1944 the Nazis from Lyon sent two vans to the French village of
Izieu. The Mission: to exterminate the children of an orphanage
known as La Maison d'Izieu: The Children's Home Of Izieu.
sleepy village of Izieu lay overlooking the Rhone river between Lyon
and Chambery in central France. Refugees from Herault were the first
arrivals at the Children's home and their Jewish identity was kept
secret by the staff. The children, aged between four and seventeen,
felt safe and secure, supervised by seven adults. Often one of the
young boys entertained his companions by making movies,
paintings on transparent paper and scrolled past a lighted box. The
Children's Home was a perfect idyll and the Jewish children led a
happy life with plenty of time for playing, drawing and painting.
on the morning of April 6, 1944, as they all settled down in the
refectory to drink hot chocolate, three vehicles, two of which were
lorries, pulled up in front of the home. The Gestapo, led by the 'Butcher
of Lyon' Klaus Barbie, entered the home and forcibly removed the
forty four children and their seven supervisors, throwing the crying
and terrified children on to the trucks like sacks of potatoes.
a witness later recalled: 'I was on my way down the stairs when
my sister shouted to me: it's the Germans, save yourself! I jumped
out the window. I hid myself in a bush in the garden. I heard the
cries of the children that were being kidnapped and I heard the
shouts of the Nazis who were carrying them away...'
the raid on their home in Izieu, the children were shipped directly
to the 'collection center' in Drancy, then put on the first
available train towards the deathcamps in the East. Forty-two
children and five adults were gassed in the extermination camp of
Auschwitz. Two of the oldest children and Miron Zlatin, the
superintendent, ended up in Tallin in Estonia and were put to death
by a firing squad.
the forty-four children kidnapped by the Nazis in Izieu, not a
single one survived. Of the supervisors there was one sole survivor,
twenty-seven year old Lea Feldblum. When the children from Izieu
arrived in Auschwitz on April 15, 1944, Léa led the column of
children to the selection point. When she informed the SS that these
children were from a home, she was ruthlessly separated from them
and sent to the prisoners' camp.
survivor of Auschwitz
revealed during Klaus Barbie's trial what happened to the children: 'I
asked myself where were the children who arrived with us? In the
camp there wasn't a single child to be seen. Then those who had been
there for a while informed us of the reality. 'You see that chimney,
the one smoke never stops coming out of .. you smell
that odor of burned flesh ...'
of the children of La Maison d'Izieu was eleven-year-old
Liliane Gerenstein. Lilliane and her brother were sent to their
deaths a few days after she wrote this letter to God:
How good You are, how kind and if one had to count the number of
goodnesses and kindnesses You have done, one would never finish.
God? It is You who command. It is You who are justice, it is You who
reward the good and punish the evil.
God? It is thanks to You that I had a beautiful life before, that I
was spoiled, that I had lovely things that others do not have.
God? After that, I ask You one thing only: Make my parents come
back, my poor parents protect them (even more than You protect me)
so that I can see them again as soon as possible.
Make them come back again. Ah! I had such a good mother and such a
good father! I have such faith in You and I thank You in advance.
The children's father, Chapse, miraculously survived the horrors of
the Holocaust and after world War 2 he emigrated to the United
child of Izieu was eight-year-old Georges Halpern, born Oct.
30, 1935 in Vienna. After the war a letter to his parents was found
- the little boy wrote:
Maman, I send you 10000000000 kisses your son who loves you very
much. There are big mountains and the village is very pretty. There
are a lot of farms and we look for blackberries and raspberries and
white mulberries. I hug you with all my heart. Georgy.
was born on April 13, 1931, in Oran, Algeria, but the family moved
to Marseilles, France, shortly before WW2. His mother was deported
to Auschwitz in Poland on July 31, 1943, and Jacques and his two
younger brothers, Richard, six years old, and Jean-Claude, who
was five, were sent to be sheltered in the Children's home in
in Izieu Jacques wrote a letter to his mother:
Maman, my dear Maman, I know how much you've suffered on my account
and on this happy occasion of Mother's Day I send you from afar my
best wishes from the bottom of my little heart. So far from you,
darling Maman, I've done everything I could to make you happy: when
you've sent packages, I've shared them with the children who have no
parents. Maman, my dear Maman, I leave you with hugs and kisses.
Your son who adores you. Jacques
the Nazi raid Klaus Barbie sent a telex to Gestapo headquarters in
Paris declaring that the children's colony at Izieu had been removed
and arrangements made for the deportation of its residents. The full
text, which contains mistakes about the children's ages and
apparently counted three of the oldest children among the adults
morning, the Jewish children's home, Children's Colony, at Izieu has
been removed. 41 children in all, aged 3 to 13, have been captured.
Beyond that, the arrest of all the Jewish personnel has taken place,
namely 10 individuals, among them 5 women. It was not possible to
secure any money or other valuables. Transportation to Drancy will
take place on 4/7/44. Signed Klaus Barbie."