The Œuvre de secours aux enfants (OSE) humanitarian organisation was originally founded in Russia and had had its office in Berlin in the 1920s, before being forced to move to Paris in 1933. Here, among other things, the organisation fought to help Jewish refugee children from Germany, and did the same in the camps later on. In 1943, the OSE established a children’s home in Izieu where at least five children from Baden and Palatinate were temporarily protected from deportation. In April 1944, the children’s home was stormed by the Lyons Gestapo and 44 children and their carers were arrested and taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Many people in this photograph can be identified. Standing on the left side: Jacques Benguigui (in costume), right: Max-Marcel Balsam (balancing a hat on a stick), in the background to the left: Arnold Hirsch, in front of him is Théo Reis. From right to left, the adults in the middle are: Philippe Dehan, Marcelle Ajzenberg, Berthe Mehring, Miron Zlatin (director and administrator of the home). In the foreground, from left to right: Paula Mermelstein, Georgy Halpern, Sigmund Springer (head turned), Esther Benassayag, Nina Aronowicz, Claude Levan-Reifman (peeking over the crouching child whose identity is unknown).