Barn where the children lived. Source: www.couleur-lauragais.fr - Author: Jean Odol
This town near Nailloux preserves the memory of some one hundred German Jewish children who stayed here.
The town of Seyre near Nailloux preserves the memory of some one hundred German Jewish children who stayed here. They stayed from the summer of 1940 to the spring of 1941 and left lively drawings on the walls of the Château’s outbuildings.
Having become orphans after Kristallnacht and the wave of anti-Semitic actions that swept over Nazi Germany, many German Jewish children sought refuge in England, Belgium and France, where they were taken care of by charitable organisations.
Driven out of Belgium by the Wehrmacht’s offensive of May 1940, one hundred of them between the ages of 3 and 15 travelled for six days in cattle cars to Villefranche de Lauragais and then Seyre (10 km south of Villefranche de Lauragais and 4 km from Nailloux).
Upon their arrival, the mayor of Seyre and the owner of the Château and its outbuildings, Mr Capèle, took charge of them; at the time the latter held a high position in the French Red Cross.
The refugees’ living conditions were very modest for the eighty-five people (children and their caregivers): two rooms, a kitchen and toilets in the courtyard, no water and no heating.
Finding supplies was the main problem. The Swiss Red Cross, with which Mr Capel d'Hautpoul had contacts, sent sugar and powdered milk, but most of the food had to be found on site, which was very difficult. The basic foodstuff was boiled maize, called milla. The harsh winter of 1940-1941 led the Swiss Red Cross to find more comfortable lodgings for them.
The Château de La Hille in Ariège was chosen. On the walls of the village and the building, which is still called “the orphanage” to this day, the children left several colour drawings, such a the “Little Pigs”, a cat with a violin, the church and a watermill.
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