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One Thousand Children

Title: One Thousand Children
Inclusive Dates: 1896-2007
ID: RG 1941
expand icon Administrative/Biographical History

The “One Thousand Children,” also known as the OTC, refers to the approximately 1400 children, nearly all Jewish, who were rescued from Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied or threatened European countries during the period 1934-1945, by organizations based in the United States and in Europe, or by individuals. The OTC child had to have fled from Europe directly to the United States. Importantly, the OTC refers only to those children who came "unaccompanied," and who were forced to leave their parents behind in Europe.  In most cases, one or both of the parents of these children were murdered under the Nazi regime, as were their extended families.  The age of an OTC child had to be sixteen or less (in actuality the youngest was a baby of 14 months). The OTC children were placed across the United States, either with "foster" families, or in institutions such as converted orphanages.

The “One Thousand Children Organization,” officially known as the OTC Inc., was incorporated in 2000.  The mission of the organization was to “discover” and locate OTC children, and the individuals and organizations that made rescue and resettlement of the OTC children possible; and to make this story part of the fabric of the world’s historical record.  OTC identified 1,400 OTC and located about 600 of them; established an extensive website which is now at www.OneThousand Chldren.yivo.org, conducted and supported scholarly research and publication.

In  2013 the organization OTC Inc. was disbanded.  At that time all its records were transferred to YIVO.  They are the contents of this collection RG 1941.

Dr. Judith Baumel-Schwartz of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, whose own siblings were OTC children, states in her book Unfulfilled Promise, that most of the refugee children were ultimately placed in large cities, with approximately 27 percent in the greater New York area. Cities having between 2 and 10 children included Albany, Bridgeport, Buffalo, Columbus, Dallas, New Orleans, and Omaha, while cities including El Paso, Houston, Manchester, Nashville, Oklahoma City, Providence, and Spokane each resettled only one refugee child apiece.

As part of the official agreed upon terms of the various rescue organizations, "foster" families in the United States had to care for the children until age 21, provide for their educations, and help insure that they would not become public charges. Most of the children were placed in the homes of co-religionists, and were assigned a social worker from a local social service agency who oversaw the children's resettlement and adaptation process.

The main organizations involved in the rescue of the OTC children were the “Joint” (American Joint Distribution Committee,) the Brith Sholom Lodge (Philadelphia), the German Jewish Children's Aid Society (GJCA), the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), and the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE). Among the noted individuals involved in the rescue of these children were Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus, Kate Rosenheim, Cecilia Razovsky, and Martha Sharp (later Cogan) and Waitstill Hastings Sharp.

In the above, the Krauses were a wealthy, philanthropic Jewish couple from Philadelphia who in 1939 obtained 50 unused United States quota entry visas, which they filled with 25 Austrian Jewish boys and 25 girls. (On arrival in the United States, these children were first taken in by the Brith Sholom lodge of Philadelphia.)  Kate Rosenheim was Director of the Children's Emigration Department of the Central Organization of Jews in Germany, while the American-born Cecilia Razovsky served as Assistant to the Executive Director of the National Refugee Service. Waitstill Hastings Sharp was the minister of a Unitarian church in Wellesley, MA, while his wife, Martha, was a social worker.  The Sharps were involved in humanitarian work and social justice, and in 2006 were honored posthumously by Yad Vashem as "Righteous among the Nations" for their wartime rescue efforts.

The story of the OTC children is similar to, but also importantly different from that of the Kindertransport children. During Nov. 1938-Sept 1939, the Kindertransport children were rescued from mainland Europe to Great Britain, but they were forced to come "unaccompanied" and leave their parents behind . They were placed in “foster” homes and/or in institutions, but not necessarily of co-religionists.  These Kindertransport children were resettled in England with the aid of Jewish organizations and the British government. Most importantly the British government waived all visa requirements. In important contrast, the United States did not waive any visa requirements for most of the OTC children  (Dr. David Wyman, author of The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust 1941-1945.) .

Among the OTC children included in this collection are the late Dr. Herbert Freudenberger, a well-known psychologist and the author of Burn-out: The High Cost of High Achievement (1980), the late Bill Graham, an impresario and the rock concert promoter of musical bands that included the “Grateful Dead,” the late Dr. Henry Arthur Lea, an American interpreter at the Nuremberg trials, Richard Schifter, a lawyer, former United States diplomat, and Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs from 1985-1992, Dr. Jack Hans Steinberger, the Nobel Prize winner in Physics (1988), and Arthur Hans Weiss, a lawyer and United States military counter intelligence figure who found Adolf Hitler’s last will and political testament after having been dispatched to Munich in autumn 1945.

The non-profit One Thousand Children Inc. was founded in 2000 by Iris Posner and Leonore Moskowitz shortly after Posner learned about the Kindertransport story.  She was intrigued by the question of whether there was an American version of the Kindertransport effort.  The name of the organization stems from the approximate number of names of refugee children Posner and Moskowitz uncovered while researching ship manifests and other documents.  Subsequently, they uncovered the names of approximately 400 additional refugee children.  Posner and Moskowitz made concerted efforts toward locating surviving OTC children and found about 600.  Nearly all of these were  themselves unaware of the broader story behind their rescue and resettlement in the United States.

In 2002, a three-day International OTC Conference and Reunion was held in Chicago.  Approximately 200 attendees, some second-generation OTC (children of the OTC), some third-generation granchidlren OTC, and many spouses.  About  50  OTC and second and third generation spoke.  Importantly, “foster” family members, and rescuers from rescue organizations were also present and some spoke.

Author: The “One Thousand Children,” also known as the OTC, refers to the approximately 1400 children, nearl
expand icon Administrative Information
Acquired: 2010.
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Acquisition Note: Iris Posner; Henry Frankel; Claire Pingel
Collection Material Type: Collections
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