Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Preface

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pp. xi-xii

This is a story of heroes of the Holocaust. The heroes are the parents of young Jewish children. The heroes are the women of a Belgian rescue committee. The heroes are young Swiss people who risked hardship in Vichy France over security at home to save refugee children’s lives. They are ordinary...

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Prologue

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pp. xiii-xv

In my desperate situation I appeal in the twelfth hour for help from your organization. In mid-January I will be forced to leave the German Reich. As I do not know where this questionable fate will take me, I beg you fervently for the kindness to accept my only, lovely, and dearly loved daughter...

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1. Please Take My Children

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pp. 1-7

For the Children of La Hille, the takeover of the German government by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or “NSDAP”) on January 30, 1933, was a non-event. The oldest boys and girls were barely nine years old and the youngest was born three...

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2. Refuge in Belgium, 1938–1940

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pp. 8-31

Our Children Became Just Letters—The Rescue of Jewish Children from Nazi-Germany” (“Aus Kindern wurden Briefe—Die Rettung jüdischer Kinder aus Nazi-Deutschland”). That was the title and theme of a historic exhibition held in Berlin from September 29, 2004, to January 31, 2005...

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3. Second Escape, May 14, 1940

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pp. 32-39

On the morning of Friday, May 10, 1940, readers of the daily Brussels newspaper Le Soir found a routine front-page photograph of the Belgian princes Baudouin and Albert opening the Hunting, Fishing, Sports and Tourism Exposition at Brussels’ Centenaire Palace Hall the day before....

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4. Life at Seyre, 1940

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pp. 40-51

When we stepped outside the next morning, we found ourselves in an unfamiliar landscape. Slightly behind the huge barn we noticed a tiny country church, and a little farther along the narrow road rose a tall iron gate. Beyond it stood a gatehouse, the entryway to the Château of Seyre. Our...

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5. The “Secours Suisse aux Enfants”and a Tough Winter

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pp. 52-68

At 9:15 a.m. on September 23, 1940, six caring individuals were seated around a table in a small office above the backyard at 71 rue du Taur in Toulouse, just down the street from the city hall and the historic Place du Capitole. The room was at the French headquarters of the “Cartel Suisse...

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6. The Belgian Angels’ Rescue Effortfrom across the Atlantic

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pp. 69-78

Soon after Mme Felddegen learned of our arrival in France she began determined efforts to bring our entire colony to the United States. She was assisted by Max Gottschalk who utilized his high-level contacts with the Belgian government-in-exile, then located in London. This heretofore unknown...

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7. Life at the Château de La Hille,1941–1942

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pp. 79-102

On February 20, 1941, Max Schächtele addressed a regular Secours Suisse staff meeting in Toulouse, and the impact of his appeal was recorded in the minutes: “it is now Max’s turn. This big talker gave us such an upbeat description of his activities that he literally had us feeling that we...

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8. Internment and Liberation

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pp. 103-117

At the beginning of 1942, the Nazi persecutors made decisions that would soon spell doom for the Jewish populations of Europe. These decisions directly affected the Children of La Hille, although they and their caretakers would...

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9. Hazardous Journeys across Well-Guarded Borders

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pp. 118-142

Although the rescue of the La Hille teenagers from near-deportation was like a miracle, it turned out to be only the beginning of more threats and equally narrow escapes. On September 10, 1942, Maurice Dubois wrote to Mme Goldschmidt- Brodsky in Basel that “truly these past few weeks have been very upsetting for everyone...

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10. The Noose Tightensand More Try to Escape

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pp. 143-176

When the three La Hille teenagers were arrested at the Machilly border station and deported, theirs was already Transport No. 46 from France to Auschwitz. The members of the La Hille colony had feared for their lives ever since forty of their teenage and adult compatriots had been...

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11. Hidden and Surviving in France until the End

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pp. 177-196

Escaping the tightening Nazi deportation net by trying to get across the Spanish or Swiss borders on the sly was known to be very hazardous and therefore not the choice of all the older boys and girls of La Hille, especially after the stories of the failed crossings reached those who were left behind. For...

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12. New Faces at La Hille

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pp. 197-208

W hen the Secours Suisse moved the colony from Seyre to the Château de La Hille in 1941, Maurice Dubois expressed his intention to add French children to the colony, probably to gain favor with the area’s population and...

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13. Those Who Helpedand Those Who Hindered

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pp. 209-220

That twelve members of our La Hille colony (eleven children and one adult) were caught and sent to their deaths in Poland is a lamentable tragedy. On the other hand, the fact that more than 100 of the La Hille children, though persecuted and hunted, survived the savagery of the Nazis...

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14. The Heroes of La Hille

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pp. 221-233

Were it not for heroic action by several groups and many individuals, the history of the Children of La Hille would be a relatively brief obituary of yet another group of innocent victims murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust. This is why their story is not complete without a detailed account of the heroes of this history. They are reported here partly...

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15. After the Liberation

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pp. 234-246

Although the gradual liberation of European countries brought relief and joy to the local population of each area retaken from the Nazis, the massive destruction caused by the military actions, the displacement of people, and the utter shortages of the necessities of life created havoc everywhere...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 247-250

The content of this book is based on a veritable treasury of original letters, documents, diaries, private archives, reports, and citations from professional historical publications gathered on-site in Belgium, Germany, France, Switzerland, and the United States, with virtually no recourse to present-...

Appendix

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pp. 251-252

Historical Timeline

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pp. 253-254

Notes

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pp. 255-284

Index

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pp. 285-306

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About the Author

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pp. 307-308

Walter W. Reed (originally Werner Rindsberg) grew up in Mainstockheim, a Bavarian village near Würzburg and experienced Nazi persecution of Jews, including his own arrest as a fourteen-year-old on Kristallnacht, November 9–10, 1938. In 1939 his...

Back Cover

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pp. 309-309