Friday, April 27, 2007

Snatched from the Holocaust

The BBC has this touching story about a six year old girl whose life was saved from the Holocaust by a neighbor. The story is Snatched from the Holocaust and it was written by Barbara Govan.

The story begins, "Aged just six, Suzanne Rappoport saw both her parents arrested and taken away from her to be sent to Nazi concentration camps. She was rescued by a neighbour and is one of many Jewish children who were hidden from the Nazis and survived the war."

Suzanne and her parents lived in Paris in 1942. One day, the police came for them. She spoke of the experience, "They broke down the bedroom door and took us next door to the living room. I was told to shut up crying because I was giving one of the two men a headache - French policemen dressed all in black. My parents were told to pack a small case with provisions - my father turned to me and said very quickly 'Remember I love you'. At that moment our neighbour and good friend Madame Yvonne Collomb came into the apartment and said: 'What's my child doing here?' She took me by the hand and led me to her apartment where she hid me under the dining table."

Suzanne was sent into a network that was hiding Jewish children in the French countryside. The following years were not pleasant for her and she even suffered some abuse. She forgot her name until Yvonne Collomb (the kind neighbor who saved her in the first place) showed up after the war to reunite her with her extended family.

Both of Suzanne's parent died in the camps. Her mother was gassed upon arrival at Auschwitz and she almost certainly would have died there too had her neighbor not intervened. Madame Collomb was named Righteous Among Nations by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, the highest award given to those who helped save the lives of Jews during the war.

This is not an isolated incident. Others worked to save children during the Holocaust. More recently, there are accounts of people who risked all to save children in Cambodia and Rwanda. Still, I found this an inspiring story and I am grateful for the Madame Collomb's of the world and the children they saved who can later tell the stories.

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