Holocaust survivors can have a difficult time talking about what they experienced during World War II. However, this can leave their descendants wondering what happened to their relatives and how it impacted them. This is what happened to Jessica Shaw. She had been told that her father Henri had escaped France as a child by climbing over the Pyrenees Mountains with his mother and younger sister into Spain, where he reunited with his father. The family journeyed through Spain, Portugal, and Cuba before they ended up in the United States. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Shaw made the decision to recreate her father’s journey, which she wrote about in The New York Times. Along the way, Jessica discovered that most of what she knew of her father’s escape from France was wrong.
This program explores Shaw’s journey with Jessica in conversation with her sister, Dr. Laura Shaw Frank, the American Jewish Committee’s Director of Contemporary Jewish Life.
Watch the program below.
Recording transcript for Step by Step: Recreating a Family's Lost Holocaust History
This program’s original recording transcript is below. This transcription was created automatically during a live program so may contain inaccurate transcriptions of some words.
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Hi everyone, my name is Sydney Yaeger and i'm the public programs coordinator at the Museum of Jewish heritage, a living memorial to the Holocaust.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Now, in its 24th year the museum is committed to the crucial mission of educating our diverse community about Jewish life and heritage, before, during and after the Holocaust.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): As part of that mission our programs are meant to illuminate the stories of survivors broader histories of hate and anti semitism through time and stories of resistance against injustice.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Today we are honored to be joined by JESSICA Shaw and Dr Laura Shaw frank, whose father Henrique survived the Holocaust by escaping to Spain from France as a child, with his mother and younger sister.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): During the coven 19 lockdown JESSICA made the decision to recreate her father's journey and along the way, discovered most of what she knew about her father's and Steve was wrong.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): JESSICA Shaw, is a journalist and the host of the pop culture spotlight a daily audio show about entertainment on sirius xm.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Dr Laura Shaw frank, is the director of the American Jewish committee is William Patrick contemporary Jewish life department.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Of passionate proponent of joyful and resilient Judaism or lectures and writes widely on issues of importance to American jewelry Laura holds a PhD in Jewish history from the University of Maryland college park and undergraduate and law degrees from Columbia University.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): I would also like to thank SNCF America Inc for sponsoring today's Program.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): During the program if you have questions for our speakers, please put them in the zoom Q amp a box and we'll get to as many as we can, at the end of the hour, thank you all for joining us today and i'm now going to hand things over to Jessica and Laura.
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Jessica Shaw: Thank you so much Sydney and thank you to all of you for tuning in recognize, some of you, and of course the extraordinary museum of Jewish heritage for having us.
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Jessica Shaw: I want to start just by asking everyone here to close their eyes for a second you're on zoom, no one can see you.
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Jessica Shaw: Maybe with your eyes closed think about someone who is who's not here anymore, maybe who you can't talk to a parent or grandparents an aunt or uncle friend and think about something that you wish you would ask them, but never did.
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Jessica Shaw: So you can open your eyes, if you want, or you can keep close.
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Jessica Shaw: I have done that a lot I have thought, a lot about that Laura and my father died in 2003 and even though I spent three decades with him nearly two of those under the same roof.
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Jessica Shaw: I didn't ask him so many things I did absorb things sometimes being a bit eavesdropper and sometimes it almost felt like by osmosis.
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Jessica Shaw: Every time my dad side of the family got together, we could look around the room and see our relatives with.
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Jessica Shaw: Numbers brutally finished into their forearms I remember going to a celebration, and my mother later telling me that the joyous kind woman, I had been talking to had been a twin that Mengele experimented on and I didn't know, and I would never have known.
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Jessica Shaw: We don't often have time to sit still and close our eyes, at least I don't I am a new yorker through and through i'm running one place to another I host a radio show I write I have.
