Dec 302011
My father, Sergeant Norman Fisher of the 134th Mobile Gun Battalion of the U.S. Army, wrote hundreds of letters to his sweetheart back home when he served overseas during World War II. That sweetheart became my mother and recently I read for the first time the collection of letters my father wrote to her.
In April of 1945, my father wrote that in Gotha, Germany, 3 Jewish Polish refugee teenagers had attached themselves to his unit.  The officers were so taken with these boys that they gave them U.S. Army uniforms and jobs doing K.P. The youngest, 14 at the time, was named Maurice and my father thought the world of him. He, Maurice, had been in 11 concentration camps during the five previous years, including Buchenwald, and both his parents had died in concentration camps.
In a letter five months later, my father reported that Maurice was still in their unit. They were now stationed in Kassel, Germany, and the troops were about to be sent home to the U.S. My father, who had a truck and a driver at his disposal since he was now in charge of supplies, was given the assignment of taking Maurice to the boy’s aunt and uncle who lived outside of Paris, for they had agreed to take care of him until he could be reunited with an older brother living in Brooklyn, New York.
When my father arrived at the home of this aunt and uncle, he discovered that they were old, in ill health, lived in a hovel and could barely fend for themselves no less take on the care of another. And Maurice had no official papers which meant that he had no legitimate right to rations. In all conscience, my father could not leave Maurice here. So there began for him a frantic weekend, trying to find a suitable place to leave the boy. He was advised to leave him at the Polish Refugee Center in Paris, but others told him that this was a terrible place. Finally, at the eleventh hour, my dad discovered a chateau outside of Paris that was said to care for Jewish refugee children. Thus on Sunday, September 16, 1945 he took Maurice to this chateau where he learned that he would be fed, clothed, given papers and where he would find the fellowship of others in his situation. My father agreed to leave Maurice there. They saluted each other in farewell.
Sadly, my father did not provide Maurice’s last name in his letters, nor the name of the chateau outside of Paris where he left him on that date. Most likely there was further correspondence between him and the boy, but it has not survived. If Maurice is still alive, it is likely that he is living in New York, in my own city, which is where he so fervently wished to be with his brother. It is one of my dearest wishes to find him. Any help that you can offer in this quest will be so greatly appreciated.
Maxine Fisher;  email:
Jun 282011

In The Lost Children, Tara Zahra tells the heartbreaking stories of child survivors of World War II, whose fate was often decided by ideological battles, policy debates, and lingering ethnic tensions

Young Jewish displaced persons in Naples, Italy, en route to Palestine, 1945.

At the end of World War II, several hundred teenage boys who had managed to survive Buchenwald were invited by the Frenchgovernment to recuperate at a group home near Paris. One evening, the Buchenwald boys, as they became known, were served Camembert cheese as a special treat for dessert. To the shock of the (Jewish) staff, the boys began hurling the Camembert at the walls: Unfamiliar with the runny, smelly cheese, they believed that they were being served poisoned food, or else rotten food that wasn’t good enough for ordinary children.

This incident, recounted by Tara Zahra in her superb new book The Lost Children: Reconstructing Europe’s Families After World War II (Harvard), is almost comic. But it hints at the profound challenges that faced the social workers and psychologists who made it their mission to help the youngest victims of the war. With the best will in the world, how could you gain the trust of children who had spent their youth in a place like Buchenwald? Even the experts, Zahra shows, despaired of the task.

Source: The Tablet Magazine
Read the full article here: Lost And Found

Jun 212011

The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) acknowledges the significant step taken today with the passage of legislation by the Lithuanian Seimas (Parliament) which provides for limited compensation for communal and religious property owned by the Jewish community of Lithuania before the Holocaust.

The law offers a small measure of justice and material compensation for those whose lives and communities were destroyed in the Holocaust.  In addition, some funds will be available in 2012 to assist needy, elderly Lithuanian survivors of Nazi persecution with medical and welfare needs.  Douglas Davidson, the U.S. State Department’s Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, remarked that “these complicated discussions, involving Lithuania and the WJRO, led to an important step being taken which addresses the historical record.  I very much hope that this will serve as an impetus for other governments to act appropriately.”

Source: World Jewish Restitution Organization.
Read the rest here: WJRO: Lithuania Property Law Is a Measure of Justice.