Mireille Dores (later Miriam Herr) was born on January 13, 1934 in Paris to Jewish parents Abba Shimson "Symchel" Dores (b. 1896 in Salakas, Lithuania) and Clara (nee Abramowitz) Dores (b. 1910 in Paris). Clara’s father, Jaakov, died young and she grew up living with her mother, Dora Abramowitz (b. 1885), and brother, Leon. As an adult, she worked as a secretary in various offices in Paris, which were primarily Jewish-owned. Symchel was the only child of Moshe and Zizla Dores. Moshe had had a small grocery store in Salakas. Following a pogrom, the family fled to Paris, where Moshe became a tailor. Symcha, who was thirteen at the time of their move, initially apprenticed in a print shop but was not yet able to speak French, so could not continue. Instead, he began as a cutter in his father’s shop in order to learn the tailoring trade. In time, Symchel had his own business. He married Clara in 1932, and their daughter Mireille was born two years later. By 1937 he had a business partner and had begun to manufacture raincoats.
Germany invaded France in May 1940, and antisemitic measures were quickly implemented. Symchel’s business was confiscated, and the family was forced to live on Clara’s salary for a time. In June 1940, hoping to escape the German occupation, the family left Paris on foot for Nantes to join their uncle Adofl Libovetski, his wife Alice, and three children, who had gone ahead of them. Within two months, the Germans had entered Nantes as well, so they returned to Paris. Restrictions continued to be placed on the Jewish population. They were forbidden access to some public spaces and were bound by curfews. Mireille enrolled in school, but was forced to wear the yellow star. In October 1941, her younger brother Maurice was born.
In 1942, the French police came to their apartment in the middle of the night. After no one answered, the police returned with additional men, and a list of names which included Clara’s mother, Dora. She was deported to Drancy soon after. Clara began to look for hiding places for her children. Through a friend of Symchel, they found a woman in Normandy who worked as a governess and was willing to take the children. Clara took Miriam and Maurice to the station in St. Lazare, where they were met by a courier who took them by train to Normandy. She was able to visit them only after the first month. The children’s foster parents, Mathurin and Anne Marie Boutte did agricultural work. Although the family was poor, they had a cow for milk and their own vegetables, and the children never went hungry.
As a French citizen, Clara had some freedom of movement and continued to work as a secretary for various Jewish organizations, such as OSE, CRIF and UGIF. Among her responsibilities was distributing ration coupons. She had to move frequently to avoid arrest, but she managed to live throughout the war in Paris. Symchel, who did not have French citizenship, was required to register with the Gestapo. He was sent to Drancy, but was allowed to leave when he claimed that his wife was not Jewish. After his release, he was able to visit the children in Normandy for a day. Miriam then learned that Symchel’s mother (her grandmother) had also been deported. Symchel returned to Paris, and tried to find volunteer work, eventually making his way to a camp near Cherbourg where he found other Yiddish-speaking Jews. Several months later, however, he was sent to the Island of Alderney to work in a forced labor camp operated by the Nazi organization, Todt. There, they built concrete military fortification, such as bunkers, air raid shelters, and tunnels. He remained there until he and the other forced laborers learned that they were to be put on a boat going to Boulogne-sur-Mer. They believed that they would next be put on a train to Auschwitz, so Symchel and a friend managed to slip away and hide in a store until the boat left. The next day, they started on foot to Paris, and Symchel arrived to find his wife still living in their apartment. He was able to return to his business making raincoats, which he sold at the market on rue de Temple via a middleman. Clara worked as assistant accountant, and did all the administrative work for the business.
It was not until January 1945 that Symchel and Clara were able to reunite with their children. Both children had been well cared for, and they soon reintegrated into their family. Miriam continued her education, and earned a Fulbright scholarship to Athens, Ohio. After her return to France, she continued her studies in French literature. She then went to Israel, where she taught French in a high school for a year. She then was offered a position as a French professor at Hebrew University and taught there for forty years. There, she also met her husband, Mr. Herr, who was also a professor. They have four children and seven grandchildren. In 2013, Miriam located the descendants of her rescuers, and recognized their parents Mathurin and Anne Marie Boutte in Yad Vashem as Righteous Among The Nations. s