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Oral history interviews with Irène Paillassou and Renée Paillassou

Oral History | Accession Number: 2014.542.1 | RG Number: RG-50.812.0001

Irène Paillassou (born in 1910 and 86 years old at the time of the interview) and Renée Paillassou (born in 1912 and 84 years old at the time of the interview), discuss living in Cannes; their family background; their life-long teaching careers; their love for Chabannes and the children of Chabannes whom they educated and those they saved; Renée being sanctioned in 1942 by the Vichy regime and being banned from teaching in the Creuse for “frequenting a milieu of Free Masons and Jews”; Renée’s return to her parents’ home without a job between 1942-1945; Renée’s belief that she was sanctioned because she refused to take her students at night to the railroad overpass to wave flags as Pétain; their steadfast commitment to the French Resistance; the poor radio reception across the Creuse, depriving the population of information; their belief that they were saving Jewish refugee children from mobilization in concentration camps, not deportation to be exterminated; the arrival of Jewish refugee children in Chabannes in 1939-1940; how the majority of the children were German nationals and did not speak or write French; the placement of the older children (numbering approximately 100) in the chateau and their schooling in trades; the placement of the primary-school-age refugee children (numbering 60-65) in the Chabannes primary school in the village; the respective roles of Irène as the school principal and Renée as a primary teacher (she taught the students to speak and to write in French); the superior academic performance of the Jewish refugee children as they learned French in record time; the key role of Dr. Meisele [SP], an OSE doctor placed at the chateau, in saving the Jewish refugee children; Dr. Meisele asking the Paillssous’ father (a retired gendarme) to request Monsieur Barbaud [SP] (a brigade chief in Bénévant responsible for accounting for number of Jewish refugees) to forewarn them of any roundups; their utter surprise that Barbaud said yes; receiving a warning from Barboud of an impending roundup in August 1942; Renée’s role in conveying information to Chevrier with code “Cousins from Nantes arriving tonight”; the two cars that came to arrest the children and staff; Chevrier’s immediate action to scatter and hide the children in the adjacent forest. The sisters read extracts from Chevrier’s diary, recounting the daily happenings at the chateau, the sanctioning of Renée, the fear of informants, etc.; and their great emotion in anticipating the reunion of children of Chabannes and reconnecting with them.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Renée Paillassou
Irène Paillassou
Lisa Gossels
Dean Wetherell
Documentary films.
16 videocasettes (Betacam SP) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Lisa Gossels and Dean Wetherell
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:53:57
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