It is an experience that will have marked the OSE children and their supervisors. On Wednesday October 26 and Thursday October 27, a trip to the Milles Camp Memorial Site brought together 50 young people and educators of OSE.
Located a few kilometers from Aix-en-Provence, in the South of France, the Camp des Milles is the only internment camp in France that may be visited. From 1939 through the end of the war, 10,000 foreign people fleeing Nazism, including Jews, were interned within its fences. Of these 10,000, 2,000 were deported in the summer of 1942.
OSE was particularly active in this camp, helping Jewish families to flee to the USA and rescuing Jewish children.
This pedagogical trip was conceived by the educational teams of OSE in the framework of a partnership with the Camps des Milles Foundation.
The first day, which ended with a picnic in the wild and preserved costal national park outside the city of Marseilles, followed by a brief city tour, was marked by emotional moments when returning to the youth hostel: a tribute was paid to the 6 million Jews killed during the Shoah: the young people read texts in their memory as well as testimonies of saved children.
The second day was devoted to the visit of the Camp des Milles. On the road, the young “OSE ambassadors” had the opportunity to listen to a message of encouragement from Patricia Sitruk, OSE’s General Manager, stressing the importance and symbolism of their presence in the historical traces of OSE.
During the interactive visit, conducted by Katy Hazan, historian of OSE, the young people discovered the destiny of 10 children described in OSE’s exhibition The Rescue of Jewish children in France during the Second World War, which is on permanent exhibition at the Camp des Milles. The visit was followed by a workshop of reflection and exchange on the theme of indoctrination.
All together, these young people aged 11 to 16, coming from different backgrounds and hosted in day care centers, children’s homes and foster families, received a lesson and a message of life. Importantly, this was also a new and meaningful step by OSE in the field of educational action against racism and anti-Semitism.