The Children Of Izieu

The Children Of IzieuDuring the Holocaust, an estimated 1.5 million children are thought to have lost their lives. Of these, more than 1.2 million were Jewish children. While much has been written and taught about the horrors of the Holocaust, many history books skim over the fate of children, primarily because it is simply so difficult and painful to think about what these children had to endure and to consider their short lives. But children were executed without emotion or hesitation by the Nazis, and often met even worse fates. Of these, the story of the children of Izieu remains one of the most painful to consider.
Izieu is a village located in central France, overlooking the Rhone river. An orphanage located there housed a total of forty-four children between the ages of 5 and 17. Seven adults oversaw their care, and, despite being orphans, the children of the orphanage felt safe, secure, and somewhat happy.
On April 6, 1944, the Gestapo arrived in a trio of vehicles. The dread Butcher of Lyon led the Nazis into the building and forcibly removed all of the children and also their caretakers from the building. The children were tossed onto the waiting trucks like sacks of flour, their screams filling the air.
From the orphanage, the children were shipped straight to the collection center located in Drancy. From there, they were loaded onto the next train to the death camps. FIve of the adult caretakers and forty two of the children were sent to Auschwitz, where they were immediately marched into the gas chambers and executed by gassing. The orphanage superintendent and the remaining two children were sent to Tallinn, where they were executed by a firing squad.
None of the Children of Izieu survived, and only one of their caretakers managed to live – Lea Feldblum, a 27 year old.
Klaus Barbie wrote a boasting account of his accomplishment during the activities, and at his trial several witnesses talked of the quick execution of the children that he and his subordinates ripped from their home and sent to die. 
As sad as it is, this is but one of many stories of how the Nazis displayed total, abject cruelty to children during the Holocaust. Other children suffered from months of forced labor, malnutrition, and even experimentation. The children of Izieu were simply executed outright, but that alone is heartbreaking and one more example of the terrible atrocities the Nazis were capable of committing. 

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