Tag Archives: 69th dday anniversary

What happened to Jewish children in occupied Europe?

“After this war there will be neither victors nor vanquished, only the survivors and the destroyed.”

– Joseph Goebbels during a speech given at the sports stadium in Berlin, 18th Feb 1943

In Mémorial de Caen I came across an exhibit about Jacob Kirzner, a Caen stallholder, who was taken as a hostage following the sabotage of a railway line at Airan. He was then deported to the Compiegne internment camp on the night of 1 to 2 May 1942. He was among the 45,000 strong convoy that left for Auschwitz-Birkenau on 6 July.

His wife, Krejla Kirzner was left in Caen at the time with their 7 children. The two elder daughters, Eliane and Sarah, were later arrested and also deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau on 3 August 1942.

On 9 October 1942, the mother of the family along with her 5 younger children, including 4-year-old twins Lydie and Annie, were also arrested and later deported to Auschwitz on 3 November 1942.

4-year-old twins Lydie and Annie Kirzner
A Waffen SS officer’s jacket and cap, 1940-45

Out of the 4,918 children deported from Belgium to Auschwitz, only 53 would come back. Out of the 15,000 children taken via the Theresienstadt camp (Terezin), which the Nazis had turned into a “Model Ghetto”, only a hundred of so would survive.

Out of the 11,400 children deported from France, only 200 teenagers, would come home. Between 5,100,000 and 5,800,000 Jews died in Europe during the Holocaust and among these, some 1,250,000 children were assassinated. Incredibly, this means that 9 out of 10 children died.

By the time of the liberation, only 100 to 120,000 of these children were still alive in all of Europe – or between 6 and 11% – and they were residing mainly in Western Europe. In certain regions of Central and Eastern Europe, not a single Jewish child still lived.

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Berthe Auroy’s diary in Mémorial de Caen

While walking around the fascinating exhibits in Mémorial de Caen I couldn’t help but be inspired by individuals such as Berthe Auroy who did not succumb to Nazi propaganda during the German occupation in France. In her diary she explains how she disliked the obligation for Jewish citizens to wear a yellow star. This retired primary school teacher kept a diary from 1940 until the end of the war for her American friend, Lois. She wrote in exercise books, noting down her impressions and daily observations. She even stuck in leaflets and notices printed in newspapers! She wrote things about the fate of the Jews and the gestures of support extended to them by some of the Parisian population.

A extract from Berthe Auroy’s diary during the Second World War in France
A Jewish woman is examined
SS soldiers of a propaganda unit filming the streets of Litzmannstadt ghetto Poland December 1939 – August 1944

This was even more remarkable in the East where the ghettos were constructed as part of the final solution. In total, the Nazis opened 356 ghettos in Poland, the Baltic States, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Hungary between 1939 and 1945. They were enclosed sites under surveillance. The smallest ghetto housed 3,000 Jews, while the largest were based in Lodz (160,000 Jews) and Warsaw (400,000 Jews). They were a transit zone. The first deportations began in July 1942 to the death camps, announced as “population transfers Eastwards”. The ghettos were “liquidated” in May 1943 and all their inhabitants were deported and exterminated.

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#DDay70: Arromanches

Arromanches had lots going on this year for the 70th D-Day Anniversary.

Crowds gathered around Gold Beach on June 7th to watch French and British aircraft perform an air show to commemorate the 70th D-Day Anniversary.

Several Second World War RAF planes and a French Airforce display team flew over the D-Day landing site.

Last year, I was told that Arromanches was a primary target for the Allies. The beach was needed to set up a temporary port for supplies and weapons. Operation Neptune was the original invasion of the Normandy coastline, but the invasion would be unsuccessful if allied troops couldn’t withstand the German counter-attacks.

Operation Mulberry involved the building of two harbours in Arromanches. Both these harbours were built with components made from England. A total of 40,000 people worked on these components in preparation for D-Day.

Arromanches also had a history before the Second World War. The strategic positioning of the beach has made it a vital location in defending France from sea-borne attacks for hundreds of years.

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Watch the preparations for the D-Day Academy Veterans Lunch in Normandy

Follow me for information and reports about the 70th D-Day commemorations on Twitter at @AnnieCDarling.

With thanks to the D-Day Academy, and the Utah Beach Band.