FRENCH CHILDREN OF THE HOLOCAUST

A memorial
Serge Klarsfeld  

 
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are exceptions, we have used Yiddish names for children born in Poland, when we knew them, and French names for children born in France, when these were listed or when we found them in verifying documents. The French spelling of a number of Yiddish first names varies considerably. As with last names, we have retained the spelling in written documents rather than impose standardization. We found some first names on deportation lists that we did not recognize, either because they were misspelled or because they were original creations of parents that had been accepted by civil authorities. These names were also retained as found.

In some cases, particularly but not exclusively in the convoys sent to Bergen-Belsen in May and July 1944, documents listed a name followed by the notation "child." That designation has been kept, as have the notations of children without family names, typically described as "Child without identity" or "Child Number 126." We must assume there were more unidentified children than the lists indicate; several children whose deportation has been authenticated are not found on the deportation lists.

Dates of Birth

This volume includes only children who were under 18 years of age on the day of their deportation. Thus, the dates of birth of these children may range from March 27, 1924 (for those who were 18 on the date of the first convoy from France), to August 22, 1944 (the date of the last convoy, sent from Clermont- Ferrand). To the best of our knowledge, this rule has only one exception – Louise Jacobson, whose personal testimony was particularly important. She was arrested at 17 and was imprisoned for nearly six months before being deported after her 18th birthday. But her letters from Fresnes Prison, a sampling of which are included with her photograph, were written while she was still 17.

There are a number of cases in which only a child's birth year is known. Since the demands of computerization require a full date, these children have been assigned a fictional birth date of January 1 of the year indicated. Thus, 01.01.38 indicates only that the child was born in 1938.

Comparisons of the deportation lists held by the Veterans Ministry with those held by the CDJC allowed us to find some missing birth dates, and thus to identify some deportees as children. For example, many hundreds of deportees were chosen in haste and disorder for transfer to Drancy from camps in the Vichy Zone between August and October 1942. They were listed by name but without birth dates or birthplaces. We had been unable to fill in these blanks in the 1978 Mémorial, and therefore did not know which of these victims were children.

In 1989, to support an action against René Bousquet, former Vichy head (Secretary General) of the National Police, seeking his retrial on charges of crimes against humanity, I introduced new evidence that had not been used when he was tried in 1949. The key evidence was the text of a telegram Bousquet sent on August 18, 1942, to all prefects of departments in the Unoccupied Zone. In it, he informed the prefects he was ending a number of exemptions from arrest and deportation, among them some rules protecting children of specific ages. Use of the telegram as evidence required a supporting list of Jewish children
 
   
   

FRENCH CHILDREN OF THE HOLOCAUST

A memorial
Serge Klarsfeld

 
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