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The Children of Monastery Indersdorf

Anna Andlauer came to see the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen in mid-April 2011 investigating in its archives the subject of “Children in Monastery Indersdorf 1945 – 1948”. She looked through files the child-tracing service had opened on orphaned or missing children immediately after the end of World War II. “I have already managed to find some of these children in Canada, England, Israel and the USA. Now I am going to widen my search to include the East of Europe”, said Andlauer.

Many children and teenagers who had survived the Holocaust and were freed from the concentration camps’ or forced labour’s yoke, found themselves without relatives, food, shelter and accommodation after the war. “These young people were in urgent need of help”, reports Andlauer. “UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) staff was tasked with taking care of these children.” In Indersdorf, a Bavarian monastery, the Allies saw and found the appropriate site to establish the first centre for traumatized children and adolescents in the American zone called “International D.P. Children’s Center, Kloster Indersdorf, Germany”.

A pupil’s paper attracted the attention of Andlauer, a retired Indersdorf teacher, to the subject. Since then, she herself has drawn much interest to the DP Camp. “My intention was to make contact with the children”, recalls Andlauer. “To that end, I have evaluated the reports of a former nurse of the children and published search notices in newspapers in Israel, England, Canada and the USA.” In her eagerness to establish contact, the committed Bavarian did not shun sending postcards to persons she assumed to have been monastery children. “The first answer I received just said ‘Yes, I am Erwin Farkas’. That was back in 2007.”

Meanwhile Andlauer has identified and located more than 50 children and invited many of them to Indersdorf. Her search and contact efforts are backed by the memorial of former concentration camp Flossenburg. “Some of our visitors put their feet on German soil again for the first time after they had left the monastery”, relates Andlauer. “It is a meaningful experience for the children to enter the monastery premises again after so many years”. Besides commemoration and remembrance events, visits to the monastery now converted to a school include talks between its pupils of today and the witnesses of its past. “What used to be dormitories are classrooms today.”

Andlauer wishes to also invite to Indersdorf the children who had come there from Poland, the Ukraine and Russia at the time. “Many of them were repatriated from the children’s centre to their home country”, knows she. “I would like to retrace these fates at the ITS and am hopeful that its correspondence files will help me make contact.”