Postwar Youth Mobility and Creating Spaces of Community: Jewish Summer Colonies in France and Poland, 1947–48

Nicole Freeman, The Ohio State University

In the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust, Jewish organizations sought to rehabilitate and care for Jewish child survivors by sending them to summer colonies in the countryside, mountains, and along the ocean. This paper examines a transnational encounter and exchange of Jewish children and youth between the Central Committee of Jews in Poland and the Organization of Polish Jews in France. In 1947, these two organizations worked together to arrange for a small group of Polish Jewish orphans to travel to France and attend a summer colony in Uriage-les-Bains for one month. Then, in the following year, Jewish children from France visited a summer colony in Sródborów, Poland. I draw upon children’s written accounts in order to provide insight into their daily experiences, interactions, and excursions to important sites of wartime memory such as Vercors in France and Auschwitz and the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland. Some children communicated with each other in Yiddish while many others spoke only French, Polish, or Russian. Despite these language differences, they emphasized themes of unity and friendship in their writings. They also made thoughtful observations about the similarities and differences between postwar Jewish life in France and Poland. Studying these summer colonies illuminates how postwar youth mobility served larger efforts to create familial communities and rebuild Jewish life in Europe after the Holocaust.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 125. Youth and Families in Migration