Figure 1.-- Here we see a Jewish kindergarten, taken in Leipzig during 1938. We know the name of one of the children, Ruth Bild (front row, center). The children when the deportments began were never sure who the next child or teacher would be missing.
Ruth Bild's family was deported to Poland by the NAZIs in 1938. The family managed to reach Belgium, where they were interned in a dentention camp known as Marneffe Camp. When the Germans invaded Belgium (May 1940), the Bild family escaped from the camp and settled in Brussels, hiding from the NAZIs. Ruth was taken to Namur, under pretense of being an orphan, and housed in the Convent du Bon Pasteur with false papers, using the name of Monique Lannoy. Soon afterwards Ruth returned to Brussels to be baptized, but the priest would only baptize the child if her mother (who was in hiding) were present. Ruth returned to convent where she hid throughout the occupation.
We do not have much information on the Bild family at this time. All we know is that they lived in Leipzig and were apparently of Polish origins.
The NAZI Nuremberg Race Laws expelled Jewish children from German schools. Jews were allowed to set up their own schools. As conditions were becoming increasingly difficult for Jewish children, many were releaved to be able to go to their own schools where thgey could study in relastive safty. Jews were gradually being denied any opportunity to make a living. Thus financing became difficult, but there were a lot of teachers and others desperate for any jobs. Here we see a Jewish kindergarten, taken in Leipzig during 1938 (figure 1). The children here look to be about 5 years old which was the Kindergarten age. We know the name of one of the children, Ruth Bild (front row, center). The children when the deportments began were never sure who the next child or teacher would be missing.
Ruth and her school mastes wear a variety of outfits. The children wear long stockings and kneestockings. Notice the boy on the extreme left who wears a suit with button-on shorts. Some of the other boys wear sweaters, one of them with a necktie. Sleeveless sweaters seem popular. One little boy wears a colored pinafore. The girls mostly wear dresses. Ruth wears a suspender or perhapa a bib-front skirt.
Large mnumbers of Poles lived in Germany before World War I. Many moved west from rural areas in the east to get good paying jobs in factories amd mines. Many became Germanized or partially Germanized. Among them were Polish Jews. After World War I when the Poland state was founded, these Poles had the opportunity to obtain German or Polish citzenship, Quite a number did not apply for German citzenship. NAZI authorities in 1938 began to deport Jews of Polish origins. Apparentlty the Bild family was one of the families so affected. Of course in 1938 deportment was not the same as after the NAZIs invaded Poland (September 1939). Still Polish authorities did not want more Jews and the depportees were often harshly treated by the Poles.
Kristallnacht or the "Night of Broken Glass" was a vicious NAZI pogrom directed at NAZI Jews. The pogrom resuilted from the NAZI deportment of Jews to Polasnd. A Polish-born German Jew, Sendel Grynszpan, wrote to his soon describing how he had been expelled to Poland and mistreated. His son Herschel was a 17-year old youth living in Paris. Disdraught by his parents' treatment, he shot the Third Secretary of the German Embassy, Ernst vom Rath. As a reprisal, Hitler personally approved a massive assault on Germany's Jews in their homes and attacks on Jewish synagogues.
The family managed to reach Belgium, where they were interned in a dentention camp known as Marneffe Camp. When the Germans invaded Belgium (May 1940), the Bild family escaped from the camp and settled in Brussels, hiding from the NAZIs. The Bild family is an example of how German Jews often were able to more effectively evade the NAZIs than the local Jews. They had several years to learn about the NAZIs. They learned not to trust them and to carefully plan. Ruth was taken to Namur, under pretense of being an orphan, and housed in the Convent du Bon Pasteur with false papers, using the name of Monique Lannoy. Soon afterwards Ruth returned to Brussels to be baptized, but the priest would only baptize the child if her mother (who was in hiding) were present. Ruth returned to convent where she hid throughout the occupation. Ruth was only reunited with her mother after the Allied liberated Belgium (September 1944). Ruth's uncle Joseph Bild was unable to evade the NAZIs. He was deported and perished. Ruth and her parents immigrated to the United States (1947).
There were about 90,000-100,000 Jews in Belgium at the time World War II broken out in Europe, many were foreign Jews that had already fled the NAZIS from their own countries. During the first months of the occupation, thousands of Jews, especially foreign Jews, fled from Belgium or were deported to neighboring France. As a result, as of late 1940 about 52,000-55,000 Jews remained in Belgium. Hitler apparently had no marked plans for Belgium in the NAZI "New Order" in Europe. This thus had a marked effect on the administration that the Germans established in Belgium. NAZI suppression of Jews in Belgium followed a familar pattern. The NAZIs issued the first anti-Jewish measures in the Fall 1940. These measures suceeded in robbing Belgian Jews of their property. Inpoverished and concentrated it cities, they were now ready for the next step, transport east and the death camps. The killing of Dutch, Belgian, and French Jews began in July 1942 when the Polish death camps became fully operational. Most accounts suggest that the NAZI anti-Semetic campaign which began soon after the occupation had little impact on most Belgians. It was virtually impossible to contront the NAZIs openly. Many Belgians, however, quierly and effectively opposed the NAZIs quiettly and effectively. One author explain that it was these "slent rebels" that saved many Belgian Jews. Belgian clerics were some of the most effective in Europe in helping to rescue the country's Jewish population. The most notable cleric was Father Bruno who saved hundreds of children. There was only so much the Resistance could do in Belgium. Unlike Denmark there was no easy to get to sanctuary. The English Channel and North Sea is difficult waters. mined, and heavily patrolled by the Germans. The NAZIs succeeded in killing about 25,000 Jews who were living in Belgium. Here accounts vary. Some are as high as 40,000. Only 1,271 survived and retuned after the War. Despite the appaling total, the number of Jews saved is a testimony to the support of the Belgian people to their non-Jewish countrymen.
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