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Memoir: An Odyssey Revisited

Au fil du souvenir
























Volume 15d

Rachel Philipson-Levy

An Odyssey Revisited

published by the
Concordia University Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies
Copyright © Rachel Phillipson-Levy, 2001


Key Words

Berlin; Paris; Les Modes Modernes (family owned hat factory); Cours Louise de Bettigny (private school); Lycée Racine (private school); Branch plant in Galway, Ireland; Le Touquet-Paris-Plage (temporary stay, near Belgian-German border); Cabourg (town in Normandy); Néris-les-Bains; Sète on the Mediterranean coast; Cauterets in the Pyrénés; Gurs (concentration camp); Maubourget in the Pyrénés; Nice; Juan-les-Pins in the Midi; St. Etienne-de-St-Georgs (Isère); Polémieux-sur-Saône, north of Lyon.



Parents leave Berlin in the early 1930s to settle in Paris where several family members are established. After initial difficulties, her father becomes a partner in her uncleís successful business. The partners are invited to open a branch in Galway and her father is put in charge of the operation; the new factory opens in 1938.  As the situation in Germany deteriorates, several relatives emigrate, but those in Paris feel safe.  As the war starts, Paris is thought to be a bombing target and the family disperses to Cabourg and Néris-les-bains.  As France is divided, they move to the South, first to Sète on the Mediterranean coast and then to Cauterets in the Pyrénés.  In August 1942, rumour reaches the family that all Jews who entered France after 1933 will be arrested.  Some family members decide to hide in the mountains and they survive; the others are arrested and sent to Gurs from where none return. In 1943 the family relocates to Maubourguet because the cost of living is lower. When the Italian occupying troops are replaced by Germans, life becomes more dangerous, resulting in another move to Nice. Returns to Maubourguet, describes food rationing and further arrests. Financial resources are exhausted, life becomes more hazardous. The author acquires new papers and a new identity. In April 1944, moves to a primitive farm near the village of St. Etienne-de-St-Georgs. Liberation comes in the summer of 1944 in the form of Canadian and Senegalese soldiers. Another move follows to Polémieux-sur-Saône. Contact with father in Galway is reestablished. After several complications, author reunites with her father.

This memoir includes much detail on relatives and friends and their fate during these eventful years.

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