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Oral history interview with Claudine Cerf

Oral History | Accession Number: 2018.550.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0999

Claudine Jacqueline Cerf, born on December 13, 1939 in Saint-Nazaire, France, discusses her father, Marcel Jacques Cerf, who fought during WWII (he was imprisoned as a prisoner of war for five years); her mother, Cypora Czalit, who was originally from Vilna (Vilnius, Lithuania) and was protected as the wife of a POW; her parents’ lives before the war; her parents, who were non-practicing Jews; being baptized at the church Saint-Pierre de Montrouge in the 14th arrondissement in Paris (her mother thought this might protect her); being sent to live with a woman named Madame Dubois in La Neuville-en-Hez, France; attending a one-room schoolhouse, where she learned the rudiments of reading and writing; her mother’s visits from time to time; her memories from this period, including one of a German soldier who picked her up to play with her and Claudine caught the look of terror in Madame Dubois’s eyes; looking different from everyone else (she had dark hair and dark eyes); the end of the war; staying with Madame Dubois every summer for three years after the war; her father’s return after liberation; her mother’s activities in the Jewish communist resistance (her mother was reluctant to share these experiences with anyone); her mother’s high rank in the MOI (Main d’oeuvre immigrée) and role with the FFI (Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur) in 1942; the clandestine press her mother ran in Chatenay-Malabry; her mother’s work training other women fighters, transporting weapons, inspecting the maquis fighters in the field, and helping to hide Jewish children; her mother’s activities as one of the leaders of the “Milices patriotiques” and as one of the seven founders of the CCE (Commission Centrale de l’Enfance), a Communist-oriented organization created to take care of the many Jewish orphans who had survived the war; being sent to one of the orphanages, Andrésy, to be with other children; her mother’s work with the “Naïe Presse”, a widely-read Yiddish newspaper; her mother’s regrets at not having continued with her studies; studying literature at the Sorbonne; teaching in middle and high schools; earning a doctorate in comparative literature; creating educational programs on the French TV station, TV5; and her commitment to creating a virtual museum dedicated to the MJR-MOI. [In 1991, Claudine donated documents and artifacts relating to her mother’s role in the resistance to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. See RG-23.005, https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn503676]


Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Interviewee
Madame Claudine Cerf
Interviewer
Peggy Frankston
Date
interview:  2018 October 30
Geography
creation: Paris (France)
Language
French
Extent
1 digital file : WAV.
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Record last modified: 2019-01-22 10:55:43
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn639660