- The Lyszka family papers contain biographical papers and photographs documenting Renée Lyszka's (later Renée Lisse Sachs) childhood in France, where she hid in Saint Pardoux with her aunt Renée Cwajgenbaum during World War II. The collection documents the Cwajgenbaum and Lyszka families in Łódż, Poland, and Paris, France as well. The papers include identification, immigration, and French school papers of Renée; burial certificates of Renée's parents Abraham and Sara Lyszka; and an identification document of Abraham's. The photographs include photographs of Renée as a child in Paris, Brunoy, and Saint Pardoux; her aunt Renée; her parents, Abraham and Sara; and members of the Bogochwal and Cwajgenbaum families.
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the loving family of Renee Lisse Sachs (Toujours Dans Nos Coeurs)
- Collection Creator
- Renee Lisse Sachs
Renee Lyszka was born on March 13, 1940, in Paris, France to Abraham Juda and Sara Cwajgenbaum Lyszka. Her father was a tailor. Her parents were originally from Poland. Her father Abraham, born on November 20, 1896, had lived in France since he was a young child. Her mother Sara arrived in France in the mid to late 1930s. Their marriage had been arranged by Sara’s brother, who asked Abraham if he would marry her so that she could get out of Poland. It was agreed that it would be a marriage of convenience, and that once Sara was safely in France, they could separate. Sara gave birth to a child that died in infancy, and then Renee was born, so the couple stayed together. In May 1940, Nazi Germany invaded France. An armistice was signed in June and Paris and the northern and western regions were placed under German military administration. This included an SS run Jewish Affairs office which enacted policies that restricted Jewish persons, especially foreign born residents. Renee and her father looked Aryan and could still move about in relative freedom, but her mother had to remain secluded. In 1944, when Renee was four, Sara had to go out. She warned Renee not to open the door. Renee heard steps, assumed it was her mother, and when someone knocked, opened the door to a stranger who asked for her mother. Renee told him she did not know. When her mother returned and Renee told her what had happened, her mother said that it was no longer safe to remain at home. Renee was sent to stay with a neighbor. Her mother had been denounced by a neighbor and was arrested at home that evening and sent to nearby Drancy transit camp. Renee’s father told her that her mother was in a hospital. Abraham made uniforms for the French guards, and was able to bribe someone to get Sara released, but they decided that Renee must be hidden elsewhere. Renee and her father obtained false papers as Christians with assumed names. Renee was hidden with her Aunt Renee and her fiancée Uncle Alexandre, who also had false identities, in St. Pardoux. Paris was liberated on August 25, 1944, and the war ended in May 1945. Renee returned home to her parents. In 1951, her mother became ill and died. Renee was sent to live in an orphanage. In 1954, her maternal uncle Michael, who had immigrated to the United States, wrote to Renee and offered to sponsor her immigration. She went to live with him in York, Pennsylvania, where she finished high school. She Americanized her surname to Lisse. Renee earned an undergraduate and graduate degree and enjoyed a long career as an honored foreign language teacher. She married Keith Sachs in 1969 and they had two children. Her father Abraham, 74, died in 1970, in the US. Renee, 75, passed away on March 8, 2015. She was active in the Hidden Children’s Foundation and shared the story of her wartime experiences to diverse groups. She would end her presentations with this thought: "In a terrible world, there are always good people and you can be one of those people.”
1 oversize folder
- System of Arrangement
- The Lyszka family papers are arranged as two series. Both series are arranged alphabetically. Series 1: Biographical material, 1953-1971; Series 2: Photographs, 1935-1974.
Rights & Restrictions
- Conditions on Access
- There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
- Conditions on Use
- Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.
Keywords & Subjects
- Holder of Originals
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The Lyszka family papers were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum by Keith Sachs in 2015.
- Record last modified:
- 2023-02-24 14:25:57
- This page:
Also in Renee Lisse Sachs family collection
The collection consists of a doll, documents, an oral history, and photographs relating to the experiences of Renee Lyszka and her family in prewar, wartime, and postwar Poland, France, and the United States.
Date: approximately 1930-approximately 1960
Baby doll given to Renee Lyszka, age 4, either while she was living in hiding in France in 1944, or just after the war. In May 1940, a couple months after Renee was born in Paris, Nazi Germany invaded France. The armistice signed in June placed Paris under German military administration. Anti-Jewish policies were enacted and deportations of Jews to camps in the east began by 1942. Renee and her father Abraham did not look Jewish and, with false papers as Christians, they were able to move about. Her mother Sara had to remain hidden at home. In 1944, a neighbor denounced Sara to the Gestapo and she was taken to Drancy transit camp. Abraham, a tailor, had made uniforms for the French guards and he was able to pay a bribe and get her released. They then placed Renee in hiding with Sara's sister Renee in St. Pardoux. Paris was liberated in August 1944, and Renee was reunited with her parents.
Renée Lisse Sachs (née Lyszka), born in Paris, France in 1940, discusses her experiences as a young child in hiding during World War II; her early memories of air raids in a neighborhood of mostly Polish Jewish immigrants; her father who was able to pass as a non-Jew; her mother who was denounced to the Gestapo by a neighbor; her sense of guilt for events that led to her mother's deportation to the Drancy internment camp; her mother's release the camp after her father bargained with the French guards for whom he made uniforms; being sent by train alone at age four to the south of France to live with her aunt; her mother's absence of emotion on the train platform; living as Catholic while in hiding; attending church and learning Catholic rituals; her sense of peace and happiness in the French countryside; her return to her parents after the war; her mother's death from a stroke; being sent to a children's home at age 11; immigrating to the United States at age 15 to live with her uncle; and adjusting to life in the US.