Arlette Waldmann

Arlette Waldmann

Born: June 15, 1937

Broncourt, France

Arlette's Russian-Jewish mother and Romanian-Jewish father had studied medicine together in Paris. After finishing medical school, they married and decided to set up practice in Broncourt, a farming village of 300 inhabitants in northern France.

1933-39: Arlette's father was an old-fashioned doctor who made housecalls, by bicycle at first, then on a motorcycle, and finally, in a car. His patients looked forward to seeing him and held him in high esteem, always offering him coffee and schnapps. Even after Arlette was born in 1937 her mother continued attending to patients in the home office that she and Arlette's father had set up. By then, Arlette's maternal grandparents were living with them and they helped take care of her.

1940-44: Arlette was almost 3 when the Germans occupied her village. German soldiers took over the brick house adjoining her family's house. They shared a backyard and sometimes Arlette played with the soldiers. On Sundays, she went to church so the soldiers wouldn't suspect that they were Jewish. Arlette liked being Catholic--she felt safe knowing that Jesus loved little children and took care of them. One day, though, she crossed herself at home in front of her mother. Her mother was upset, but Arlette didn't understand why. It was very confusing.

After the war, the Waldmanns moved to Paris. For 10-year-old Arlette it was hard when her family resumed practicing their faith. It took years for her to accept her identity as a Jew.