13 Homes for Refugee Children of the O.S.E. Union in France (1940)
Ernst Papanek and Jewish Refugee Children
Maybe you will be surprised that I'm writing you from France, or maybe you have already heard that I've been in France since March 8th. I feel splendid and am very happy to be out of Germany. I am here with about 57 children in a wonderful home close to Paris, approximately 10 miles from the city. We have an enormous park with two lawns where we play during our free periods. The food is excellent and I have already gained 11 lbs and have become much taller. Bur that is also because of the
... of climate. Early in the morning we have gym. After breakfast we have classes until twelve. We have physics, French, English, German, drawing, mathematics, geography, general culture, etc. We also have games during part of our free time. In the afternoon we have class for one hour and then we are free. There are big houses for the children; all of them belong to the Union OSE, which is a wonderful organization. Our houses have a general director who is very kind and the houses also have their own directors, who are also very kind. Our director also teaches gym and crafts. Now we are making pretty leather things. Before that we did basket weaving and we'll soon have a workshop for carpentry and book-binding. Next time maybe I'll write part of my letter in English and you can do the same if you like with your whole letter. We made a six hour auto trip through Paris, and we saw a lot of things. It is impossible to give you all my impressions of Paris. (2) I can only say that the song is certainly right: "Paris, thou art the most beautiful city on earth." We went to some of the Paris museums. We went to the zoo, too, where even the wild animals are only kept away from people by deep ditches of water. There are no cages. If possible we're going to Versailles soon and some time maybe to the sea shore. We have also been to the circus already. Just now the children from the "St. Luis" are with usthe boat that was not allowed to dock in Cuba. These children are going to have their own home. My parents hope they will be able to go to England soon: let us hope that they will make it. A few weeks ago we had a big opening festival in one of our homes. There were about 400 people and also some barons. We did a lot of funny things. I was a negro and they painted me with cocoa. I was dressed in a straw skirt and a necklace of dried macaroni, which was supposed to be the bones of my Open Access.