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Jessica Shaw: Two kids and incredibly time consuming dog, but there was something about the pandemic that slowed things down for me and it gave me time to pause and it gave me time to close my eyes and after 20 years I really thought about all those things I wished i'd asked my father.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): I still remember when I realized how much I didn't know about my father's story, it was 2008.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And I had made a decision to go back to university, I was a working mother of four and I think I was a little bit crazy.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): But I decided to go back to university to earn a PhD in Jewish history.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): My first career was as a corporate litigator and my father was very happy about that career he liked the financial stability it offered he liked the Prestige know, like any good immigrant.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): But although my father worked in private industry for many years, and he had a really storied career as a scientist what he loved best was teaching.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): He taught us as children and then he became a professor right around when I started college he loved his work so much he was a true educator he didn't only teach but he mentored his students.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): and his students were often immigrants, just as he had been he took them under his wing and he helped them in every way that he could.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And after my father died I realized that I to wants to be an educator I wanted to carry on his legacy, I wanted to mentor students, and so I left the law.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And I began teaching Jewish history and Jewish studies at a Jewish day school near where we lived and I fell in love.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Truly, it was like falling in love I loved the school I loved my students and maybe most of all, I loved Jewish history.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): So I really couldn't get enough of it, so when I decided to go to graduate school, it was a decision that really came from my soul.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): But it was also a decision that affected my soul, because I sat in my graduate classes reading book after book about our people's past, and I saw how historians meticulously recreated that path from countless disparate sources memoirs to menus.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): I began to realize what I did not know about my own family story, and as I read the stories of the Jewish people I wanted to know how my family fit into that story.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And in many ways in those early years of my doctoral coursework I kind of felt like my father had died again for me, and I would think to myself, over and over again why why didn't you ask him more why didn't you ask your grandparents more.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Okay, so I am an oldest daughter, and a Jewish family so i'm really good at feeling guilty.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): But at the same time, I also knew that there was probably a pretty limited amount that I could have done to uncover our father's story so as you're going to hear in a moment.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): From my sister our our father was a very little boy when he and his family fled Europe one step ahead of the Nazi regime.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): and his memories were probably fleeting, at best, and my grandparents were typical survivors they lost too much, and it was way too hard to talk about it my middle name is Rachel i'm named for my grandfather's little sister russula who was murdered in a film now.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): My grandfather never once talked about ruffle, at least not to me, but he also never called me Laura never to meet him I was wrestler.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): wrestler or Laura Rachel never ever just Laura I was the tikun I was the bomb and his broken heart.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): So our grandparents didn't talk about what they had gone through and what they lost you just loved us.
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Jessica Shaw: So this is what I knew this is what we knew Laura and I knew, or what we thought we do our father was born in October 1934 in Paris, we have his birth certificate you Sydney can put that up.
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Jessica Shaw: that's what happens with the whole online Okay, here we go.
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Jessica Shaw: Okay.
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Jessica Shaw: He lives in an apartment in Paris, with my seal and my grandparents, who we called boba stadium say to Joe they were immigrants.
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Jessica Shaw: from Poland and at some point in 1940 after the Nazis occupied Paris when our dad was five and.
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Jessica Shaw: Three they fled Paris with my grandmother to escape over the Pyrenees mountains into Spain.
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Jessica Shaw: My grandfather was already gone at that point he had been ordered to report to a work camp were so we had been told.
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Jessica Shaw: file that away my grandmother, and the two children, my father and my aunt walked out of their apartment in Paris, they left the front door unlocked and the food was still on the stove.
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Jessica Shaw: They couldn't risk anyone becoming too nosy because the Nazis had just invaded and there was a lot of uncertainty about the fate of the Jews in the country.
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Jessica Shaw: Obviously, if anyone knew what was going on a few countries East they had a reason to be terrified.
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Jessica Shaw: My grandfather scented guide to leave my grandmother and their children over the mountain range and all we ever heard about that journey was that their phone lauren's along the way thorny leads or any plans.
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Jessica Shaw: And that they cut up my father's young legs he wore short pants has was the style then for little boys and my grandmother would always say that Henry never ever complained.
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Jessica Shaw: We don't know exactly how and when the family reunited in Spain, but they made their way across thing into Portugal and they boarded a ship to Havana Cuba.
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Jessica Shaw: As the story when our grandfather had both legal visas to Cuba and illegal ones to America, but he did not want to risk the latter.
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Jessica Shaw: The Germans torpedo the ship that my dad was on the one that was headed to Cuba and they had to evacuate to the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands until they could obtain another.
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Jessica Shaw: safe passage we don't know exactly the date when they arrived in Havana, but they spent the rest of the war there and they came to America in 1947 march 20, to be exact, we have the shipment.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): city, if you could show the next slide you can see a picture of our very adorable Father in his early years probably we think around 1937 and parents in Paris, with our grandparents, but the CD ends at Joe.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): So I want to give a little bit of historical background, so if we could go to the next slide for a map.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): i'm going to give a little bit of background to put our family story into context.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): As many of you no doubt know well Hitler took control of Germany in 1933 and very quickly began rolling back the rights and ultimately the citizenship of German Jews.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): In 1938 the Germans occupied Austria and the Su date and land claiming they needed lebensraum more room for error and Germans to spread out and live large.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): They brought their oppression of Jews to those new territories as well and, as many of you know don't know why November 9 and 10th 1938.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Violent pogroms were carried out against the Jews in Germany and the new German territories.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Those programs became known as Kristallnacht and they destroyed hundreds of synagogues and Jewish institutions and thousands of Jewish owned businesses, as well as killing and.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): murdering and injuring many, many Jews as well, Jews were beaten attacked in the streets terrible terrible time.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Many historians date the beginning of a Holocaust to Kristallnacht when the Nazi war against the Jews kind of made that turn from legislation and exclusion to violence and destruction.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Despite all this, the Western powers had decided on the strategy of appeasement.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): of Hitler hoping that the territories that Hitler captured would be enough for him and he would settle down and stop being aggressive and everything would be fine.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And of course we know that all was not fine at all Hitler did not stop at September 1 1939 Germany invaded Poland beginning World War Two and very important for our story, as you see, in the arrows on the map on the screen.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): In 1940 Germany advanced North and westward invading the Low Countries and France.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Now France declared war on Germany on September 3 1939 right after Germany invaded Poland, but they were completely unable to stop the axis powers Germany invaded France on may 10 1940 and on June 14 the city of Paris fell to the Nazi regime and Jews were no longer safe in France.
