Zalie Waldhorn

Zalie Waldhorn

Born: June 27, 1927

Paris, France

Zalie was the second of three children born to immigrant Jewish parents. Her Polish-born father was a former officer in the Austro-Hungarian army who had met and married her Hungarian-born mother during World War I. Shortly before Zalie was born, her parents settled in Paris. There, Zalie and her brother and sister grew up in a religious household.

1933-39: Zalie's mother said it was better in Paris than in the poor village in which she grew up. Her mother spoke broken French, but Zalie grew up speaking French fluently. At elementary school they learned all about French history. She wasn't afraid of Hitler. Her father said that the terrible things happening to Jews in Germany wouldn't happen to them in France.

1940-44: Zalie was almost 13 when the Germans occupied Paris in 1940. In 1942 her father was deported with other Polish-born Jews. Then her mother was deported. After that, Zalie left Paris with false papers that hid her Jewish identity. She became 16-year-old Zalie Guerin. With her light hair, blue eyes and fluent French, she passed as a non-Jewish French citizen. In the town of Alencon she worked as a secretary, but after a year, she was discovered to be a Jew and arrested. The Germans beat her up; they seemed ashamed she'd fooled them for so long.

Zalie, 17, was deported to Auschwitz in a children's convoy on July 31, 1944. She survived the concentration camps, and returned to live in Paris after the war.