Landmark historical archive telling the story of ‘The Boys’

A new online archive documenting the lives of ‘The Boys’ was launched by the Holocaust charity, the ’45 Aid Society, this month.

The ground-breaking project led by writer and journalist Rosie Whitehouse and ’45 Aid Society’s Vice Chairman, Philip Burton has revealed previously unrecorded information about the lives of this group of more than 700 orphans.

Rosie Whitehouse
Journalist, writer and ’45 Aid Society’s Historical Advisor

The project, which took over a year to compile, involved extensive research which was undertaken by a group of voluntary researchers. These were actually the grandchildren of these survivors who due to the pandemic, had to work remotely holding with regular weekly Zoom meetings to discuss their findings.

Prior to the creation of this archive, information about this group was quite limited based mainly on what was contained in Sir Martin Gilbert’s 1996 book, ‘The Boys: Triumph over Adversity’ as well as memoirs of some of the Boys themselves.

Research documents


Using records from archives across the world including the British Library and Imperial War Museum in the UK, as well as the Arolsen Archives in Germany, the Holocaust Memorial Museum in US, the USC Shoah Foundation and Yad Vashem in Israel, amongst others, the team were able to build a better picture about the early lives of their relatives.
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This new research has meant that more details have been discovered including how they arrived in the UK, where they stayed on arrival and who looked after them. A new interactive map has also been created to show their birthplaces.

Interactive map showing birthplaces

One revelation from this research is that there were actually around 200 girls within the group, which is significantly more than had previously been thought and within the archive, a page has been created telling the personal stories of these girls.

Zac Greenberg, grandson of one of ;the Boys’, Victor Greenberg, was part of the team working on this project and feels that it shows that they were “more than just Holocaust survivors”.

“Their stories don’t end with the fact that the Holocaust happened. They created a family, established themselves in a country where they knew nobody and didn’t speak the language so ultimately, it’s a story of resilience and perseverance. I think it’s incredibly important to share that because people can learn from it.”

Zac Greenberg, grandson of Victor Greenberg

Chair of the ’45 Aid Society, Angela Cohen, and the daughter of Moshe Malenicky, one of the ‘The Boys’ told the EJN that she was “delighted” by the results of the archive after so many months of hard work by all involved.

The archive was launched at a two-day conference by the Association of Jewish Refugees earlier this month. A short film entitled ‘Introducing the Archive of the Boys’ was shown to explain the process of creating this online archive and those that were involved in this important initiative.

Angela hopes that the comprehensive online archive which is accessible through the ’45 Aid website, will become a valuable teaching resource for academics, educators, families and historians, as well as children, and will give an opportunity to learn more about what these ‘Boys’ suffered during the Holocaust “to ensure that it never happens again.”

Chair of ’45 Aid Society, Angela Cohen with her son, Robert Rinder
Credit: Melissa Page

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