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Rescuing the Children: A Holocaust Memoir [Hardcover]

Elie Wiesel , Vivette Samuel , Charles B. Paul

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Book Description

1 Jun 2002
The organization Oeuvre de secours aux enfants (OSE, or Society for Assistance to Children) saved thousands of Jewish children in France from deportation to Nazi extermination camps. These children were either hidden among non-Jewish families, placed in the 18 children's homes run by the OSE, or selected to escape clandestinely to the neutral countries of Switzerland or Spain. As a result of the efforts of the OSE and like-minded organizations, both Jewish and non-Jewish, about 86 per cent of the Jewish children in France survived the Holocaust. One of the outstanding representatives of the OSE was Vivette Samuel, the author of this memoir. In her book, she describes how, at the age of 22, she accepted the position of resident social worker in the camp of Rivesaltes, set up by the Vichy government to intern foreign "undesirables". Her daunting task was to obtain the interned parents' written consent that would permanently separate them from their children so that the latter would live. In a period of six months, she was thus able to liberate nearly 400 foreign-born children from the camp. She brought to this job great intelligence, linguistic fluency and a character both deeply compassionate and steely in its resolution. She applied these qualities to the other tasks she performed for the OSE outside the camp after May 1942 and repeatedly risked arrest by the Gestapo. Elie Wiesel and Charles B. Paul were among the children helped by the OSE. Their contributions to this book are a tribute of gratitude to Vivette Samuel and her heroic colleagues.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press (1 Jun 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299177408
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299177409
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 18.4 x 23.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,586,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"This testimony by Vivette Samuel is important not only because she describes dramatic events that took place during the occupation of France but also because she brings to light insufficiently known facts about an organization--the oeuvre de secours aux enfants (OSE)--whose devotion to human causes does honor to humanity. I confess that I read this book with a great deal of emotion, because I owe so much to the OSE. It was the OSE that, in June 1945, took charge of the four hundred "children of Buchenwald," [including me]."--Elie Wiesel

About the Author

Vivette Samuel is retired from her career in social work and currently lives in Paris, France. Charles B. Paul, a historian, is professor emeritus in the Humanities Department at San Jose State University.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book 1 Mar 2008
By G. Katz - Published on
This is an excellent book well worth reading. It is the story of one of the many people who saved children, including myself, during the Holocaust.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Little known saga 5 Nov 2006
By N. goodman - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was a very interesting memoir of something that I hadn't known about: camps in France to house, not French jews, but those fleeing from eastern europe and germany. The writer had a great deal of courage! Well done.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some were saviors 22 Jun 2012
By Magda Denes - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's too sad that Vichy French turned over thousands of their French Jewish citizens voluntarily to the Nazi Germans. Thousands of dear children..without any help from the Germans.

Ms. Samuel and some others organized a system of underground rescue for the French Jewish children trapped in wartime Vichy France. Many were saved, still, the personal costs were great because the "saving" also removed children from the love and care of their parents and put into danger those people who put themselves out there to try and save these children.

We can only hope such events never happen again. A great read!
4.0 out of 5 stars Rescuing the Children: A Holocaust Memoir: Purchased at 13 Jan 2014
By dep - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book about a subject that I have never heard much about. It is about Vivette Samuel, a French Jew, who at twenty two began working for the OSE, or, Society for Assistance to Children. The OSE and other organizations saved 86 per cent of Jewish children in France from deportation to Nazi death camps. Compared to other countries that is a high amount of children saved. I very much liked this book, although at times it bogs down a bit. What helped was the author explaining what her organization did and even where they did it. Most of the children were confined in holding camps with their families. The OSE set up a presence in the camps. They fought so hard to save the children, and were such heroes. What also made the book interesting was the introduction which was written by one of the children that was saved by the OSE. Also, at the end of the book are some accounts of what happened to certain children. It was so inspiring to read about people who just wouldn't give in to the Nazi's. They did everything they could, plus more.
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