gestapo raided the farm and arrested older boys and staff including Prof. Bondy and took them to Buchenwald. Also young German boys from surrounding farms vandalized the home, destroying the grand piano. After these events students from the school actively sought to emigrate. Thirty-one went to Australia and others left for Palestine, Kenya, England and Argentina. Some 37 immigrated to the United States to work on communal farm in Burkeville, Virginia established by Richmond businessman, William B. Thalhimer and his cousin, Morton. Dr. Bondy fled to Holland and made his way to the United States where he later taught psychology at the College of William and Mary. However, about half of the Gross Breesen children perished in the Holocaust.

    [Source: Robertson, Frank E. "A Teen Holocaust Story", UU Faith Works,]

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Eric F. Bowes

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Erich Bowes (born Erich Brauer) was the son Wilhelm Brauer and Ida Boehm Brauer. He was born on December 25, 1922 in Breslau, Germany where his parents were iron and steel merchants. After the Nazi takeover, Jews were no longer able to attend regular German schools, so Erich received vocational training on a farm in Gross Breesen, outside of Breslau, from November 1937 to March 1939. However, once he realized that this would not greatly hasten his escape from Germany, he decided to return home. To facilitate his return, his father bribed the SS man in charge of Gross Breesen with 100 marks to give Erich official permission. The Gestapo in Breslau told Erich he had to work for the Jewish community, with the stipulation that he leave the country within six months.

    Erich left on a Kindertransport to England on June 27, 1939. From July 1939 to January 1940, Erich stayed on a farm in Litton Cheney near Dorchester, and then he spent the next six months in a youth hostel at 104 Nightingale Road, London. However, in June 1940, Erich was deemed an enemy alien by virtue of his German birth, and on June 21 he was deported from London to an internment camp on the Isle of Man. He returned to London in November and enlisted in the British Army. He later joined the Special Operation Executive (SOE) in a unit known as the 12 Force. Composed largely of immigrants, 12 Force was trained to drop into enemy territory to support partisans, guide Allied airmen who had been shot down, and hinder enemy activities. He trained with them until 1943, when he left 12 Force to assume special assignments for the SOE. On assignment, Erich parachuted into Germany and performed sabotage, through the demolition of German factories and railroad switches. In the autumn of 1945, he was detailed to escort SS War criminals held in Great Britain to SHAEF in Paris and Nuremberg. While in Nuremberg, Erich received a cable sent by the American chaplain Lippman informing him that his parents were in the Deggendorf displaced persons camp. They had been deported to Theresienstadt on March 1943 and then to Auschwitz in 1944. After receiving the cable Erich took a jeep to Deggendorf to reunite with his parents. Erich's parents could not get visas to immigrate to England; they instead came to the United States in 1946 and settled in New Jersey. Erich joined them in December 1948.
    Record last modified:
    2003-09-09 00:00:00
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