Friday, January 27, 2012

'The Windermere Boys'

Grasmere near Windermere in central Lakeland.
The green and pleasant land that is the English Lakeland

'The Windermere Boys' were young Jewish survivors of the Holocaust of WW2. After the end of the war they came from the horrors of the death camps to this green and pleasant land. There was a life worth living after all. 

For additional information click on 'Comments' below.


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

In August 1945 approximately 300 young Jewish boys, survivors of the European Holocaust of WW2, were airlifted to RAF Crosby-on-Eden near Carlisle. They were taken onwards by coach through the green and pleasant land of the English Lake District to the hosel at Calgarth, Windermere. After the horrors of the Holocaust, the war, the loss of close family and friends and starvation these young Jewish boys had found a haven. Or was this Heaven that they had found?

This group of children became known as 'The Windermere Boys'. For once, they had a bed to sleep in with clean, white, bed sheets There was food on the table - and seemingly pleanty of it. This may have been wartime Britain with strict rationing in force. But for some of these children who had known real hunger in the concentration camps regular food on the table was a luxury. Many of the children used to stash food away in case this the time arrived when, once again, there was no food on the table!

'The Windermere Boys' also found freedom, fresh air, green fields and blue skies, at least some of the time - this was Lakeland after all. 'The Windermere Boys' did not stay in Windermere for long. The orphaned boys were found homes throughout Britain, with many finding a home among the Jewish commuity around Manchester and Salford.

But the first days of welcome freedom at Windermere were not forgotten. The Manchester Jewish Museum in connection with the Lake District Holocaust Project, Windermere has collected together an archive of the memories of many of these 'Windermenre Boys'. Contemporary artists in the fields of music, painting, photographs and images have interpreted the collective memory of the 'Boys' to tell their story to the modern world. This was a story waiting to be told and one that should be widely known.

The first showing of 'The Windermere Boys Exhibition' was at the Manchester Jewish Museum in 2012 (29 January - 31 May).

For more information about the Manchester Jewish Museum, click on the following link:
Manchester Jewish Museum

Friday, 27 January, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

For further information about the project to collect the memories of the Jewish children saved from the Concentration Camps at the end of WW2 click on the links below. Thes include photographs of some of the children who were saved. (NB: Ambleside is at the northern end of Lake Windermere).
'From Auschwitz to Ambleside'

The Orphans Who Survived the Concentration Camps (BBC One programme)

Friday, 27 January, 2012  
Blogger Cathie said...

Thank you for this interesting article. I had never heard of this - goes to show, there always more to learn, and you are a wonderful provider of information !

Sunday, 29 January, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Click on the following link to read the BBC News page about the 'Windermere Boys', which includes a photographic slide show of some of the survivors:
New life of Holocaust survivors (BBC News)

It should be pointed out there were girls in the group of 300 Holocaust survivors brought to the North West in August 1945 (40 girls and 260 boys). It was harder for girls of this age to survive in the death camps compared to boys. The boys were preferred for slave labour.

Sunday, 29 January, 2012  
Anonymous John M said...

A hero of mine is Arek Hersh who lives near Leeds. He was one of the "Boys" and is still very much active giving talks about his dreadful experiences during the war.I am proud to have introduced Arek to so many school children over the years - his lessons in history are real.

Tuesday, 27 March, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so interesting just found out my dad was one of the winermere boys horrific unfortunately he died when i was 5 days old ages 38 and never spoke of any of this i would love to know anyone who knew him max gustav lossau photos etc we have very few pics thankyou

Sunday, 14 October, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

January 2015 (70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau)

Windermere: "... the most beautiful place ..." for the survivors

To read an article that appeared in the 'Jewish Chronicle' (1 April 2010) about the Jewish children who escaped the Nazi death camps in 1945 and arrived at Windermere click on the following link:
'The children who swapped the death camps for the Lake District' by Anthea Gerrie (Jewish Chronicle)

According to Minia Jay, who escaped death three times at Auschwitz after being selected by Josef Mengele:
"Windermere was the most beautiful place I had ever seen".
Remembering the Holocaust in South Lakeland 70 years on

In January 2015, the town of Kendal in South Lakeland, a short distance from Windermere, was chosen as one of 70 locations to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on 27 January 1945. Kendal, as the main town in South Lakeland, was presented with a special 70th anniversary candle because of the area's unique role in helping many young Holocaust survivors.

The candle was handed over to the local council a few days before the commemorative events of 26 and 27 January 2015 by Mr Ben Helgott, one of the 'Windermere Boys' of 1945. Mr Helgott and one of his sisters were the only two of their family to survive the Holocaust. In handing over the special candle, Mr Helfgott said:
“This is where I was reborn. It is a great pleasure to be back here and to present the candle. “Being here always brings back nice memories of when my real life began.’’

To read the official South Lakeland District Council story of the official handover of the special 70th anniversary candle click on the following link:
Handover of 70th anniversary Holocaust candle (South Lakeland District Council)

Tuesday, 27 January, 2015  
Blogger Cathie said...

Thank you once more Joseph for this interesting contribution, which I have immediately shared with all my e-friends!

Tuesday, 27 January, 2015  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Thanks, Cathie.

What may also be of interest, especially to the writers and artists within your circle of friends, is the Lake District Holocaust Project (L.D.H.P.). It is partly financed by various bodies and is being well supported by the local community in and around Windermere and also much further afield. At the time of posting this I have yet to visit in person but it has been highly recommeded to me.

The L.D.H.P. is a long term project to tell the stories of the Holocaust and particularly the lives of the Jewish children who first came to the Lake District in 1945 immediately after being liberated from the Death Camps. While the orphaned Jewish children who came to the Lake District became known as the 'Windermere Boys' there were girls in the party as well! But the term stuck and people in Cumbria still speak fondly of the 'Windermere Boys' even though they include the girls as well. These boys and girls have now all grown up but have never forgottten the time they spent in Windermere and the Lake District.

The Lake District Holocaust Project tells not just the story of the Holocaust but documents the life stories of the Jewish survivors who were taken to the Lake District for several months in 1945. Part of the project tells the story of the 'Paradise Route' taken in Cumbria and the Lake District by these young Jewish children after being freed from the Death Camps.

For further information about the Lake District Holocaust Project click on the following link:
Lake District Holocaust Project (website)

Friday, 30 January, 2015  

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