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Close-up portrait of either Heniek or Zalman Kaliksztajn in the Ambloy children's home.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 29059

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    Close-up portrait of either Heniek or Zalman Kaliksztajn in the Ambloy children's home.
    Close-up portrait of either Heniek or Zalman Kaliksztajn in the Ambloy children's home.

    Overview

    Caption
    Close-up portrait of either Heniek or Zalman Kaliksztajn in the Ambloy children's home.
    Date
    Circa July 1945 - August 1945
    Locale
    Ambloy, [Loir-et-Cher] France
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Jacques Ribons
    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).]

    https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005131.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Jacques Ribons

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Biography
    Jacques Ribons (born Jakob Rybsztajn) is the son of Peretz Rybsztajn (b. 1905) and Bella (Bajal, b. 1906) Rybsztajn. He was born August 15, 1927 in Strzemieszyce Poland where his father was a textile manufacturer. He had two younger siblings: Bernard (Berek), born in 1929 and Esther, born in 1935. In 1933 the family moved to Zelow, Bella's home town. The family remained there until 1936 when it moved back to Strzemieszyce. In 1939 Germany invaded Poland and later the Rybsztajns were forced to move to a ghetto. Jakob attended a ghetto Hebrew school. Peretz Rybsztajn, his father, worked with or was close with the Jewish Council, but he soon disappeared. After the ghetto was liquidated, probably in June 1943, Jakob and Berek, who were initially hidden, were forced to return and then sent briefly to Bedzin. In September they were deported to the Blechhammer concentration camp where they worked unloading cement from train cars, insulating oil and fuel tanks with asbestos, and cementing steel forms to the tanks. They lived in a barrack with other boys their age, including Kalman and Heniek Kaliksztajn, two brothers also from Strzemieszyce. In January 1945 the Germans liquidated the camp in advance of the Soviet army, and the brothers were sent on a death march via Gross Rosen and by open train to Buchenwald. They arrived in Buchenwald on February 10, 1945, and were placed in the children's block, Block 66.

    Jakob and Berek remained together in block 66 until they were liberated in Buchenwald by the U.S. Third Army in April. The boys in the barrack, under the supervision of Gustav Schiller, the deputy block elder, did not work and received occasional Red Cross packages distributed from other prisoners in the camp. After liberation, the Rybsztajn brothers joined a children's transport to Ecouis in France, sponsored by the O.S.E., where they spent the summer. But they, along with other religious boys, including the Kaliksztajn brothers and Elie Wiesel, were sent to children's homes in Ambloy and Taverny. Jacques later immigrated to Paterson, New Jersey and then enlisted in US army during the Korean conflict. He arrived in New York in February 1947 on board the Gripsholn, a Swedish ship. Berek was adopted by the Homberger family in California. Later he went to Israel and served in the Israeli Defense Forces, returning to California in the late 1950s. Jacques also settled in Los Angeles. The Rybsztajn parents, Perez and Bella Rybsztajn, and their sister younger sister Esther perished in Auschwitz, it is believed, during 1943.
    Record last modified:
    2011-09-09 00:00:00
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