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Ariège

Région :
Occitanie
Département :
Ariège

Préfets :
Léopold Chénaux de Leyritz
(25/06/1940 - 24/01/1944) Léopold Marie Frédéric Chéneaux de Leyritz, Préfet de Haute-Garonne et préfet régional de la région de Toulouse à partir de 1941 (Ariège, Gers, Haute-Garonne, Hautes-Pyrénées, Lot, Lot-et-Garonne, Tarn et Tarn-et-Garonne et les parties non occupées des Basses-Pyrénées, de la Gironde et des Landes (1896-1970)
) secrétaire général de la sous-préfecture de Saint-Girons (Ariège), résistant
André Sadon
(24/01/1944 - 06/02/1944) André Paul Sadon, Préfet régional de la région de Toulouse (Ariège, Gers, Haute-Garonne, Hautes-Pyrénées, Lot, Lot-et-Garonne, Tarn et Tarn-et-Garonne et les parties non occupées des Basses-Pyrénées, de la Gironde et des Landes (1891-1965)
Jean Cassou
(1944 - 1944) Commissaire régional de la République de la région de Toulouse (Ariège, Gers, Haute-Garonne, Hautes-Pyrénées, Lot, Lot-et-Garonne, Tarn et Tarn-et-Garonne et les parties non occupées des Basses-Pyrénées, de la Gironde et des Landes (1897-1981)
Pierre Berteaux
(1944 - 1946) Pierre Félix Berteaux, Commissaire régional de la République de la région de Toulouse (Ariège, Gers, Haute-Garonne, Hautes-Pyrénées, Lot, Lot-et-Garonne, Tarn et Tarn-et-Garonne et les parties non occupées des Basses-Pyrénées, de la Gironde et des Landes (1907-1986)

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Walter Rindsberg

dit Reed
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Montégut-Plantaurel 09120 Ariège
Nom de naissance: Werner Rindsberg
Date de naissance: 27/02/1924 (Mainstockheim (Allemagne))
Parcours : Enfant ayant séjourné à Seyre, au Château de la Hille, puis Lisbonne (Portugal) et les Etats-Unis
Aidé ou sauvé par : - Maurice Dubois - Rösli Näf
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Walter-Rindsberg
Ruth Herz, Walter Kamlet, Werner Rindsberg et devant Rolf Weinmann au Château de Seyre, 1940-1941
source photo : Ruth Herz Goldschmidt
crédit photo : USHMM
Histoire
Werner Rindsberg (now Walter Reed) is the oldest son of Siegfried and Rika Rindsberg. He was born on February 27, 1924 in Mainstockheim, a rural village in Bavaria where his father was a wine merchant. His family had lived in the village for about twenty-five years and his parents were third cousins. Werner had two younger brothers Herbert (b. 1926) and Kurt (b. 1928). Following the Nazi takeover in January 1933, the family faced increasing antisemitism and on the night of Kristallnacht, November 9, 1938 both Werner and his father were arrested. His father was sent to Dachau, and Werner, who was only fourteen years old, was held with other Jewish youth in a nearby town's prison for three nights and then released. After several weeks, Werner's father was also released. In June 1939 Werner's parents decided to send him to safety in Belgium while seeking for ways for the rest of the family to emigrate. Werner was placed in the Speyer children's home in a Brussel's suburb. One year later, in May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Belgium. Werner and the other 99 children fled by train to Seyre in southern France and settled in the barn of large estate. In February 1941, shortly before Werner's seventeenth birthday, he moved with the other older boys to the nearby Chateau de La Hille to make it livable for the younger children. A few months later, Werner received papers from his mother's sister, Sarah Rindsberg, in New York sponsoring his immigration to America. In August 1941, Werner sailed to America from Lisbon, aboard the Mouzinho. He worked as toolmaker and Americanized his name to Walter Reed. In March 1943, Walter was drafted into the American army as a mechanic in the Corps of Engineers. He arrived in England in March 1944, as part of a replacement battalion and was sent to Normandy soon after the initial invasion. After he arrived in Paris, since he was a native German speaker, he was transferred to a military intelligence unit of the 95th Infantry Division responsible for interrogating German POWs. After the armistice, he worked in counter-intelligence helping with denazification. Among his assignments was to identify and remove University of Marburg faculty who had been active Nazi Party Members. He learned the fate of family and discovered they were rounded up and sent to Izbica and from there to either Sobibor or Belzec where they perished. February 1946 he was discharged.

