- Close-up of a sign at the entrance of the Gross Breesen training farm, near Breslau.
1936 - 1938
- Gross Breesen, [Brandenburg] Germany
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of George Landecker
- 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, http://archive.uua.org/re/faithworks/fall03/curriculumandlearningresources.html]