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Page two of an affidavit in lieu of passport issued to the Jewish refugee child Benjamin Hirsch prior to his departure for the U.S. in 1941.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 49635A

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    Page two of an affidavit in lieu of passport issued to the Jewish refugee child Benjamin Hirsch prior to his departure for the U.S. in 1941.
    Page two of an affidavit in lieu of passport issued to the Jewish refugee child Benjamin Hirsch prior to his departure for the U.S. in 1941.

    Overview

    Caption
    Page two of an affidavit in lieu of passport issued to the Jewish refugee child Benjamin Hirsch prior to his departure for the U.S. in 1941.
    Date
    1941 August 10
    Locale
    Marseilles, [Bouches-du-Rhone] France
    Variant Locale
    Marseille
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Benjamin Hirsch
    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,

    https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005519.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Benjamin Hirsch

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Biography
    Benjamin Hirsch is the son of Dr. Hermann and Mathilde (Auerbach) Hirsch. He was born September 19, 1932 in Frankfurt-am-Main, where his father was a dentist and a lay leader of the Jewish community. Benjamin was raised in an Orthodox home. He had six siblings: Flora (b. 1925) Sarah, Anselme (b. 1927), Jacob (b. 1931), Werner (b. 1936) and Roselene (b. 1938). When Benjamin was six-years-old, SS men broke into their home on the night of Kristallnacht demanding to see Dr. Hirsch. When Mathilde said that he wasn't home, the man pulled out a gun and threatened to kill each of the children unless he appeared. At that moment, Hermann came out from a hiding place and gave himself up. He was sent to Buchenwald, and Benjamin never saw him again. After the arrest, Mathilde resolved to do whatever she could to save her children. She learned that a Kindertransport was being formed to send children to France, and she enrolled her five oldest children. She decided that the two youngest children were too young to travel and would remain with her. Benjamin and his siblings left for Paris in early December 1938. Flora, who at thirteen was the oldest of the children, worked as an aide, helping to look after the younger ones. Upon their arrival, Flora and Sarah went to live with their uncle, Gusti. Anselme and Jacob went to a religious boarding school, and Benjamin went to the home of Nathan and Helen Samuels. After the German invasion of France, the children were evacuated from Paris. The OSE (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants) first sent Benjamin to the children's home, Villa Helvetia, in Montmorency and then to Masgelier. Meanwhile, 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. In May 1941 the OSE sent Benjamin to Marseilles to meet his brothers for the first children's convoy. Shortly before the children were about to leave for Spain, Benjamin came down with a severe stomach ache, which was diagnosed as an appendicitis. Anselme and Jacob went on ahead, and Benjamin, who by now was feeling better, went to join his sisters at the Chateau de Morrelles to wait for the next transport. In August, Flora, Sarah and Benjamin took a bus to Marseilles to begin their journey to America. From there they took a train to Spain and then Lisbon where they boarded the SS Mouzinho for the U.S.. Their mother had a cousin, Rabbi Selig Auerbach, who was a rabbi in Rome, Georgia. Though he did not have the resources to care for five more children, he offered to visit and assist them if they found foster homes nearby. Therefore the Hebrew Orphan's Home in Atlanta sponsored the Hirsch children and found homes for all of them in the city. After the war, Benjamin learned that his father had returned home from Buchenwald in early 1939 only to be rearrested a few years later. He was sent to Sachsenhausen and then transferred to Auschwitz, where he died on November 5, 1942. His mother and two younger siblings, Werner and Rosalene, were deported to their death in Auschwitz in the autumn of 1943.
    Record last modified:
    2004-05-17 00:00:00
    This page:
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