The Jaeger Kaserne (German for Riflemen’s Camp) DP camp in Kassel, was situated in the American-occupied zone of Germany, near Schönfeld Park. During 1947-8, some 2,400 displaced persons lived at the camp. Some had survived the war by escaping eastwards into the Soviet Union with the approach of the German Army, and had moved to Poland and Germany after the Shoah. Others survived in Nazi-occupied Europe.
One of the children who reached the Jaeger Kaserne DP camp was Shraga Rikover. Shraga and his family were in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1939. They were sent to Bialystok, and from there to the Soviet Union. Many of Shraga's family were murdered in the Holocaust. His father, grandfather and grandmother succumbed to disease and cold in Siberia. Only Shraga and his mother survived. During most of that period, Shraga was alone, as his mother had to work to make a living for them.
After the war, Shraga and his mother returned to Poland. A year later, they moved to Germany through the channels of the "Beriha", and reached Jaeger Kaserna. Shraga recalls:
We moved to a large city in Germany called Kassel, and they placed us in a camp called "Jaeger Kaserna". We received a place to live there. Only one room, with nice neighbors. Outside, opposite the house, there was a loudspeaker from which we heard camp news and news about what was happening in Eretz Israel. For the first time in my life, I went to school at age 11. We learned Hebrew, and all the subjects one learns in elementary school. I progressed well with my studies. Within a year, I had completed two [school year] classes. I had a good friend at school, a girl my age who progressed at the same rate, and each time, we moved classes together. At the end of the school year, I received a certificate for completing the 1947/8 study year. I still have that certificate, as a memento of that period….
… towards the end of our stay in Germany, I celebrated my Bar Mitzvah. I received Tefillin (phylacteries ) from the JDC. Someone taught me how to put them on, and also how to pray. They called me up to the Torah (then, I still didn't know that I was a Kohen, and I received the blessing for a Yisrael).
At the school I attended, I received a siddur (prayer book) with a dedication from one of the teachers (probably a volunteer from the US), and in the dedication, she wrote: "See you in Eretz Israel, from your teacher, Rachel". To this day, I never heard from her.
The photographs was taken by Yehuda Dabusis ( Dvir), during the period he came from Eretz Israel to work in the DP camps in Germany in 1947-8. Dvir emigrated to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine) from Ukraine in his youth, and was a teacher at a teacher's college in Jerusalem. In 1947-8, Dvir was the representative of the Education Department at the Jewish Agency, and Director of Education at the She'erit Hapleita (surviving remnant) camps in Germany and Austria. He photographed many classes at the Jeager Kaserna camp, and the teaching staff, all holding the same sign, which read:
"Tarbut" School, Kassel
"Jaeger Kaserna" Adar Bet, 1948
Next Year in Rebuilt Jerusalem
The Jaeger Kaserna camp closed in June 1949. After that, it was used to house US Army units stationed in Germany. Today, the site is a district headquarters for the German Army.
The photograph was donated to Yad Vashem by Ora Rafael, daughter of photographer Yehuda Dvir.
Yad Vashem Photo Archives, 6536/13