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Oral history interview with Yvette Christophe

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1281.32 | RG Number: RG-50.146.0032

Françoise (Yvette) Christophe, born in 1933 in France, describes her French family; growing up Jewish in Lille; her father’s family who were originally from northern France; her mother (née Nordman) who grew up in eastern France; the beginning of the war in 1939 and the mobilization of her father (he later became a prisoner of war); staying in Paris with her mother; attending school wearing the yellow star of David; her mother finding a passage in 1942 to the Free Zone in the South of France via her Catholic friends; taking a train in July 1942 in the direction of Angoulême and then switching to another train towards Rochefoucauld; being stopped with their false papers at the second station platform by German soldiers and being interrogated and threatened by the German soldiers; her mother revealing their Jewish identity; being sent with her mother to a small town prison in Rochefoucauld and then to camp Poitiers; the conditions in Poitiers; their transfer in cattle wagons to Drancy; the numerous foreign Jews at Drancy and the few French Jews; the hell of Drancy; seeing herds of children without mothers when she arrived and realizing that she was a privileged child; how she and her mother were considered hostages by the Geneva Convention because her father was a prisoner of war; being sent after three weeks in Drancy to camp Pithiviers and then to camp Beaune-la-Rolande, which was a little more humane and she could receive a few parcels; straying in Beaune-la-Rolande for 10 months, during which time her mother became the chief nurse; being sent back to Drancy in a special block for hostages for a year; being sent with her mother to Germany by way of Gare de l’Est in a third-class car and arriving in Bergen-Belsen; the horror of Bergen-Belsen; how the work was hard and people died of starvation; being guarded by the SS and Polish Kapos; staying in Bergen-Belsen for a year; her mother taking care of the children in the camp while the other mothers worked in the commandos; hearing news of the Allied invasion; learning of the horrors of the gas chambers and extermination camps when Auschwitz evacuees arrived in Bergen-Belsen; the living conditions, which were increasingly difficult; many prisoners dying of dysentery; being evacuated in open wagons; the journey lasting three weeks and her mother getting separated when she stepped off the train at a stop and was unable to get back onto the same wagon; being liberated and aided by the Russians; her mother having typhus; the difficulty her father had trying to find his wife and child; her mother remaining sick for a long time afterwards; eventually returning to school; and how her values were not the same as her peers.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Christophe, Yvette
Wirtschafter, Yvette
interview:  1997 May 12
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 20:12:30
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