In the year preceding the outbreak of World War II, nearly 1000 Jewish children from Germany and Austria between the ages of 4 and 17 found refuge in Belgium. Some came individually, others illegally, and some on an organized transport which gathered the children from Cologne. The rescue effort was organized by the Comite d'Assistance aux Enfants Juifs Refugies (CAEJR), an organization founded by Madame Goldschmidt-Brodsky, whose husband, Alfred, was an official of the Belgian Red Cross. Most of the children were sheltered in private homes, and about 80 in two large children's homes. The girls' home, known as the Home General Bernheim, was located in the Brussels suburb of Zuen, and the boys' home, called Home Speyer, in the suburb of Anderlecht. After the German invasion of Belgium in May 1940, the children escaped to southern France. For most of the next year, the 100 children lived in an unfurnished barn on a large farm in Seyre, south of Toulouse. The children were accompanied to France by Lucienne and Gaspard deWaay, a couple who had worked with the children in Home Speyer, and by Elka Frank, director of the girls' home.
The deWaays remained with the children for several months. The older children helped care for the younger ones and worked on nearby farms. Food and clothing were in short supply. The Goldschmidts also fled to France and were living in the town of Cahors. Utilizing their connections with the Swiss Red Cross, they made contact with Maurice and Elinor Dubois, local heads of the Secours Suisse aux Enfants (Swiss Children's Aid), an agency of the Swiss Red Cross, and prevailed upon them to come to the aid of the Jewish refugee children. During the autumn of 1940, the Secours Suisse took charge of the group in Seyre, now under the direction of Alexander and Elka Frank, and brought in badly needed supplies. They also decided to move the children to a more secluded site, the abandoned Chateau de La Hille, which was closer to the Spanish border. In February of 1941, the older boys moved to the chateau to begin renovating it for occupancy. Elka and Alexander Frank followed with the younger children a few months later. Shortly after the move, Roesli Naef assumed the directorship of the home. During the summer of 1941, seventeen of the younger La Hille children were able to leave for the United States through the efforts of of the US Committee for the Care of European Children assisted by the AFSC (American Friends Service Committee). Two other teenagers also immigrated to the US that summer. In August 1942, French police raided the La Hille colony and arrested approximately 40 of the older children, who were then sent to the Le Vernet internment camp to await deportation. Naef immediately contacted Maurice Dubois, who went to see Rene Bousquet, the authorities in Vichy to demand the release of the children. When Dubois threatened to close all the Swiss camps in France, Vichy agreed to free the La Hille youth. After their return to the home in September, Naef began making arrangements to smuggle the older children into Spain or Switzerland. A few were caught and arrested by the border police, but most escaped. Of the original 100 plus children about 90 survived, but twelve teenagers and one adult were deported to Auschwitz and Majdanek. One, Werner Epstein, survived Auschwitz and a death march. During the final year of the war, a number of French and Spanish refugee children also came to live at the La Hille home.

Yad Vashem later recognized both Maurice Dubois* and Rösli Näf* as Righteous Among the Nations : Maurice Dubois* in 1985 and Rösli Näf* in 1989.

29/06/2011
Lien : United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

[Compléter l'article]

History of Walter W. Reed

I was born as Werner Rindsberg in 1924 and raised in Mainstockheim, a village near Wuerzburg, Bavaria. My father Siegfried was a second-generation winemaker and wine merchant. Until 1933, our 900-population community provided a peaceful and pleasant life for the well-integrated 25-30 Jewish families. My father was a founder of the local soccer club, and I was on the boys' team.

All this changed quickly after the Nazis came to power. On Kristallnacht in 1938 all Jewish men and older boys were arrested and put into the county jail, I for 3 days at age 14, while my father and other men were sent to Dachau for 4-6 weeks. Even before, Jewish businesses were harassed, and I was kicked out of the local school.

The events of Kristallnacht and my father's incarceration in Dachau made it very clear that our worst fears were becoming reality. My father would never talk about his experiences in Dachau as he was warned that he would be brought right back there if he ever told about it. I was too young and do not remember the details but, somehow, my parents became aware that Belgium was then accepting Jewish children from Germany as refugees.

In June 1939 they put me on a train to Brussels after equipping me with the necessary clothing and personal items. It must have been heart-wrenching for them because in those days 15-year-olds did not travel alone and certainly not to foreign countries to live with strangers. This is probably why my two younger brothers Herbert and Kurt, then 13 and 11 years old, were kept at home. I found out later that I had been part of a children’s refugee rescue program under which Belgium accepted nearly 1000 German and Austrian Jewish refugee children. Many were even younger than my brothers, so sending them could have saved their lives, too.

When I arrived in Brussels, I was brought to Home Speyer in the suburb of Anderlecht, a refugee center of about 50 boys aged 6 to 16. It was sponsored by a Jewish women's group who regularly took us on outings in their fancy cars and also took care of special needs, such as medical and dental care. The director of our home and staff took care of us, and I was enrolled in a Belgian vocational school to prepare to learn a trade.

