Oral History

Beatrice Stern Pappenheimer recalls leaving Gurs and receiving assistance from the Children's Aid Society (OSE)

Beatrice's family lost their textile business and home when the Nazis barred Jews from owning property. The family was deported to camps. Beatrice, her sister, and their mother were sent to Gurs. The Children's Aid Society (OSE) later placed the girls in homes and convents, where they feared Allied bomb attacks, but escaped the horrors of camp life. Their parents perished.


One day my mother takes me to a place where there were other children and a truck, and then we were loaded up on that truck. I said goodbye to my mother, also not really realizing this would be the last time I would ever see her. We said goodbye and the truck went out of the camp. It was broad daylight. There was this organization called the OSE, Oeuvre de Secours [aux] Enfants and they took out as many children as they could out of the concentration camps. And they had homes across the southern part of France. I was moved 14 different times. And uh these homes, they were like chateaus or big mansions and we used to be maybe a hundred, hundred and fifty, two hundred children, in one of those homes. They were, they tried to teach us French and also uh give us...they gave us French uh names like I was born Beata and my name turned into Beatrice. They gave us...we didn't have much schooling. We were really busy trying to, for instance we...to grow vegetables so we would have something to eat. Sometimes we came to these places, they didn't even have enough beds or furniture so the boys would be building furniture, us girls, we would till the soil so we would have something to eat. They use...they used to teach us how to survive in the, in the forest. What grasses, what weeds to eat, because many a times we didn't have enough vegetables, so we would eat off the land. We just...we were constantly moving all the time.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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