Fernande Jakubovitch (later Bartfeld) is the daughter of Rivka Goldfarb (born February 20, 1903 in Skierniewicz, Poland) and Hersh Mayer Jakubovitch (born June 2, 1899 in Rawa Maziewicz). Hersh was one of six siblings from a very religious family. He had studied in a yeshiva before being conscripted into the Polish army. In 1919, he escaped and moved to Germany, where he lived for five years. In 1924, he moved to France. There, through a matchmaker, he met and married Rivka Goldfarb, who was a distant cousin. One of eight children, she lived and worked in Lodz to help support her parents. She then moved to France in 1928. Her parents were religious and Gerer Hassidim. Two of her sisters had already immigrated to the United States at that time.
In Paris, Rivka learned to make leather pocketbooks, and she and Hersh set up a small workshop in their apartment. The couple settled into the community and had two children, Fernande, and her brother Albert. Soon after the German military entered France, however, there were constant air raids at night, and Rivka decided that it would be best to move the children, then ages eight and nine, out of Paris. She knew a leather supplier in the small village of Issoudun, so they placed the children with a family there. Rivka returned to Paris, where she and Hersh maintained the workshop until the German occupation of Paris. Not wanting to be separated from her children, she returned to Issoudun, and was later joined by her husband. They lived with the Monjoin family, who gave the children much kind attention and a large and beautiful room. After the partition of France, this area was in the free zone.
Sometime later, Hersh, Rivka, and the children moved to Lyon, where Hersh had clients and could earn money to support the family. They acquired false papers, and remained there for almost two years. During that time, they made the acquaintance of a priest, who him them when their situation became difficult. Fernande attended school, where she met a much-admired young priest, Labbe Lanaud, who taught catechism. Not realizing the differences between Catholicism and Judaism, she asked to join his classes, and soon became his best student. He visited their home on occasion and once left a package of bread for them. However as raids and arrests became more common in Lyons, Rivka took the children back to the Monjoin family in Issoudun. They paid the family for the care of the children, but the family was very kind, and did not attempt to convert Fernande and her brother. They remained there, separated from their parents, for the next two years.
Rivka and Hersh decided to leave Lyons as well, but did not know where to go. The priest who had hidden them previously had an uncle who was also a priest in the small village of Pomey, so they moved there. The uncle was the only person in the village who knew they were Jewish. They again obtained false papers, and through these were able to acquire ration cards. Hersh worked with a local farmer, M. Guyot. He received no pay, but a man without a job would be looked upon with suspicion. When they had problems with their ration cards and thought they would have to move again, Hersh confided their situation to the farmer. M. Guyot replied, "My friend, I like you as you are, and I do not want to know your real name." Hersh and Rivka then moved to Aveize, where M. Guyot lived, but Hersh continued to work in Pomey. The couple had become close friends with M. Guyot, and remained in contact with him for many years. Hersh, Rivka, Fernande, and Albert finally reunited after the end of the war and returned to their house in Paris.