For a young boy from a small Bavarian farm village, Brussels was an exciting city with large buildings, department stores, beautiful parks, interesting museums, and excursions to the beautiful Belgian countryside. And there was no more anti-Semitic persecution. By September 1939 as the Germans invaded Poland, war erupted in Europe, and I remember a feeling of tension and foreboding in spite of the boastful songs and radio broadcasts by the Western allies, promising to stop further Nazi conquests.

I will always remember May 10, 1940, when, suddenly, German planes flew over Brussels and radio news reported that the Wehrmacht had invaded Belgium. Two or three days later Mme. Elka Frank, the director of a Jewish girls' refugee home in one of Brussels’ northern suburbs and Mr. Gaspard DeWaay, our home's director, learned that space had been secured on a southbound refugee freight train for their young residents. We packed what we could carry and took the streetcar to the train station. Late that night two of the freight cars were filled by the 100 boys and girls from our two children's homes as the train began its journey to France. The German army arrived in Brussels just two days later.

Our train meandered in a wide and seemingly endless arc through northwestern, western, and central France for days. Five days later we arrived in a small station near Toulouse and were unloaded. On the way, our train was bombed, and we encountered other trains filled with wounded soldiers who had been evacuated from the fast-moving battlefronts. Somehow we obtained food and water from generous French people wherever the train stopped.

From the small train station, trucks took us to a tiny village, named Seyre, about 40 miles south of Toulouse. There we were lodged in a huge barn which belonged to an agricultural property, owned by the de Capele family. On a visit with the aging Mr. de Capele at his nearby chateau a few years ago, I asked him how this site was selected as our camp. He informed me that as war was declared in 1939, the French government was researching and designating properties and locations for refugees, in case the Germans invaded France. This is how he got on the list and we became the occupants of his barn.

It lacked everything as a place to live or sleep. No beds, no mattresses, no running water, no sanitary facilities, no cooking equipment. Yet here we were, almost 100 children with only what we could carry in clothing and personal belongings. Our refugee home directors and staff members had come with us from Belgium and did their best to organize and feed their charges. The older boys and girls (I among them) became the caretakers and teachers for the younger ones. Food was rationed and scarce. At first, we received meager financial support which the Vichy French government paid to all refugees. A few months later our Belgian camp director and his wife returned to Brussels and Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Frank (she had directed the Brussels girls' home) took charge.

With the Germans in control of northern France and the Vichy regime of Marechal Petain in southern France known to be anti-Semitic, we were again in constant danger of denunciation and possible arrest. Everyone knew about the Gurs detention camp not too many miles away. Thus it was forbidden to speak German, not an easy rule because many of the children did not speak French very well.

As life got a little organized, Mr. Frank, who had previously worked as an agricultural specialist in Palestine, got the older boys part-time work helping local farmers, the older teenagers taught and supervised the younger ones in more or less organized classes, and rudimentary amenities were built or purchased for the kitchen and for doing the laundry. The summer of 1940 was not nearly as difficult as the harsh winter to follow, since we lacked heat and adequate clothing. With inadequate food and primitive sanitary conditions, disease, skin lesions, lice, and other consequences affected nearly everyone.

By the fall of 1940 Mme. Marguerite Goldschmidt-Brodsky, the President of the Belgian Committee who had also fled to Vichy France, managed to get the assistance of the Secours Suisse aux Enfants  (the Swiss Children's Aid Society, which was part of the Swiss Red Cross). Their Toulouse-based director, Maurice Dubois and his American-born wife Elinor, assumed responsibility for the camp, supplied better bedding, furniture, and Swiss powdered milk and cheese. The Dubois also decided to move our camp to another location.

They found and rented an abandoned 15th century chateau, the Chateau de La Hille near Foix, about 60 miles south of Seyre. It lacked running water and sanitary facilities. In February-March 1941 the older boys were moved to La Hille and dug wells and latrines and otherwise put the falling-down property in shape for the move of the colony by early spring.

La Hille also was in a remote farm area where a colony of Jewish refugee children was less likely to be detected. A few months into 1941 the Secours Suisse sent Mlle. Roesli Naef, one of its own staff, as administrator to replace Mr. Frank. We had managed to survive a year under very minimal circumstances and all of us learned a lot about survival, self-reliance, and cooperation for the common good. There is no doubt that we all profited from the experience in later life, although there surely are better and more pleasant ways of growing up and learning about life.

Through the efforts of my mother's siblings (all of whom had emigrated to New York City) and the New York-based HIAS organization, I was able to leave France in August 1941 for New York, where I arrived via Spain and Portugal in September of 1941. USA visas were almost impossible to get, as was passage on the few available transatlantic ships. I've never learned how I became one of the lucky few. Certainly my relatives, themselves refugees from Germany, had no contacts or connections with US government officials.