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Jessica Shaw: But I would say to fully understand what made my grandmother, and my father and my aunt walk out of there Paris apartment that day.
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Jessica Shaw: it's important understand what it meant to be a Jew, like my father, like my grandfather in Paris in the 1930s, though our dad was indeed born in Paris in France his name tells a much more complex story his name I don't know if you can put that birth certificate up again is on.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): The next slide with.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): No go to the next gentleman there you go.
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Jessica Shaw: yeah so many consonants his his first name was the ultimate French name on bri.
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Jessica Shaw: But his last name and his parents names were certainly not they were foreign Polish Jews his parents were Socialists deeply Jewish get huskers but not religious at all, and by the time the Nazis invaded France, there were more immigrant Jews in France than French oranges.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): So here I am to give historical context again if you could go to the next slide I want to talk a little bit about French jury for a minute.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): France had a complicated history with respect to Jews in the Middle Ages France actually expelled it's Jews blaming them for the black plague that decimated Europe.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): But in the wake of the French Revolution in 1789 when Jews had again been living in France for 150 200 years again.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): The new friends Republic gave you citizenship and France was the first nation in Europe to do so.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): But less do you think always rosy it wasn't perfectly rosie after the revolution in return for citizenship France expected that it's Jews would assimilate.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): They would give up their distinctive jewishness and become what France deemed to be fully French.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And the infamous Dreyfus affair of 1894 when alpha Dreyfus and assimilated Jewish army officer was falsely convicted of espionage, because he was a Jew he's pictured here that showed that even assimilation was often not enough.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): complicating matters still further was a massive wave that my sister just referred to, of Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe to France in the 19 teens and 20s.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): On the eve of World War Two there were about 320,000 Jews living in France of that number two thirds of them were immigrants from Eastern Europe.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And all those two thirds of French jury fully half of them had come to France in the previous decade, they were fresh off the boat, so to speak, not really a boat because they'd come across Europe.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Some of those immigrants had even gone first Germany, but when the Nazi regime came to power they fled and came to France.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): So these Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe among who are grandparents were among.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): wanted to become integrated into French society they considered France their adoptive country about a third of them got French citizenship, many more of them try to.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Get from citizenship, they contributed to the French culture and society they sent up kids different state schools, they wanted to be French.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): But at the same time, many of the immigrants again our grandparents among them embraced radical politics, like socialism and even Communism our grandparents were socialists.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): They were proud either speakers and proudly ethnically Jewish and those that were religiously observant among these immigrants, they prefer to worship in the company of fellow Eastern European Jews.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And those differences led to some distance between them and the more assimilated Jews who had been living in France for many generations.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And, as I mentioned a lot of these immigrants had not managed to obtain French citizenship before Germany occupied France in 1940 so the fact that these Jews were stateless meant that they were the first Jews of France to be deported East to Auschwitz and other concentration camps.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Eastern European Jews, like our father and his family were really the most vulnerable, Jews and friends in 1940 they were trapped.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): They were new they were foreign many of them were stateless and they had no where to go, many of them started to escape obtaining visas fake real both.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And they found secret paths all over France over the Pyrenees mountains, to get to Spain and Portugal, where they could somehow get passage out of Europe to a safer paden.
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Jessica Shaw: So back to the story laura's a brilliant historian and I definitely called her all the time to explain things I was amazed at how little I knew about France in in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
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Jessica Shaw: But there was in the middle of coven and locked out and you were just starting to venture outside and I was taking I don't know 11 steps, a day on my step counter and I just became consumed with recreating my father steps.
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Jessica Shaw: And like I said I did it really did not know much I mean we had no Intel pennies the thorns on the legs, though.
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Jessica Shaw: The bloodied scratches not much else, so I started trying to put these pieces together for this trek I was going to take, and this New York Times story that.
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Jessica Shaw: I had pitched without really knowing too much of what what the story would meet the uncertainty of the time just wait on me that feeling.
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Jessica Shaw: During coven I took this this trip last summer last August, so that feeling of if I don't do this now what, if I can never do it with who knew how long borders would be reopen the world you'd still be able to fly in travel.
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Jessica Shaw: So it felt important to do it that's summer, not to wait another year, or not to wait any longer.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): I just want to jump in for one second to say that JESSICA invited me to go with her, and I was two seconds ago because of co op ED something I regret enormously now continue.
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Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Yes, we'll go back we'll go back.
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Jessica Shaw: Right exactly my lungs can handle it what we will go back someday.
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Jessica Shaw: So i'm in 1994 the French Government named this one quote unquote official crossing over the parodies from France to Spain.
