Rescue of Children

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During the Holocaust, countless Jewish organizations and individuals worldwide did what they could to save their brethren. While these rescue efforts were initiated by Jews, most would have had little success without the assistance of numerous sympathetic non-Jews.


Organized actions to rescue children began even before the onset of World War II. The Youth Aliyah (a movement founded for the transfer of Jewish children from Germany to Palestine), under the auspices of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem, managed to bring more than 14,000 unaccompanied children to Palestine and Britain between 1933 and 1945. In Great Britain, an umbrella group known as the Movement for the Care of Children organized the travel and shelter of over 10,000 central European Jewish refugee children between December 1938 and September 1939. Since these children traveled without their parents, the operation became known as the Kindertransport.

In France, three Jewish organizations made organized attempts to rescue children. The best known was Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (Children's Aid Society; OSE). Others active in this area were the Eclaireurs Israelites de France (a Jewish scouting movement) and the Mouvement des Jeunesses Sionistes (a Zionist youth movement). Operating nationwide, members of these groups used their institutions to provide hiding places for Jewish children, especially for more vulnerable foreign refugees. They also arranged the release of children from internment camps, and then smuggled them to safety in Switzerland or Spain. On a local level in France, similar activities were carried out by the Comite rue Amelot, the Jewish Communist "Solidarite" organization in Paris, the Service Andres group in Marseille, and the Groupe Maurice Cachoud in Nice, which specialized in secretly transporting children to refuge in Switzerland. Thanks to these efforts, as many as 12,000–15,000 Jewish children were saved from deportation and almost certain death.

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