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Hilda Krieser takes a group of children for a walk in the Rivesaltes transit camp.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 69443

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    Hilda Krieser takes a group of children for a walk in the Rivesaltes transit camp.
    Hilda Krieser takes a group of children for a walk in the Rivesaltes transit camp.

    Overview

    Caption
    Hilda Krieser takes a group of children for a walk in the Rivesaltes transit camp.
    Date
    1940 - 1941
    Locale
    Rivesaltes, [Pyrenees-Orientales] France
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Hilda Tayar
    Event History
    Rivesaltes (Pyrénées-Orientales) was one of an estimated thirty-one internment camps in southern France. Located at the base of the Pyrenees Mountains near the Spanish border, Rivesaltes was built as a military camp to quarter up to 18,000 soldiers. In late 1938 it was turned into a refugee camp for those displaced by the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). From 1938 to late 1940, the Spanish republican refugees were detained there only temporarily, and many were released for assimilation into mainstream French society. Following the German conquest of France and the establishment of the Vichy government in June 1940, the new Vichy authorities converted Rivesaltes into an internment camp whose residents had little or no freedom of moment outside of the camp. During the first weeks after the armistice, the Germans arrested political opponents, both French and refugees, including Germans, who had previously fled to France to escape Nazi persecution. Many of these political detainees were transferred to the custody of the Vichy authorities and incarcerated in detention camps in unoccupied France, including Rivesaltes. In the fall and winter of 1940, Vichy government transferred about 1,000 women and children of Spanish nationality to the camp from Gurs, a nearby internment camp. By the spring of 1941, French authorities had sent 1,226 Jews, both adults and children, from other detention centers to Rivesaltes. Because the camp had an estimated 3,000 child inmates in 1941, it was considered a family camp. At the height of its operation, in April 1941, Rivesaltes had a population of about 8,000. In 1941, interned Jews comprised 40% of the total camp population.

    Working in collaboration with Nazi Germany, the Vichy French authorities used Rivesaltes as a transit camp for the deportation of Jews from France to killing centers in German-occupied Poland. These efforts to implement the Final Solution were enacted through nine convoys leaving from Rivesaltes to Auschwitz via Drancy, transporting 2,313 Jews to where they were most likely murdered. Jewish detainees generally remained incarcerated in Rivesaltes for 12 to 18 months before being deported to Drancy and from there to killing centers. However, during 1942, some internees managed to secure official release. Social workers and nurses from the OSE (Oeuvre secours aux enfants), Secours Suisse aux enfants and the AFSC (American Friends Service Committee) were allowed to provide relief services in the camp and even to arrange for the transfer of interned youngsters to children's homes elsewhere in France. Nearly 600 children were thus removed from Rivesaltes, most of whom escaped deportation.

    Rivesaltes was divided into ten sub-camps, each fenced in by barbed wire. Men, women and children were housed separately. Only Roma were allowed to live in family units. Internees suffered from malnutrition, disease from surrounding swamps, and exposure to heat and cold. Rivesaltes ceased functioning as an internment camp in November 1942, following the deportation of most of the Jewish prisoners to Auschwitz (via Drancy), and the transfer of the Roma to other camps. After the liberation of France, Rivesaltes was used as a POW camp for captured Germans.

    https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/france.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Hilda Tayar
    Source Record ID: Collections: 2005.186.1

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Biography
    Hilda Tayar (born Hilda Krieser) is the daughter of Shlomo Krieser and Perla Katz Krieser. She was born in Koln, Germany on March 14, 1924. Shlomo was born in Oswiecim (Auschwitz) on January 5, 1896, and Perla was born on June 15, 1899 in the small town of Sborov, near Lvov. The family immigrated to Antwerp, Belgium when Hilda was a baby, and her younger sister Anny was born there on September 4, 1929. The girls' parents worked together in the clothing business. Perla worked as a seamstress making the clothes that Shlomo sold. The family was quite religious and belonged to the movement "Tnua Tikvatenu." On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Belgium, and three days later, the family escaped by train to France enduring bombardments and interminable stops. They arrived finally in Toulouse and from there were sent by French authorities to a village in Tarn et Garrone. After learning their relatives were in Luchon, the family decided to join them. Their happiness was short lived. Soon afterwards, the French police arrested them and sent them first to Agde and from there to the Rivesaltes internment camp. Conditions there were terrible. The barracks were cold in the winter and hot in the summer, and the family did not have appropriate clothing or adequate food. Hilda eventually noticed that the Secours Suisse operated a home for small children in the camp. She approached the director, Elsa Ruth, to ask for work, in order to find useful activity and receive better food. Mlle Elsa later arranged for Hilda and Anny to transfer to Pringy, a Secours Suisse children's home in Haute Savoie run by Ruth von de Wild. The sisters arrived in Pringy in November 1941 and remained there for almost year, until August 1942 when French policemen ordered them to return to Rivesaltes to "reunite" with their family prior to deportation. When the girl's mother learned that they were on the deportation list, she ran immediately to the Red Cross hut to see Friedel Reiter. Friedel went to the director of the camp who called Maurice Dubois, director of the Swiss Red Cross in France hoping to get them out. However, since they already were on the list, they could only officially be taken off if two other girls went in their place which they were unwilling to do. Instead, the commandant of Rivesaltes told them to run away as they were waiting in the line for the cattle cars. Friedel Reiter then hid them in a storage hut until the transport left. Freidel also brought other small children to this hut and told Hilda and Anny to watch them so they wouldn't cry. They remained there for three days. Then, with the help of the Red Cross and Andree Salomon, they returned to Pringy where they remained hidden among Christian children until after liberation. Hilda helped care for fifteen children using the false name of Helene Rambaux, and Anny kept her own name.

    At the end of the war Hilda went to Annecy and found work caring for a family's children. It turned out that this family was Jewish, and she went to live with them in Avignon. Anny remained in Pringy until the home closed. Afterwards, Hilda brought Anny with her to Grenoble where she took courses in stenography and worked for ORT. Hilda later worked in a maternity clinic. In February 1947 they met Jabotinsky's son Eri who was escorting a transport of concentration camp survivors to Palestine. He suggested that they join as well. Two days later they set sail on the Ben Hecht to Haifa. The British would not let the ship land and interned the passengers in Cyprus. After 14 months, Hilda and Anny arrived in Palestine on April 28, 1948.

    Hilda's mother, Perla Krieser, was deported to Auschwitz on transport 31, on September 11, 1942. Her father, Shlomo Krieser, was deported on August 26, 1942 on transport 24. Shlomo and Perla both perished in Auschwitz, Shlomo's hometown.
    Record last modified:
    2006-01-31 00:00:00
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/pa1157169

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