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Jessica Shaw: They call it the freedom trail the show Mandela liberte and it's about an hour south of to lose and the mountain range there it's great in the middle of France.
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Jessica Shaw: is so high that even in the summer there are snowy peaks and I just assumed that was the trail there's there's one trail That was the path that they took.
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Jessica Shaw: And, as I look back, I can't believe that I thought that but, but I did, and part of that is because the history that gets written down in the history books that history that gets deemed quote unquote official by country.
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Jessica Shaw: is just is just that there are so many stories there's so many pieces of history that stay in the shadows and that we don't know about or don't think to ask about so.
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Jessica Shaw: I had decided, I was going to do that, that climb over the parodies over the shame on dylan liberty, so I got my stairmaster.
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Jessica Shaw: crunch gym here in brooklyn i'm like wearing to masks because that was just when delta remember delta was like eight a.
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Jessica Shaw: variance ago was starting to be a thing, and I just got I really got to get it get in shape i'm going to be doing this very steep climb, and when I felt like I was doing yesterday Okay, a.
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Jessica Shaw: couple of weeks later, I reached out to a girl her name is and Aaron and she's a former British climbing champion she leads tracks across the freedom trail and.
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Jessica Shaw: We had to do, and she told me in no uncertain terms, I was absolutely not in good enough shape to do this.
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Jessica Shaw: And she was right, she was absolutely right, I was nowhere good enough shape to climb those mountains, but ultimately it didn't matter because my father, I found out did not climb those mountains either.
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Jessica Shaw: He soon found out there was no way, he would have had to.
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Jessica Shaw: be contacted contacted an extraordinary professor and scholar named Joseph Calvin who's written several books on the pair of news crossings during the Holocaust and he actually grew up in the parents of the small town right on the border.
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Jessica Shaw: And I got to meet him and he told me stories about how how the neighbors no one really talked about what was going on, because you didn't know which neighbor was hiding Jews, which neighbor was turning them in.
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Jessica Shaw: And he told me that in 1939 there would have been no need for my father my aunt's my grandmother to cross over the freedom trail such a dangerous roots such a route at such a high elevation.
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Jessica Shaw: The freedom trail is only used years later, mostly after 1942 once all of those lower safer routes across the mountains had been found out by the Nazis.
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Jessica Shaw: The more dangerous the time became in the war, the more dangerous dangerous it was for Jews, the higher the routes had to become.
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Jessica Shaw: And as the years passed and the Germans took over the vishy region they brought in Alpine spheres from Austria, they brought in dogs track.
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Jessica Shaw: People who were trying to escape and I spent so much time listening to testimonies from Holocaust museums all over the world and of survivors who did cross at that time in the later years of the war.
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Jessica Shaw: You know if they managed to get across and I read Lisa fit go and extraordinary woman, she was what's called a pastor.
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Jessica Shaw: Who led people over the mountains, I read her biography about guiding guiding refugees over so Professor Calvin.
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Jessica Shaw: told me that he was totally confident that my father would would have would have crossed a far lower route.
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Jessica Shaw: of which there were many early on in the war and I mentioned to him that my grandfather had been in turned into camp in Barca Paris France, and it was.
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Jessica Shaw: it's kind of a long the Mediterranean not far from the Spanish board a real se France.
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Jessica Shaw: And he had been told to report to a work camp there, and he escaped from there to cross the mountain range and ultimately once in Spain, he arranged for a guide to replicate that journey, for his wife and two children.
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Jessica Shaw: And we even had the letters that my grandfather or two of the letters that my grandfather had Britain his children and his wife.
00:23:12.180 --> 00:23:14.640
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And I think you can see those letters.
00:23:17.220 --> 00:23:17.400
00:23:18.990 --> 00:23:20.220
Jessica Shaw: Maybe it's this maybe one more.
00:23:20.730 --> 00:23:21.060
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): There you go.
00:23:21.120 --> 00:23:36.330
Jessica Shaw: There you go right they're all they're written in English and I just I asked a Johns Hopkins Professor Dr brother Lang who's a colleague of laura's and she translated them, for me, as I was writing the story and just going to read a couple of things he brought them.
00:23:37.590 --> 00:23:44.940
Jessica Shaw: In what the first letter he said, I see that mother is quite nervous and the situation had no small part and making her nervous, just like everyone.
00:23:45.450 --> 00:23:51.990
Jessica Shaw: All the soldiers are receiving letters from their children are in the same situation, we see the unhappiness in every word.
00:23:52.770 --> 00:24:01.590
Jessica Shaw: You should not worry, children and you should play nicely with a good spirit, there will come a time and I will come home and again tell you nice stories.
00:24:02.160 --> 00:24:08.610
Jessica Shaw: A little bit later he says each day come the crazy hitler's warplanes and throwing throwing bombs.
00:24:09.060 --> 00:24:14.580
Jessica Shaw: But we pay attention and when we have killed the crazy hiller I will come home, and I will tell you how it looked.
