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Group portrait of the nuns of the Couvent Du Tres Saint Sauveur who were responsible for hiding fifteen Jewish children.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 66711

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    Group portrait of the nuns of the Couvent Du Tres Saint Sauveur who were responsible for hiding fifteen Jewish children.
    Group portrait of the nuns of the Couvent Du Tres Saint Sauveur who were responsible for hiding fifteen Jewish children.

The mother superior, Sister Marie Amelie, is in the center.

    Overview

    Caption
    Group portrait of the nuns of the Couvent Du Tres Saint Sauveur who were responsible for hiding fifteen Jewish children.

    The mother superior, Sister Marie Amelie, is in the center.
    Date
    Circa 1943
    Locale
    Anderlecht, [Brabant] Belgium
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Miriam Frydland Keyes

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Miriam Frydland Keyes

    Keywords & Subjects

    Photo Designation
    RESCUERS & RESCUED -- Belgium

    Administrative Notes

    Biography
    Myriam Keyes (born Myriam Frydland) is the youngest daughter of Israel Mayer Frydland and Chaja Perla Bornkind Frydland. Her two oldest sisters Tauba (b. 1/27/26) and Catharina (b. 9/30/28) were born in Poland and immigrated to Belgium with their parents and grandmother in either 1929 or 1930. Another sister, Rachelle (now Bashe), was born on June 22, 1935 in Etterbeeck, Belgium where their parents manufactured handbags in their apartment. After Germany invaded Belgium on May 10, 1940 the family attempted to flee to Switzerland. After being turned back at the border into France, they decided to return to Belgium. However, Myriam's grandmother, Chana Bornkind, whose temporary visa had expired that month was prohibited from returning to Belgium. Instead she was sent to an internment camp in France. Soon after their return, Chaja gave birth to a fourth daughter, Myriam, on December 15, 1940. For the next year and a half the Frydlands remained in their apartment, though they were subjected to various restrictions including food rationing, wearing Jewish stars, curfews, and expulsion from school. In July 1942 Tauba and Catharina received a summons to report for forced labor for the Germans. They were promised that they could return home on weekends. Tauba reported to the police station, but as Catharina was only fourteen years old, the family decided that she should remain at home. The following week German police arrested Catharina for disobeying orders. Both girls were taken to the Malines transit camp, and in August 1942 they were sent on the first transport from Belgium to Auschwitz, where they were murdered upon arrival. Israel and Chaja then decided to find hiding places for their younger daughters and to hide separately themselves. Through the intervention of the CDJ (Comite de Defense des Juifs), Rachelle and Myriam were brought to the convent Du Tres Saint Sauveur in Anderlecht. Though Myriam, who was only twenty months old, was initially very scared both girls soon settled into their new surroundings and routine. They were given new identities as Raymonde and Marie Frere. Eventually, fifteen girls between the ages of 20 months to 12 years were hidden in the convent. The nuns also sheltered a nineteen-year-old Jewish woman named Gutki Stolnicki who cared for the children like a mother. Rachelle and Myriam lived fairly contentedly in the convent for nine months. Rachelle performed small tasks such as peeling potatoes, shelling peas and making beds for the younger children. The girls lived isolated from the events around them, but on the morning of May 20, 1943 a German Gestapo officer entered the convent to search for Jewish children. He was accompanied by an interpreter and the notorious Jewish collaborator, known as "Le Gros Jacques." They made the children line up while they examined their ration cards. Three children who had returned to school after having been baptized were missing. The Gestapo threatened that unless the three appeared the following day, they would arrest one nun for each missing child. After they left the Mother Superior, Marie Amelie (Leloup Eugenie), contacted the CDJ and Cardinal Van Roey for help. The Cardinal in turn contacted the Queen Mother Elisabeth who tried unsuccessfully to appeal to the Germans. However, members of the Jewish underground, who had heard of the raid, planned an escape in consultation with the Mother Superior. The nuns prepared small bundles of food and clothing for each child, and Marie Aurelie left the children's food ration cards in clear view. In the middle of the night, five armed youth forced their way into the convent. Paul Halter, Tobie Cymberknopf, Bernard Fenerberg and Jankiel Parancevitch were joined by two non-Jewish members of the Belgium resistance, Floris Desmedt and Andree Ermel, in raiding the cloister and staging a mock kidnapping. They locked the nuns in a room, cut phone lines, and ordered the children to get dressed. At first the children feared that the Gestapo had returned until they heard the intruders speaking Yiddish. After the children had safely reached a secure destination, the nuns called for help and notified the police. When the Gestapo came to investigate, the nuns somehow successfully convinced them that they had no part in kidnappings and as a result, suffered no retaliation. From the safe house, the underground took the children to different locations. Andree Ermel carried Myriam during the escape and subsequently brought her to her own mother, Celine Ermel. Rachelle hid separately. Shortly after the war Rachelle reunited with her mother. Her father, Israel Mayer Frydland, had been picked up in a raid when he ventured out of his hiding place and was sent to a concentration camp. He died in April 1945 during a death march from Flossenbuerg, shortly before the end of the war. Myriam and Rachelle's grandmother returned from a French internment camp but died from tuberculosis on March 1, 1948 at the age of 67. . Myriam remained with the Ermels until August 1951 when she, Rachelle, and their mother immigrated to the United States on board the SS Washington. In 2001 Yad Vashem honored Sister Marie Amelie, Andree Ermel and her parents Marcel and Celine Ermel as Righteous Among the Nations. Rachelle has nominated Mr. and Mrs. Soupart to be recognized as Righteous Among the Nations as well.

    [A full account of her rescue from the convent is described in the testimony of Sister Marie-Aurelie, July 13, 1945; USHMM archives, RG-20.019; Acc. 1994.A.0184]
    Record last modified:
    2005-04-22 00:00:00
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/pa1156350

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