1935 - 1938
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Simone Weil Lipman
- Event History
- The Eclaireurs israelites de France (EIF), the French Jewish scouting movement founded by Robert Gamzon in 1923. The EIF was a pluralist movement under the patronage of community leaders who sought to attract native-born and immigrant youth to Judaism and to steer them away from the more radical political movements of the day. At an early stage, however, tensions arose between the EIF's patrons and the movement's leaders, many of whom were increasingly attracted to Zionism. By the late 1930s the EIF was co-sponsoring programs with the Zionist scouting group, Chomerim, and had created an agricultural training school in Saumur near Tours in the Loire region. These programs had several purposes, including vocational training, raising Jewish consciousness and preparing youth for immigration to Palestine. From September 1939, the EIF set up children's homes in southwestern France. After the armistice with Germany in June 1940, the movement re-deployed to the unoccupied zone, while continuing to operate clandestinely in Paris. In addition to the children's homes, which increasingly took in the children of Jews imprisoned in Vichy internment camps, the EIF organized a number of youth communities in rural areas of the south. At the end of 1941, the EIF was forced to join the southern branch of the Union Generale des israelites de France (UGIF), the compulsory French Jewish council, later constituting its Fourth Section, which dealt with issues related to Jewish youth. The deportations of the spring and summer of 1942 led to the creation of the EIF's special underground unit called La Sixieme (The Sixth), which soon developed a rescue network for children and youth. During the winter of 1943 an EIF fighting unit came into being. Called the Compagnie Marc Haguenau, after the leader of La Sixieme who had committed suicide when captured by the Gestapo, it participated in the liberation of southwestern France as part of the Organisation Juive de Combat (Jewish Fighting Organization). During the war over 150 members of the EIF lost their lives, chiefly those involved in La Sixieme. The organization has been credited with rescuing several thousand Jews.
[Source: Encyclopedia of the Holocaust 2:414; Weinberg, David. "Community on Trial," Chicago 1977]
Rights & Restrictions
- Photo Source
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumProvenance: Simone Weil Lipman
Keywords & Subjects
- Simone Weil is the daughter of Abraham and Jeanne (Schwab) Weil. She was born April 22, 1920 in Ringendorf, a small Alsatian village near Strasbourg, where her father made his living in the buying, selling and breeding of sheep. In 1923-24 the family moved to Strasbourg, where Simone and her brother, Roger (b.1921), received a solid Jewish education in addition to their classical studies at the lycee. Simone became a leader in the Jewish scouting movement, Eclaireurs Israelites de France (EIF). After graduating high school in 1938, Simone entered a program in early childhood education. Her studies, however, were cut short by the war. Fearing a German assault on Alsace, the Weil family left Strasbourg in the fall of 1939 and settled in the town of Blamont. They moved further south in the wake of the German invasion, eventually finding refuge on an abandoned farm in Perigueux (unoccupied zone). Simone remained with her family through early 1941, when she was contacted by Andree Salomon, a former EIF leader. Salomon asked her to do relief work in Rivesaltes, one of the French internment camps where foreign-born Jews were being held prisoner. Simone became a resident worker for the Oeuvre de secours aux enfants (OSE), one of several relief agencies operating in the camp. Her work focused on the children. She distributed food, organized activities, and helped arrange for their release and transfer to children's homes and EIF facilities in the south of France. When Rivesaltes was closed at the end of 1942 Simone went to work for the OSE in Limoges. By the spring of 1943 the leadership of the OSE had decided to evacuate its network of homes and place the children in hiding under assumed Christian identities. Because of her Gentile appearance Simone was recruited for this work. Under the name Simone Werlin, she helped to place 350 OSE children with French families, and in orphanages, convents and summer camps. After the liberation of Limoge district in the fall of 1944, Simone was sent to reopen the OSE home in Montintin. Some months later she moved to Paris, where she and a colleague, Jacqueline Levy, opened an OSE home for pre-schoolers called Le petit monde. Simone left France for the United States in 1946. All of her immediate family survived the war in France.
- Record last modified:
- 2004-10-28 00:00:00
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