00:24:15.060 --> 00:24:23.220
Jessica Shaw: And then just a couple of weeks later he wrote another letter and in that one it said, the word is that many stores closed in Paris Is this true.
00:24:23.760 --> 00:24:32.820
Jessica Shaw: And then he changes the tone of the letter to address his young children nieces would you beautiful children want to travel to the see.
00:24:33.120 --> 00:24:42.210
Jessica Shaw: Here, where I am such a beautiful splendid see from a distance, we see the silver waves throwing themselves and running noisily and quickly to the shore.
00:24:42.510 --> 00:24:52.080
Jessica Shaw: They hit the shore with a bang and make a big foam and spray all over those who stands nearby and then there's a break and clearly address my grandmother, he says.
00:24:52.800 --> 00:24:56.910
Jessica Shaw: Probably we will leave here by the end of the week, but it is not yet certain.
00:24:57.660 --> 00:25:10.950
Jessica Shaw: And even just reading it now I get goose bumps on my arms that is so haunting how he how he shifted his tone from trying to calm his children's waves and would you like to see this beautiful see and then says that they will leave.
00:25:11.850 --> 00:25:28.170
Jessica Shaw: He said that he will escape in my mind at that point, I thought he was going to escape with the other people that he had been the other prisoners, so at one point when I was ending this do with with Joseph how that would this Professor he sent me.
00:25:29.400 --> 00:25:39.120
Jessica Shaw: He said, you know what Let me give me your grandfather's name I need to look something up and then a few days later he sent me an email, and it said, he said, your grandfather wasn't a prisoner.
00:25:39.660 --> 00:25:46.260
Jessica Shaw: He was a volunteer in the Foreign Legion and he gave me he showed me the list we have the slide yeah.
00:25:46.560 --> 00:25:47.670
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): it's the previous slide.
00:25:49.830 --> 00:25:53.970
Jessica Shaw: There of of my grandfather enlisting in the Foreign Legion.
00:25:54.420 --> 00:26:02.580
Jessica Shaw: And by the way, so many like Laura was talking about, with the immigrant shoes so many of them immigrant Jews.
00:26:04.620 --> 00:26:15.240
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): So let me give you a little understanding of what on god's earth just happened to how is it that our story that we have grown up with was that day to Joe had been deported to work camp.
00:26:15.600 --> 00:26:20.850
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): But in fact he was in the Foreign Legion so a teeny bit more history about France and World War Two.
00:26:21.900 --> 00:26:31.380
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): When Germany conquered Paris, the French Prime Minister, Paul Reno resigned as the Prime Minister, rather than side and armistice with Germany and he was replaced by elite patel.
00:26:31.920 --> 00:26:39.360
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Who did sign the armistice and for the rest of the war ruled over the quote unquote free zone of France, often called Vichy friends.
00:26:39.780 --> 00:26:46.260
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And Vichy France was like a quasi independent entity and also causes collaborating entity with the Nazi regime.
00:26:46.680 --> 00:26:57.690
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): It never joined the axis powers officially but it's certainly employed much of the anti Semitic policies of the Nazi regime and and it was an autocratic kind of a government that existed throughout the war.
00:26:58.710 --> 00:27:09.480
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): But in addition to Vichy France, there was a French underground the free France movement that fought the Germans and undermined the Vichy government throughout the war and some of those in the underground were part of.
00:27:10.140 --> 00:27:26.970
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Yes, you guessed it the Foreign Legion training in a soldiers in military camps to fight for France and against Nazi ISM so it seems that our grandfather was part of the French resistance and actually JESSICA this just occurred to me, as I was listening to you read the letters.
00:27:28.080 --> 00:27:40.260
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): He actually hints at it in the letters, where he says, all the soldiers pay attention well each day come the crazy hitler's warplanes and wanna throw bombs, but all the soldiers pay attention.
00:27:40.710 --> 00:27:55.140
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And when we will have killed the crazy Hitler, I will come home and tell you how it looks she was telling us from beyond that he was a soldier in the free France effort and we didn't even know it.
00:27:56.220 --> 00:28:02.610
Jessica Shaw: Right, I mean I remember before reading reading that letter and thinking Oh, I guess, there were other soldiers who were.
00:28:03.090 --> 00:28:11.340
Jessica Shaw: who were in this work camp alongside him didn't put it together, I actually went to bark RS to this this camp.
00:28:11.820 --> 00:28:17.490
Jessica Shaw: where he was in the Foreign Legion where I thought he was a prisoner, the day before I started the trek.
00:28:18.120 --> 00:28:26.610
Jessica Shaw: Last August it's now it's just overgrown grass and you can, if you walk on the field, you can still see the cement foundations to the barracks.
00:28:26.850 --> 00:28:33.090
Jessica Shaw: But there's a beach across the street, and you know they're just people like you know just swimming in the water or flying kites.
00:28:33.420 --> 00:28:38.430
Jessica Shaw: As the Professor Professor Calvin explained to me at one point, our current head.
