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Studio portrait of three French-Jewish siblings taken before they went into hiding.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 38210

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    Studio portrait of three French-Jewish siblings taken before they went into hiding.
    Studio portrait of three French-Jewish siblings taken before they went into hiding.

Pictured are Paulette, Dora and Michel Feiler.


    Studio portrait of three French-Jewish siblings taken before they went into hiding.

    Pictured are Paulette, Dora and Michel Feiler.
    Circa 1941
    Paris, [Seine] France
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Denise Bensaid

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Denise Bensaid
    Second Provenance: Paulette Goldstein

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Paulette Goldstein (born Paulette Feiler) and Denise Bensaid (born Dora Feiler) are the daughters of Beirel Feiler (b. 1901) and Roche Leja (nee Gimelstein, b. 1900) respectively fled Russia and Lithuania, because of the increasing threat of pogroms and immigrated to France. Paulette was born in 1933 and Dora was born in 1934; their younger brother Michel was born July 28, 1940. The family lived in the 18th Arrondissement in Paris where Beirel operated an antique store. Their lives changed rapidly after the May 10, 1940 during the German army invasion of France and subsequent surrender to the Germans. In response Beirel became active in the French Resistance. Among his activities was most notably bombing a stock of winter jackets bound for the German army on Rue Martel in May 1941. In 1941, Beirel's involvement in the resistance ultimately led to his capture. After incarceration in Drancy, a transit camp in a northeast Paris suburb, Beirel was shot and killed at Mont Valerien on December 15, 1941. The French police returned his meager effects -- a spoon, a fork, a thin plate, and a cup --- to the family. In a desperate effort to save the lives of her children, Roche Leja Gimelstein Feiler sought the help of a Catholic neighbor, Madame Jacob. She in turn found a home for Paulette and Dora in a smalle village at Seiches sur Le Loir in the Maine et Loire, France with Mr. and Mrs. Branchereau, in conjunction with the aid of the village convent. In March 1942, Roche Leja Feiler was arrested with her son Michel Feiler, age 2. The money she had sent regularly to the Brachereau family for the care of her two daughters ceased to arrive; Paulette and Dora were told that their mother was "no longer here." In 1945 Roche Leja Feiler never returned to Paris. She was arrested March 3, 1942, deported in a cattle car convoy #53 from Paris direction Majdanek death camp and killed immediately upon her arrival at the camp. Michel Feiler who was in his mother's arms in the bus at the time of their arrest was saved at the last minute when Roche Leja Feiler opened the window and threw Michel age into the arms of her non-Jewish sister-in-law Henriette, begging her to take Michel. After Roche Leja's death, Paulette and Dora were baptized and confirmed Catholics in the church at Seiches sur le Loir (1943).

    When France was liberated by the American troops in May 1945, Albert Abramovitch (Roche Leja's brother) came to rescue his two nieces Paulette and Dora and bring them back to Paris. Michel, who survived the war in a Jewish orphanage from 1943-1945 in Aix-les-Bains, also returned to Paris to live with his uncle Albert Abramovtich. Michel lived in several Jewish orphanages until his uncle's death in 1954.

    In November 1949, Paulette and Denise immigrated to the USA where they were received by their maternal uncle, Max Himleson. Michel subsequently lived with another maternal uncle, Jacques Gimelstein, in Rouen. Paulette Feiler married Jesse Goldstein in 1954. Denise married Robert Meyrueis (a French Protestant), but after the birth of her son Pierre David Meyrueis, she decided to return to Judaism. She divorced her first husband and later married an Algerian Jew, Jacques Bensaid.

    Beiral Feiler received the metion "Mort Pour La France," and is honored at the Memorial to the Reistance at the Mont Valerin in France.
    Record last modified:
    2008-10-27 00:00:00
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