The tragedy of Izieu is illustrated at MahJ

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Happy New Year card drawn by Henri Verständig

“You will remember me” words and drawings of the children of Izieu“, 1943-1944, is a fascinating illustration of how innocent Jewish children and loving surrogate parents died or survived (85%) during the war in France. At MahJ, Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme, 150 photographs, drawings and documents illustrate the adventure led by Sabin and Miron Zlatin, a Polish Russian Jewish couple who emigrated to France in the 1920’s. Out of 105 children, 44  and 7 adults (including Miron Zlatin) were taken away and killed by Klaus Barbie’s men. The documents shown here were collected by Sabin Zlatin who was in Montpellier when the operation took place. Her archives are at Bibliothèque Nationale de France and a House in Izieu is, since 1994, the Memorial of Jewish children in France.

Serge Pludermacher, Group portrait, Izieu 1943-1944 © Coll. Pludermacher family

Most children had come from the East, Romania, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Poland and Algeria… and landed in Palavas-les- Flots in the free zone,  where OSE, (Oeuvre de secours aux enfants), the association devoted to saving Jewish children, took care of them. But when even the South of France was occupied by the Germans in September 1942, the children were sent to Izieu sixty miles east of Lyon near Chambéry with the help of the prefects. Some of them will leave for Switzerland through the mountains. The others will lead a fairly organized life with schooling and games. Sabine who was an artists herself, insisted on teaching them drawing, theater and singing.

The Villa Anne Marie in Izieu was very rudimentary with only one fountain in the garden for water, it is now a memorial

Klaus Barbie’s trial in Lyon in May 1987, where Sabine Zlatin testified, was a major moment for the recognition of the children of Izieu since it was proved that he had personally ordered the “rafle”. They were first imprisoned in Lyon and then at the Drancy camp in Paris before being sent to Auschwitz. A number of photographs show the children laughing during the summer and a montage of drawings tells the story of Ivan Tsarawitch and other tales. These were used for a film.

Claire Decomps from MahJ is one of the three curators of the show.

This short exhibition on the lower floor of MahJ is also a good excuse to visit the museum devoted to Judaism with many treasures.

Until July 23 at MahJ, 71 rue du Temple.

Drawing by Max Tetelbaum, 1944 © Bibliothèque nationale de France, collection Sabine Zlatin

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