In New York I worked as a tool-and-diemaker's apprentice and attended high school at night. Bernard Malamud, later a famous novelist, was my English teacher. Two years later, in 1943, I was drafted into the US Army and was offered US citizenship. During naturalization, I changed my name to Walter Reed, wishing to be American in name as well as in fact. My Army unit arrived in England some months before the invasion of Normandy and my battalion went ashore about a week after the first landings.

In France I was transferred to the Military Intelligence Service and served in the 95th infantry division under General Patton. Our MIS team's main task was to interrogate German prisoners and civilians near the front lines. After the Armistice, I served with the US Military Government’s counter-intelligence section (among my assignments was to identify and remove University of Marburg faculty who had been active Nazi Party Members--I was then 21 years old and barely had a high school diploma).

Out of the service in 1946, I pursued my education at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a career in public relations. My determined aim was to build a new life and to definitely not be a continuing captive of my past. From 1958 until retirement in 1989, I was director of public relations for the National Automatic Merchandising Association, based in Chicago. I knew that my parents and brothers had been deported and murdered, although not yet how and where. Because of my interest and focus in becoming an American, not a refugee, I lost all contact with my companions from Brussels and France for the next 50 years.

As a result of the interest generated when I was interviewed for the Spielberg Shoah project in 1996 and some discoveries about the fate of my family (and my advancing age, I am 86 now), my wife and I decided to revisit Seyre and LaHille in 1997 with two of our three sons during a 3-week vacation in France. To my surprise, I learned that my wartime companions had held two reunions in the previous 10 years, in Israel and near La Hille, and that they had been actively, but unsuccessfully, looking for me.

Two days after we visited La Hille, two of my former companions (one from Detroit, the other from England) arrived there to commemorate one of our comrades who was killed as a member of the Maquis at age 16, and they found my business card. Ever since, I have been reunited with dozens of my old friends and learned a compelling series of tales of their escapes in World War II and their lives afterward. Currently I am researching archives here and in Europe to write a comprehensive book about the history of the Children of La Hille.

Of the 100 or so youngsters, then aged 4 to 18, nearly 90 survived the war but 14 were deported, a number to Auschwitz. In the last 7 years I have learned their stories, and they are as dramatic and gripping as any others that have been published.

For example, in 1942, a year after I left, the French militia arrested all the boys and girls over 16 and imprisoned them at the nearby Le Vernet internment camp. Soon thereafter, all the inmates of Le Vernet were transported to Drancy and from there to the extermination camps. Yet the intervention of our Swiss Camp Director via Mr. Maurice Dubois in Toulouse (the Swiss official who was in charge of all the Swiss-managed refugee camps in southern France) procured the release of all my camp companions before the train left. Mr. Dubois had gone to Vichy and, with help from the Swiss ambassador, threatened the French Interior Minister with withdrawal of all Swiss aid to French children if he didn't order the release of my camp mates from Le Vernet. The official gave in and my friends were released. All other Jewish Le Vernet prisoners were deported and murdered.

After this rescue, our Swiss camp director encouraged the 16-year-olds to hide or flee across the Swiss and Spanish borders. With the help of our Swiss camp counselors many succeeded, but some failed.

Their stories, their courageous attempts to escape, and some of the failures are documented in several books and films about "The Children of La Hille." In 1998, my wife and I arranged a reunion of the La Hille survivors in Chicago, with over 30 persons attending. In September 2000, we organized a larger one at the original sites in France. Thirty of 55 known survivors and more than 70 persons, including family members and friends from 7 countries, participated, as did hundreds of French citizens, school children, and government officials.

It is interesting to note that nearly all of our surviving companions feel a strong bond with each other, even though our lives have taken many different paths. And many have strong ties to the places and the population where we found temporary refuge during these dangerous and turbulent years of our youth.

16/12/2012
Auteur : Walter W. Reed Lien : The Holocaust Education Committee of the Greater Quad City Area (HEC)

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Auteur : SYLVIE GOLL SOLINAS - terminal



Liens externes [Ajouter un lien vers un article d'intérêt ou un site internet]
1 Rencontre avec Paul Niedermann (Conférence de Paul Niedermann (1h24) enregistrée en mars 2011 au collège d'Estagel dans les Pyrénées-Orientales. Paul Niedermann retrace son parcours entre 1935 et 1945 de Karlsruhe à la Maison d'Izieu, en détaillant son passage au Camp de Rivesaltes. )
2 Page Facebook de Lois Gunden Clemens
3 Lien vers l'éditeur du livre "La Villa St Christophe à Canet-Plage" (La Villa Saint Christophe maison de convalescence pour enfants des camps d'internement avril 1941 février 1943 )
4 Vous êtes venus me chercher (Blog de l'auteur - parutions, conférences, signatures... )
5 Elie Cavarroc, Juste des Nations (M. Elie Cavarroc, nommé Juste des Nations. Référence du dossier n°10002 du Comité Français pour Tad Vashem )
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