Olivia Bechdel, Melissa Minds VandeBurgt, and Bailey Rodgers at the Basilica looking out over Lyon, France while on their research trip for this exhibition.
Listen to the full episode of Gulf Coast Life where our own Melissa Minds VandeBurgt, Bailey Rodgers, and Emily Murray talk with Mike Kiniry by clicking HERE.
From WGCU reporter Mike Kiniry:
There’s a brand new exhibition on display on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University called “They Were Children: Rescue as Resistance.” It brings the story of the Oeuvre de Secours Aux Enfants’ (OSE) — amazing group of everyday people who worked at great risk to themselves to rescue Jewish children in Nazi-occupied France during World War Two.
During the 1930s persecution against European Jews displaced millions and countries around the world closed their borders and Jewish refugees struggled to find sanctuary. After Germany invaded Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France the deportation of Jewish people was rampant and finding safety was nearly impossible.
In response, the OSE formed complex and secretive rescue networks in order to save Jewish children from deportation. One of those networks was called Circuit Garel. Its members were forgers, educators, social workers, priests, nuns, farmers, and smugglers across France who joined forces to secure the safe passage of Jewish children out of France across the Alps into Switzerland.
“They Were Children: Rescue as Resistance” tells this story through narrative, photographs, and artifacts. Its goal is to demonstrate for visitors how brave, ordinary citizens risking their lives can do extraordinary things under incredibly difficult circumstances.
“They Were Children: Rescue as Resistance” will be on display at the Florida Gulf Coast University Archives and Special Collections until the end of March of 2024. It’s free and open to anyone. The Archives is located on the Third Floor of the Wilson G. Bradshaw Library on the FGCU campus, and is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm.
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