Washington Jewish Week covers OTC #general


Iris Posner
 

Washington Jewish Week
February 15, 2001

Telling the Story of an American Rescue

Group seeks information on Jewish children brought to the U.S., saved
from Nazis
by Aaron Leibel
WJW Staff

It all began last year when social science researcher Iris Posner of
Silver Spring saw, Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the
Kindertransport, the documentary about the 10,000 Jewish children from
Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia who were taken into foster homes in
Britain >from 1938 to 1940 and saved >from the Nazi death machine. Weren't
there any Jewish kids who were brought to America under similar
circumstances, Posner wondered?

There were, she discovered after some research at the United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum. "To educate the public and scholarly
community about those American children," Posner and fellow researcher
Lenore Moskowitz have formed One Thousand Children (OTC), Inc., a
nonprofit located in Silver Spring.

Posner, 56, a former researcher at the National Institute of Mental
Health and the Social Security Administration, seems to be a good fit
for the task. "Since I was a little girl," she says, "my pleasure has
always been to go to the library to do research. I have always been
aware of Jewish heritage," continues Posner. "I can write, research,
make films [her resume includes a certificate in film production from
New York University], interview. This has come to my door and I accept
the challenge." "Most important, it is the right thing to do."

Moskowitz, also 56, has research qualifications as a trade analyst at
the Federal Trade Commission. Using the documents of U.S. groups
involved in the rescue effort, including the American Friends Service
Committee, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, German Jewish Children's Aid
and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, OTC has identified
1,054 unaccompanied children who were brought to the United States in
the 1934-45 period and placed in foster homes. She believes there were
about 125 more children who have yet to be found.

It was primarily a private-sector effort, says Posner, with those
charitable organizations raising money and providing logistic support -
especially escorts who accompanied the children on ships to their new
homes. (Posner says records show that some dedicated people spent long
periods of time accompanying small groups of children >from Europe to
American and then getting on another ship to return to Europe to escort
another group.) Before 1941, the children arrived in small groups. There
was hostility to letting foreigners enter the country during the
Depression, and therefore the sponsors wanted to avoid drawing attention
to their charges, Posner explains. The children came in on quotas of
their countries of origin.

After that, hostility lessened as word spread of the treatment of Jews
spread, and the children came in larger groups. In 1941 and ‘42, some
250 Jewish children in southern France were brought to the United States
in larger groups after their parents were deported.

To find American foster families for all the children, appeals were made
to synagogue congregations and Jewish organizations. OTC's mission is to
interview the survivors about this rescue effort, without being
intrusive and maintaining survivor confidentiality for those who want
it.

To that end, Posner says, OTC is working with the USHMM, the Shoah
Visual History Foundation and the Wiesenthal Center. Those organizations
are asked to compare their databases with that of OTC and to contact
people common to both databases, telling them that OTC wishes to talk to
them. That system permits complete privacy for those not wishing to take
part. OTC also will protect the privacy of those survivors who do take
part, says Posner. "Only bona fide researchers will be given access to
OTC data," she says. "They must be doing relevant research and sign an
agreement not to disclose individual information. No identifying
information on any individual will be made public without that person's
agreement."

In addition to interviewing the survivors, encouraging research (Posner
has found only one "comprehensive study" of those children, Unfulfilled
Promise by Dr. Judith Baumel) and setting up its Web site
(www.onethousandchildren.org), OTC has other ambitious plans, including:

* Producing a documentary. Posner says she has been in touch with a New
York film company, which is interested in making the film. However, the
issue is money. She needs to contact foundations that provide money to
make documentaries. (Posner needs to raise money in general, but says
she is "just in the beginning of identifying funding sources." Since
OTC's incorporation in December, she and Moskowitz have been personally
funding the nonprofit.)

* Help OTC children find and communicate with each other.

* Organize a first reunion of OTC survivors. OTC is negotiating with
organizations to finance a reunion, which Posner hopes will take place
next year. * Publish memoirs and related educational materials.

* Maintain an archive of OTC-related materials and organize traveling
exhibitions. So far, OTC has been in contact with 50 survivors. Posner
hopes to have communicated with the estimated 500 remaining survivors
during the next six months.

For information, call 301-622-0321 or
e-mail contact@....

MODERATOR NOTE: Posted to the Discussion Group with permission
from Washington Jewish Weekly.

Join main@groups.jewishgen.org to automatically receive all group messages.