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Sixty-three years ago, on September 24th, my father rode his bicycle from Thoiry to Issoudun to meet his newborn daughter. The war was not over yet, but the German armies were starting to leave and there had been heavy bombing in the area. Joseph always said that there were corpses and burnt cars on each side of the road.
From what Gitta said, getting me into the world was a breeze. She claimed that when I got out, her belly went down with a plop and that she started giggling, which made the matron worry! I always thought that she had made that part of the story up! 😉 I was the only girl born in the maternity ward and I had brown curly hair that the matron combed, and apparently, she paraded me around, showing of my curly hair.
When they took me back to Thoiry, the hamlet where they hid during the last part of the war, a kilometre away from Saint-Georges sur Arnon, and some 10 kms from Issoudun, Solange, who lived on the farm opposite, had torn sheets into nappies that they gave my mother for the newly-born baby.
I wish I had written down all the stories that my uncle Victor, my aunt Fanny and my parents have told me. I was quite upset, when I started writing this because I looked for Solange’s last name in my memory, and it wasn’t there any longer. I phoned my brother, who was ten at the time. He remembered Solange very well, and also her two sisters, Louisette and Paulette, but couldn’t remember their last name either. How unfortunate, when you think that these wonderful people knew all along that we were Jewish, and never said a word.
When the war was over, and my parents were ready to go back to Deauville where they lived before the war, my mother went to thank those kind people for everything they’d done to help them and said:
You know, Solange, I have to tell you. We are Jewish. We couldn’t tell during the war, but now I want to tell you.
And Solange said that they had known all along.
Without Solange and all the wonderful people like her, I wouldn’t have been around to celebrate my 63rd birthday, yesterday, with my daughter.
Edited September 27th, my brother finally managed to remember the last name of Solange’s family. The Perrot family from Thoiry who welcomed and helped our family through hard times certainly deserved to have their name remembered. Thank you.