OSE documents

The hamlet of Les Bordes is located between the towns of Issoudun and Vatan, in central France. Our guardian, poor as she was, tried her best to feed us but, unfortunately, her best was not very good. The fare consisted principally of pumpkins prepared in a variety of ways.

Boys and pumpkinsAfter a few weeks of non-stop pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, pumpkin salad, pumpkin ratatouille, etc., our parents heard of a Jewish organization which harbored children, either smuggled out of the internment camps at Gurs and Rivesaltes or left behind by their parents.

This group, OSE, acronym for "Oeuvre de Secours de l'Enfance," was an organization originally founded in czarist Russia at the time of the murderous anti-Jewish pogroms in the late 1880s.

We were taken to the castle of Le Masgelier, near Guéret, in Central France, an OSE-operated children's home, by a man who was accompanying his own children there.

OSE had four regional offices. The one in Valence was run by Robert Ebstein, known as "Evrard," and by Fanny Loinger, known as "Laugier." They had 400 children under their purview. Three basic principles guided the entreprise:

1. Disperse the children into non-Jewish environments.
2. Provide each child with an Aryan identity.
3. Trust arrangements to personnel who are, or appear to be, non-Jews.

Clerical errors are nothing new, as may be seen on the admittance form to OSE: "Father businessman in Luxemburg; attempting to get to Switzerland; nabbed and taken to the Rivesaltes Camp; from there deported in August–Sept 42."