Oral History

Simone Weil Lipman describes helping the Children's Aid Society (OSE) move children to safety in southern France

When Simone was three her family moved to Strasbourg, where her father bred sheep. Simone and her brother were active in Jewish scouting. In 1940, she worked as a teacher in Paris. The Germans invaded western Europe in May 1940. Simone and her family fled German-occupied France for the unoccupied southern zone. There Simone worked at an internment camp for foreign-born Jews. She tried to provide forged documents in an attempt to save lives. Later, Simone assumed a false name and joined the Children's Aid Society (OSE) to rescue Jewish children.


We're still in the early part of 1942 and the deportations haven't started. But there were rumors of shipping the people off to uh labor camps or resettlement camps. Far from us was any kind of idea of what...where they were really sent. But OSE [Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants; the Children's Aid Society] had had the foresight, through some people like Andree Salomon and a Doctor Joseph Weill, to uh think of saving the children and getting them out. And at numerous occasion, I had opportunity to convoy children out or to take children out. I remember one particular group that sticks in my mind of all of it. We had a small group, but sizeable enough, of Down's syndrome children in the camp. Very young, small, Down's...And there was a place for them in Bergerac, in the Dordogne, and here we are in Rivesaltes, and the other thing...I mean, had to cross all the south of France. And I took these children by train to uh Bergerac. There must have been five, six of them. These children had actually learned to walk in the camp, had never known how to take steps. And we get to the station, and they didn't know how to go down or up stairs, uh because they had just never experienced this. In addition to which, they were...had Down's syndrome. But that's the one convoy I remember, of all of them. I'm not sure exactly why, but I remember this one.


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