Studio portrait of Fanny Fogel.
Photograph | Photograph Number: 82044
Circa 1938 - 1940
- Antwerp, Belgium
- Variant Locale
- Photo Designation
LIFE BEFORE THE HOLOCAUST -- Belgium
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Ronald Hollander
Studio portrait of Fanny Fogel.
- Fanny Hollander (born Fogel, the mother of the donor) was the daughter of Jacob Fogel (Sighet, Romania) and Pepe Geller (Budapest, Romania). She was born on June 6, 1933 in Antwerp, Belgium and lived near her father's brother Eliezer, his wife Sara and their sons David (born 1930) and Zvi (born 1933). Shortly before her seventh birthday, Germany invaded Belgium on May 10, 1940. After many discussions and meetings, her parents and many of the Jews in Antwerp decided to leave for France. Late one night with minimal luggage, Fanny, her parents, uncle, aunt and cousins took a train to Paris. Upon arrival, the French police told them they would be housed in temporary camps. The Fogel family was sent to the Brens internment camp in Southern France. After approximately six months at Brens, they were told to board a train that took them to the Rivesaltes internment camp. It was much dirtier than Brens; lice was rampant and food was scarce. After a few months at Rivesaltes, Fanny's father planned to escape with another prisoner; he promised to help his daughter once he was free. A month or two later, one of the French guards fell in love with Fanny's mother. (Her parents had divorced before the war and her mother was young and beautiful.) The guard said he would help them escape. Her mother told him he would also need to help her brother in-law, his wife and their children. Late one night, the entire family escaped with this gendarme. He not only helped them leave the camp but also accompanied them to Marseilles and found them temporary quarters in a huge basement. He then immediately returned to Rivesaltes.
After several days in Marseilles, Fanny's aunt, uncle and cousins went further south where they hid in a small village for the rest of the war. Fanny's mother felt that Paris would be safer. Fanny thought the reason they were not caught is that her mother had very dark hair with green eyes and did not look Jewish. People thought she was Spanish. Upon getting to Paris, they found a small room to live in. Fanny did not go to school. She was 8 years old. She would sneak onto the subway and ride around Paris. She was often hungry and would steal food and sneak into movie houses. Her mother told her not to talk to anybody, so she had no friends. She really did not know what her mother was doing at the time.
After 6 or 7 months in Paris, Fanny's father found them. He explained that after he escaped, he tried to help them but could not. Eventually he heard they had escaped with his brother and his family, and he went to find her. He stayed for 2 or 3 days and then left with Fanny, not telling his ex-wife that he was taking her or where they were going. Fanny's father took her to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Poirot, an older Christian couple who lived on Rue de la Madeleine in Lille. They did not know she was Jewish. They had a granddaughter, Jeanine a few years older. Fanny attended school, helped with daily shopping, had a lot of freedom and made many friends. At first her father visited every few weeks, but then his visits suddenly stopped. Fanny later found out he had been arrested and sent to Buchenwald and Auschwitz. Not long after, Fanny overheard her foster parents discussing what to do with her as now no one was paying for her upkeep. She then heard Mr. Poirot say they would keep her as they liked her and she liked them. She was just glad to hear that she would be able to stay there.
About a month later, her mother showed up. Apparently, she began looking for her since she left with her father and only through word of mouth managed to eventually find her. She told them that her father had been sent to a concentration camp in Germany. She made arrangements to regularly visit Fanny and pay her foster parents for her upkeep. Fanny remained with the Poirots for the next three years. Fanny's 11th birthday, June 6, 1944, coincided with D-Day. That day when she left to go shopping, she saw people celebrating in the streets, and she learned that the Americans had landed in Normandy. A couple of days later, she met American soldiers in the streets. They passed out candy and soap, and Fanny brought them home to the Poirots who let them sleep on their floor. Some months later, a man appeared at the Poirot's home. He was skinny, completely bald and wearing a concentration camp uniform. It took Fanny a few minutes to recognize her father. He stayed with them for about a week. Mr. Poirot gave him some clothing. Her mother came with a suitcase of clothes for him. The three of them were together for a couple of days.
Fanny stayed with her foster parents for an additional six months even though the war had ended. Her mother and father visited at different times before she moved to Brussels to live with her mother later in 1945. She moved to Israel in 1948 at 15 years of age. She served in the Israeli army between the ages of 18 through 21 and then moved to the United States in 1954. She got married to Stuart Hollander in 1956 and became a US Citizen in 1959. She had three sons and six grandchildren.
- Photo Source
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumProvenance: Ronald Hollander
Record last modified: 2015-05-20 00:00:00
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