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Oral history interview with Sarah Montard

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1281.30 | RG Number: RG-50.146.0030

Sarah Montard, (née Lichtsztejn [SP]), born on March 16, 1928 in Danzig, Germany (now Gdansk, Poland), describes her early life and family; moving to France in the 20th arrondissement in 1930; her mother Maria, who was a seamstress; her father Moïse, who was a non-practicing Jew and gauchiste (political leftist); her entry into the lycée at Porte de Vincennes; the outbreak of war in September 1939; the bombing alerts and their evacuations to the basement; her placement in an OSE-run children’s home in Boulouris-sur-Mer in January 1940; her mother crossing the demarcation line without papers to get her; returning to Paris to begin school in the fall of 1940; her family’s registration as Jews at the commissariat in November 1940 after debating the pros and cons; her father’s decision that registration would give them legal status; her father’s arrest in summer 1941 and incarceration in Pithiviers; her father’s escape in September 1941 and return to Paris to the 20th arrondissement under an assumed name; being arrested with her mother on 16 July 1942 during the Vel d’hiv roundup; arriving at the stadium by bus; her horror at the conditions in the stadium; people with suitcases, babies dying, the elderly and infirm sitting on benches; her mother’s insistence that they escape, saying that, while they were told they were going to work in Germany it was clear from the sick and infirm that that was not the case; how her mother gave her 100 francs, folded her coat on her arm to hide the Star of David, walking straight past a French gendarme, getting on the metro and getting off at Saint-Jacques where her family had friends; meeting her mother in the street; staying first with a Spanish family, headed by a sculptor Gilbert [PH] for six months then with another family for five months; returning to school under her real name; the kindness and fearlessness of her teacher Mlle. Fontaine, who protected her Jewish students as best she could; being arrested with her mother again on 24 May 1944 by French gendarmes; seeing her father approaching their apartment for a visit but seeing what was happening turning back; their transport to Ile de la Cité commissariat where they learned they had been denounced; being transported by bus to Drancy; the conditions at Drancy, including the hay mattresses and families together wearing their finest clothes; inscribing “vengeance” on the walls of Drancy prior to deportation; being deported on 30 May 1944 from Bobigny by cattle car; arriving at Birkenau; the procedures for registration, tattoos, disinfection, and roll calls; the selection for work brigades in August 1944, and her mother not revealing she was a seamstress so she could remain with her daughter; working in the fields outside the camp digging ditches and seeing the trains from Łódź arriving at the gas chambers; being separated from her mother in October 1944; her mother staying in Birkenau while she was sent to Auschwitz; the beginning of the death march in January 1945; going first to Gleiwitz, then Buchenwald, and then Bergen-Belsen; reuniting with her mother on 18 January 1945; being liberated by the Russians, then by the British army on 15 April 1945; returning to Paris via the Gare du Nord; retrieving repatriation documents; and her commitment to telling her story to everyone.


Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Interviewee
Sarah Montard
Interviewer
Collette Zumstein
Date
interview:  1989 August 11
Language
French
Extent
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
 
Record last modified: 2020-08-03 11:26:24
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn507964