00:28:38.850 --> 00:28:49.860
Jessica Shaw: held Spanish Socialist soldiers who fled Spain to France, the other direction, after losing the fight in the Spanish Civil War Two General Franco.
00:28:50.280 --> 00:28:56.250
Jessica Shaw: In Spain, and in fact there were several memorials to those soldiers in Spanish soldiers.
00:28:56.610 --> 00:29:08.160
Jessica Shaw: at the entrance to the beach and actually throughout my my hike over the mountains, there were plaques and and monuments and rocks and different things.
00:29:08.790 --> 00:29:18.750
Jessica Shaw: In memory of the Spanish soldiers who crossed from Spain to France and almost nothing about people who escaped the other way.
00:29:19.320 --> 00:29:34.560
Jessica Shaw: But I was so I was and I frankly I kind of still am so confused by this detail that our grandfather had been in the Foreign Legion because this was a story that we told all the time, I mean.
00:29:35.040 --> 00:29:41.640
Jessica Shaw: We went to you know this was like reports and social studies reports, as we were growing up, and this was.
00:29:41.970 --> 00:29:50.520
Jessica Shaw: This was just part of our heritage that we knew this he had been he had been a prisoner, and he escaped and he went over the mountains, so why we told that all along.
00:29:50.850 --> 00:30:02.430
Jessica Shaw: That he was a prisoner when he was a volunteer for this wonderful cause and did our Father know that he had volunteered and if you did why didn't he correct us and at what point.
00:30:02.820 --> 00:30:12.060
Jessica Shaw: What was the point where my grandfather said he was going to leave the Foreign Legion and cross the border into Spain, so it just.
00:30:12.450 --> 00:30:22.920
Jessica Shaw: I still don't have the answer to that and that became a real theme of writing the story, it was not having the answers to to so many things and just the interesting.
00:30:23.280 --> 00:30:43.170
Jessica Shaw: I don't know just looking at what happens when a story is repeated in a family until it's just solidified into truth, I told the story as a child my children have told this story in school papers and it just made me wonder if if one part wasn't true what else wasn't true.
00:30:44.700 --> 00:30:59.280
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): So, as I talked to JESSICA so many times about the story beforehand, while she was there and afterwards, she would send us these these enormous text changed to to my other sister and our mother and me, while she was on the trip.
00:31:00.450 --> 00:31:07.020
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): I was thinking a lot about something that historians talk about all the all the time, which is the difference between history and memory.
00:31:07.320 --> 00:31:11.880
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And i'm going to share a quote with you that encapsulates really beautifully the difference between those two.
00:31:12.870 --> 00:31:23.550
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): History is what trained historians do it's a reasoned reconstruction of the past rooted in research, it tends to be critical and skeptical of human motive and action.
00:31:24.000 --> 00:31:36.180
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And therefore, more secular than what people commonly call memory history can be read by or belong to everyone it's more relative contingent on place chronology and scale.
00:31:36.720 --> 00:31:49.830
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): If history is shared and secular memory is often treated as a sacred set of absolute meanings and stories possessed as the heritage or identity of a Community or in our case of family.
00:31:50.520 --> 00:31:58.470
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): memory is often owned history is interpreted memory is passed down through generations history is revised.
00:31:58.890 --> 00:32:06.330
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): memory often coalesces and objects sites and monuments history seeks to understand contexts in all their complexity.
00:32:06.870 --> 00:32:16.890
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): History asserts the authority of academic training and canons of evidence memory carries the often more immediate authority of Community membership and experience.
00:32:17.220 --> 00:32:24.030
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And an essay about the slave trade, and the problem of memory Bernard balan who's a famous American was a famous American historian.
00:32:24.510 --> 00:32:37.260
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): aptly stated memories appeal its relation to the past is an embrace ultimately emotional not intellectual that was said by David light in an article that he wrote about slavery and public history.
00:32:38.700 --> 00:32:53.130
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): So I was thinking a lot about history and memory, because our families understanding of our Father story was rooted in memory, as much as it was rooted in history, and I have to tell a funny story here.
00:32:53.730 --> 00:33:01.800
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): When we were little we used to tell a story particularly JESSICA used to tell the story that our fathers swam across the English Channel.
00:33:02.760 --> 00:33:12.990
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And that story was because in our eyes, our father was a superhero there was nothing he couldn't do he was strong he was powerful he was nurturing he was carrying he was all the things and.
00:33:13.500 --> 00:33:33.000
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): He actually could not did not swim the English Channel, he swam across the lake at Camp kin during where he had gone to Camp as a child, but in our mind, it was the English Channel, the story was not factually true, but it was memory, it was memory, in the sense of.
00:33:34.080 --> 00:33:50.520
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): It was who our father was to us it was who he was in our hearts and in our minds So what do we do with this issue that JESSICA has raised this story that we thought was true but that wasn't true.
