Private Relief Organizations: International Help for Children Organization

Figure 1.--This 1957 press photo shows German and Polish refugee arriving in London by trian. We think that they are probably not orphans but part of fmilies stuck in West German refugee camps. Their parents probably did not want to return home to Communist dominated countries. The children are apparently being treted with a holiday in England. The press caption read, "Children's Hour: Smiling from their train window, 4 "forgotten children" displaced youngsters who have spent most of their lives in Refugee Camps in Germany, arrive in London, England. They are among 27 children, ranging in age from 4 to 14, whose trip was sponsored by the International Help For Children Organization. Left to Right: Becir Dzugic, 8 of Poland, Eva-Maria Loeding, 7 of East Germany, Erika Schmidt, 11 of East Germany and Irena Warszawski, 8 of Poland. The youngsters will spend 3 months in England living in private homes." The phtograph is dated Decemnber 3, 1957.

We notice press reports about a British group called the International Help for Children (IHC). Before IHC was even chartered Margaret McEwen (1922-2013) and a friend, John Barclay, were aiding Dutch children at the end of World War II. As a result of the German decision to punish the Dutch, the children were starving -- the kinfamous NAZI Hunger Winter. McEven is a fascinating person. She had Irish and Scottish parents, but grew up in London. She was quite an intelligent girl, but rather closeted her protective mother. She attended a convent school. After finishing school she had an opportunity to study abroad. Her mother consented only because it involved living in a convent. Only the convent was in Vienna and McEwen adter 2 years and having learned German would find herself in the middle of the Anschluss and observed first hand the actions against Jews. She used her German to could stead during the War working with Censorship Department of the Ministry of Information. After the War she and a friend, John Barclay, moved by the terrible conditions in the Netherlands in the final year of the War , including the Hunger Winter helped organize a summer stay in Britain for Dutch children (1944). This went on for 3 years. After which she and Barclay decided a more formal organization was needed to collect money and better select cooperating British families. This led to the formation of the International Help for Children (IHC)." IHC was formally organized (1947) The idea was to provide holidays to needy British and European Children affected by the World War II especially refugees and those thrown into poverty by the effects of war. They began working with the refugee children in post-War displaced persons (DP) camps, most located in West Germany. We also see aid the French children. They may have been the children of French World War II POWs. Here in the photograph we see children still in DP camps during 1957 more than a decade after the War arriving in London (figure 1). We note other British programs assisting undernourished European children after the War. These children do not appear to be undernourished and it is more than a decade after the War. This appears to be an effort to get them out of a camp for a brief period. Nor is any other information available on the children. The children are probably not orphans, but they are the children of families still living in the refugee camps. One of the problem emptying the camps was that many people did not want to return to their homes in Commnunist dominated Eastern Europe. IHC was active in quite a number of countries. A British reader notes that the IHC was active in Norway. And we see the IHC hosting Lithuanian refugee children to Britain (1960s). We think they were being cared for in Norway. The IHC operated for for 53 years when it was converted into the Margaret McEwen trust which is involved in other charitable actuvities.


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Created: 1:22 AM 8/19/2018
Last updated: 12:45 PM 9/5/2018