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Thesis/Dissertation Seminars

Thesis Defense: Searching for Home at Château de la Guette and Beyond: Social and Spatial Dimensions of Jewish German and Austrian Children's Journey to Flee Nazi Persecution via Children's Homes in France

CNH 401
June 18, 2018 @ 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Announcing the Final Examination of Ms. Sarah Schneider for the degree of Master of Arts in History

This thesis analyzes the experiences of a group of Jewish German and Austrian refugee children who were sent on the Kindertransport to France in an effort to escape Nazi persecution. Oral history interviews, personal papers, and archival collections are some of the sources used to examine the social and spatial dimensions of these children's search for home as they fled Nazi rule. Studying the wartime migrations of these children in comparison with the Kindertransport to Great Britain reveals that children who fled to France had diverse wartime migrations and frequently had to search for new homes due to the historical context of France during World War II. Four main paths of wartime migration are explored in detail and exemplified by case studies, and post-war migrations are also discussed.

Additionally, the children's time first at Château de la Guette children's home and then at Hôtel des Anglais in La Bourboule is analyzed from a social perspective. The children's experiences at these homes demonstrate the power of children's homes to provide formative environments and communities for children as they fled Nazi persecution via France. The community built at these homes lasted beyond the group's time living together, and in some cases survivors' connections to the La Guette community lasted throughout their lives. Survivor reunions, post-war visits to homes in Germany, Austria, and France, and survivor reflections on national identities all contribute to an analysis of the enduring impact of children's homes on the lives of Jewish refugee children fleeing the Holocaust.

Committee in Charge: Scot A. French (Chair), Richard Crepeau, Amelia Lyons, Ezekiel Walker