The end of the war

divingintothepast.jpg
 

To listen to this post in French, click below

https://blogginginparis.files.wordpress.com/2007/08/iwasborn.mp3″
 

Claude
Nineteen months old Claude

 

When I was a little girl, I was convinced that I was born by accident. But my parents kept telling me otherwise. My mother had had a miscarriage (or was it an abortion?) in 1942, but as the end of the war appeared to be nearer, they had decided it was time to have another child.
Gitta always told about how she got pregnant the first time, in 1933. Joseph and Gitta then lived in Trouville, and earned their living going from open air market to open air market in Normandy.
During the war, my parents had had to go from place to place, starting from Deauville, where Gitta had taken her driver’s license. They had travelled through different areas of France, always trying to flee the German occupant. They finally arrived in the area of Issoudun in a hamlet named Thoiry, and sent my brother to a boarding-school when they got there.
On September 24th, 1944, I was born in Issoudun. Gitta‘s story was that I was the only girl born in the hospital that day and that I had curly black hair which was immediately combed by the midwife, who proudly walked me from room to room because –said my mother– I was so cute!
Joseph‘s story was that when he went to Issoudun to see his newly-born daughter, he rode his bicycle for the 15kms between Thoiry and Issoudun in the middle of corpses and destruction: the German armies were leaving the area and there had been heavy Allied bombardments.
When they brought me back to Thoiry, one of their neighbours had kindly torn some of her sheets to make nappies for the newly born baby. When the war was over, my parents told them they were Jewish and found out that everyone in the farms around had always known.
When I was in my teens, we went back there and I got to meet these kind and generous people who had helped my family through the end of the war and the beginning of my life.

As far as I know, there are no photos of my first year. This photo of me was taken when I was 19 months old, in Deauville.

iwasborn.mp3

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10 thoughts on “The end of the war

  1. It warms my heart to hear about the kind and brave French neighbors who protected your family with their silence. The usual war tales are about betrayal, greed and cowardice. Your family was so fortunate and obviously had earned the respect of their neighbors.

    You were indeed a cute kiddo. Just look at those cheeks and sparkling eyes. Tamar posted a photo of herself around the same age. You both have the most curious, lively and completely appealing expression. Thanks for sharing. I don’t believe I have a single photo of myself until my late teens. At least I never remember seeing any. That’s a loss for me but I shall imagine I was as adorable as the two of you!
    More memoirs, please.
    love,
    lucyd

  2. My, what a beautiful little girl you were! I do enjoy hearing about memories of others during times past. I often find myself trying to relate more closely to events described, by recalling what was happening in my life during those same times.

    I can’t help thinking what difficult and trying times your parents were living through, trying simply to have a decent life. I’m sure once you were in their lives they were doubly dedicated to trying to protect you from the realities of the situation they were facing. They, also, must have felt a significantly increased sense of responsibility to insure your well being.

    I remember during those years, beginning when I was still in
    elementary school, and periodically throughout my life, often triggered by some news story, wondering how I would have behaved during those times. I am so glad you were spared those years of trial your parents experienced.

    I don’t think any of us who have never had to live under such threatening circumstances can possibly know what that must have been like. How much it would have meant to your parents if they could have known and trusted completely that they would not be betrayed. To live with the day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute uncertainty that existed then, took incredible courage. You should be very proud of them.

    I’m also very appreciative of being reminded that there were people during those years who did not lose their humanity. I would like to believe there were others whose stories we may never have heard. I want to believe there will always be people who will do the same should the need ever arise, but I don’t want the need to ever arise.

    What I really want to believe, though the times in which we live make it difficult, is that no individual or group will ever again be forced to experience the kind of environment your parents had to endure.

  3. What a moving story! those years were difficult for so many people. Today we have nearly forgotten the hardships of the ’40’s.
    Your photo is adorible… delightful smile and chubby cheeks…best of all there seems to be a twinkle in your eyes.

  4. yesterday i read this, showed husband. both found the post so powerful.
    claude, in so few words–yourself,
    your family–it is all there. we lucky americans, even those of us who are jewish and
    imagine we have a higher sensibility to the holocaust, we have not a clue
    about the lived life you describe. sunday night we watched a public TV
    program “Long Way Home” about survivors’struggle to get to palestine between
    1945-48. i celebrate your writing about this, the little girl you were then,
    and hope reminders will shake the complacent to never forget.

  5. claude, earlier i left a comment about how wonderful your words are.
    but it did not go through. rather than repeat it all, here’s a note
    of thanks for keeping us reminded about the past we’d like to forget.
    yours, naomi

  6. For over 2 years, while ages 12 and 13, I lived in St. Germain-en-Laye, outside Paris (my stepfather was an American army officer, serving with NATO). French was my first non-English language, and I still use it whenever the occasion arises, but it is too seldom. I truly enjoy reading your words in English while listening to you relate the same stories in French. And it goes without saying that I truly love your photographs of Paris and its environs. Thank you so much for enriching my life.

  7. What a wonderful, wonderful story Claude. Thank you for sharing this beautiful part of your history with us. And the photo….YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE. What a very sweet face. Take care….

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