Oral History

Liny Pajgin Yollick describes fleeing to France from Antwerp

In May 1940, the Germans occupied the Netherlands. In 1942, it took Liny, her mother, and her sister six months to escape to southern France. They pretended to be Protestant, obtained visas to travel through Spain and Portugal, and were on one of the last trains to cross into Spain after the Germans took over southern France. They boarded a Portuguese ship bound for Dutch Guiana (Suriname). Liny was placed in a refugee camp, and then worked in the Dutch embassy in Washington D.C. She eventually settled in Texas.


My uncle got this passeur for us, and...uh...he was going to take us to Nice, in the southern part of France. My mother paid him...him ahead of time. I understand--my mother told me later-- that the whole journey to the southern part of France cost her something like sixty thousand dollars...the equivalent of sixty thousand dollars, which was a fortune in those days. And she made it all after my father passed away in that shoe store. And that is a long story how she made it, and I am not going to go into that right now. Um...but when we...um...left with the passeur to go back to go to the southern part of France, we went through Brussels. In the middle of the street, he left us. He had received his money and he left us. And we knew nobody in Brussels. My mother approached somebody on the street who wore a star, a Jewish star, and just took her life in her hands and told him the story. He took us to his house and we slept on the floor of his living room for about, I would say, four or five days. And this man was absolutely a godsend. He found us another person to take us to the southern part of France. The whole story was just plain luck. It was not brainpower--it was luck.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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