00:33:51.120 --> 00:34:00.660
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And I think it's complicated, I think I would say that the stories our families tell are important and knowing the truth is also important.
00:34:01.080 --> 00:34:19.080
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): I think if I had to guess, I wonder if, maybe the story was told that way because, even after decades our grandfather was still afraid of some sort of retribution for being in the resistance and it was easier to say that he had been a prisoner against his will.
00:34:21.510 --> 00:34:32.130
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): I don't know we don't know we'll never know, but one thing is for sure he did know when to get the heck out she knew to leave France.
00:34:32.610 --> 00:34:37.980
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And I think often when I think about things like this, I think about the the author Bruce filer.
00:34:38.550 --> 00:34:48.060
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): who wrote a wonderful op ED piece in the New York Times, a number of years back, I use it all the time in my teaching and he talks in his in bed about the importance of family stories to children's emotional health and resilience.
00:34:48.330 --> 00:34:54.060
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Even if their stories about crossing the English Channel, by the way our Father never told us he did that he used to laugh at us all the time when we told.
00:34:54.090 --> 00:34:54.510
Jessica Shaw: It was just.
00:34:54.660 --> 00:34:55.740
Jessica Shaw: me being a liar yeah.
00:34:55.770 --> 00:34:56.670
00:34:58.770 --> 00:35:09.150
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): So Bruce filer wrote in that op ED piece the single most important thing you can do with your for your family, maybe the simplest of all develop a strong family narrative.
00:35:09.930 --> 00:35:20.490
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): He said the stories we tell of our family struggles and ups and downs teach our children that they also are going to have ups and downs, and that they will make it through the downs, and also that the ups aren't necessarily going to last.
00:35:21.090 --> 00:35:31.380
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Our stories help our children understand that they're part of something bigger than themselves, and I can say, and I know I speak for JESSICA, when I say this to.
00:35:33.960 --> 00:35:43.980
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Our family story made us feel part of something bigger than ourselves whether we knew that our grandfather was part of the resistance or not, we did not know.
00:35:44.460 --> 00:35:55.830
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): We did know that he was savvy that he was strong that he was smart that he saw a bleak future coming and he knew to get the heck out.
00:35:57.600 --> 00:36:05.880
Jessica Shaw: yeah I mean and I I talked to I mean I interviewed for this piece so many professors, I was really frustrated I just felt like I had like.
00:36:06.150 --> 00:36:16.500
Jessica Shaw: A billion puzzle pieces and I was trying to put pieces together to reveal the image some kind of accurate picture of what had happened and I interviewed.
00:36:17.130 --> 00:36:23.520
Jessica Shaw: scholars Holocaust scholars from Los Angeles to Paris and Spain and Washington DC I talked to the.
00:36:24.120 --> 00:36:32.820
Jessica Shaw: Holocaust Museum, and they were so incredibly helpful there was only so much I could fill it, but this is my best guess of what happened.
00:36:33.240 --> 00:36:42.660
Jessica Shaw: My grandfather enlisted to fight with the resistance like Laura said, and while he was there because remember that our Congress was a place that the Spanish soldiers.
00:36:43.080 --> 00:36:59.100
Jessica Shaw: The resistance fighters who had fled Franco Franco regime in Spain had been there as well, so my guess is that the came into contact with Spanish resistance fighters who would escaped to France who were still interned at our cars or.
00:36:59.760 --> 00:37:05.070
Jessica Shaw: Then he found out from his younger brother his younger brother shot sholam.
00:37:05.580 --> 00:37:20.340
Jessica Shaw: had gone to Spain to fight a lot along the sides socialists, the whole family was socialist so Elisa love to the professor at UCLA who I interviewed told me she couldn't figure out that it was so early for your grandfather to know to escape.
00:37:21.150 --> 00:37:26.370
Jessica Shaw: He would have had to know the Spanish people who went in the other direction.
00:37:26.910 --> 00:37:34.470
Jessica Shaw: And he either met them in our cars or he knew from his younger brother who was fighting and Spain, and actually died in the Spanish Civil War.
00:37:34.770 --> 00:37:45.690
Jessica Shaw: He knew about the roots, the lower routes, the safer routes that the Spanish soldiers had taken in the other direction, different dictator different direction.
00:37:46.110 --> 00:37:50.580
Jessica Shaw: It was never able to find anything out about the shipping torpedoed and and my.
00:37:51.120 --> 00:38:00.570
Jessica Shaw: dad having to get off and stay in 10 Arif Joseph Calvin the Professor my main source couldn't find anything, where I was because the ship departed from Portugal and not staying.
00:38:00.810 --> 00:38:11.130
Jessica Shaw: There are files in Cuba that have not been released to the public, and I wonder if there is information to be had, and I hope that at some point, I can find that.
00:38:12.870 --> 00:38:17.610
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): So if you could go to the next slide which I think is actually two slides down Sydney.
00:38:18.630 --> 00:38:29.040
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): There you go as a historian, I know how frustrating even heartbreaking it can be to try to reconstruct the past when there are holes and missing pieces and dead ends.
