In Hiding – France

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon was very pro-Jewish. They saved a lot of people by simply keeping an ear open. If somebody- And they did come to look for Jews. They knew. And as soon as they knew that they were coming, they went and took all the Jews and hid them in a forest or wherever it was. They were very good to us. That’s why they got their names in such an important name in Yad Vashem...[ asked if there was a plan in case they had to flee] Yeah, for each one of us, my mother had made little rucksacks. And they were there in the cupboard. And ready, with some bit of food and clothes.

[ Advice on how to live kosher during the war] One of the main rabbinical authorities in France, Rabbi Ernest Weil allowed us to have goat cheese. So we had plenty of this. And a lot of vegetables - when they were available. And fruits. And… that was it! That was it. Fish. Fish.

No we didn’t change our names. We kept Shabbos. We kept whatever kashrut, as much as we could. And people knew we were Jewish. But all these little villages [ in Haute-Loire/ south-central France] were hiding Jews. We weren’t the only ones. We were the only ones in that particular part.

The guide took us to his home & said, "We can't cross tonight because they caught some people crossing the border. So, we'll have to wait for another day.' The next day very early in the morning he took us [Betty + 2 others] to the border, across two barbed-wire fences. The border was in Annemasse, on the border with Switzerland. And he said, 'There's a third one you have to cross.'

We went straight across & we heard some German. It was the French-Swiss border, so we knew that's no good. So we quickly came back & decided to take the left or the other way round. Anyway, we got this, we managed to get over the third barbed wire. We were in Switzerland where we immediately got a welcome from the Swiss border guards. They said, 'You're very, very lucky because you almost ran into-' They saw it all. 'You almost ran into the arms of the Germans.'

Summer wasn't too bad, but the winter was awful because all we had was straw and one blanket each. And I always suffered from the cold. I've never suffered hunger. I only suffered cold. Ruth was always warm. She was hungry but she had terrible boils on her legs from nutrition, you know... I was, I had lice so I just shaved my hair off and there's a photo with my hair shaven, which to me was the second most traumatic thing because my hair was, I liked my hair.