00:38:29.460 --> 00:38:36.570
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And it can really make you feel a sense of despair, will we ever know what really happened to our father to our grandparents to our aunt.
00:38:37.470 --> 00:38:50.340
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): But it can also, as it did with JESSICA, create a sense of urgency, a goal a path through the mountains, if you will, it can make you search beyond what you thought you could to get answers.
00:38:52.530 --> 00:39:03.540
Jessica Shaw: So the the actual hike I feel like, here we are, like 30 minutes into talking and I haven't even talked about the hike and, in some ways that felt the hike was doing those those.
00:39:04.140 --> 00:39:12.150
Jessica Shaw: Two days of crossing the mountains from France to Spain became a part of the story, but not the entire story.
00:39:12.810 --> 00:39:18.750
Jessica Shaw: They were they were hard, I am glad I spent all that time on the stairmaster.
00:39:19.350 --> 00:39:28.020
Jessica Shaw: They were long days they were challenging days, but it was just two days as opposed to the freedom trail which, if you go on a tour that will take you pretty much a week.
00:39:28.530 --> 00:39:43.500
Jessica Shaw: My guide and would tell me all the time, about how hard the mantle and liberty trail is, and I would you know, yes, I was not and i'd be camping unable to get the words out between gasps there because I felt like it's hard to.
00:39:44.340 --> 00:39:55.050
Jessica Shaw: We camped in a refuge overnight in the mountains and sometimes when we walked we would talk about our families and the she would told me a lot of stories she heard from the children of survivors from the tricks.
00:39:55.350 --> 00:40:07.650
Jessica Shaw: that she had led and then a lot of times we also walked in silence, as I was walking the thorns tore up my hiking pants, especially on the second day we got close to the stain.
00:40:08.250 --> 00:40:18.240
Jessica Shaw: And my legs were bloody and my shoulders were bloody friend, I had these long stretches from the store any plans that we would walk aside with our hiking Poles.
00:40:18.630 --> 00:40:24.000
Jessica Shaw: And it really made me feel like I was on the right path that one of these tiny details.
00:40:24.810 --> 00:40:32.220
Jessica Shaw: I can now see it, is that it was the right, the right way that we were going so I just want to read a paragraph from the story that that.
00:40:32.520 --> 00:40:41.670
Jessica Shaw: was ultimately in the New York Times, and I thought for sure my editor was going to cut this this paragraph and tell me, I was crazy and take away the assignment, but she didn't.
00:40:42.930 --> 00:40:52.980
Jessica Shaw: here's what I wrote the night, my father died of brain cancer in September 2003 a bright orange butterfly had flown over the hearse carrying his body for my childhood home.
00:40:53.700 --> 00:40:59.790
Jessica Shaw: Other than a few suburban cul de SAC streetlamps it was dark, not the usual conditions for a diurnal insect.
00:41:00.300 --> 00:41:09.360
Jessica Shaw: In my broken state weeks after his death, I talked to a medium, who told me that the butterfly was somehow my father and he would always appear to me in that for.
00:41:10.320 --> 00:41:19.770
Jessica Shaw: Throughout my time in the Pyrenees mountains butterflies of all colors orange golden Brown and blue floated and flooded in front of me.
00:41:20.130 --> 00:41:34.200
Jessica Shaw: When I wasn't sure if I could take another step as if they were cheering me on a cynic would not be wrong and pointing out that 200 species of butterflies and 28 types of day flying moths have been documented in those mountains.
00:41:37.710 --> 00:41:41.400
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): I think the butterfly was our Father i'll just say that the butterflies where our father.
00:41:42.750 --> 00:41:53.850
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): our parents and grandparents stories are more than what just happened to them their the meaning that they gave to their stories the values that they embodied the ways that they lived.
00:41:54.720 --> 00:42:05.760
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Our Father lived a life of joy and love of protecting those he loved of trying to fix our world as much as he could have incredible resilience.
00:42:06.480 --> 00:42:18.960
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Well, we ever will whether we ever know all the facts of His story, we do know that the man he became was absolutely do in deep ways to what he and his family endured.
00:42:19.770 --> 00:42:31.290
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And while he didn't share the facts of the story, and some facts were shared and accurately, we will learned a real world of lessons from watching how he lived his life.
00:42:32.760 --> 00:42:41.550
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And at the same time we here today have a choice we who know what it is like not to know.
00:42:42.600 --> 00:42:45.510
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): We can make sure that our children now.
00:42:46.740 --> 00:42:53.520
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): So i'm going to return to the way JESSICA opens by asking you to close your eyes for a moment.
00:42:55.050 --> 00:43:01.620
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Close your eyes and think about what you are going to tell your children and grandchildren.
00:43:02.790 --> 00:43:06.570
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): What do you want to make sure they know about your story.
00:43:07.830 --> 00:43:08.340
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Thank you.
00:43:10.110 --> 00:43:11.160
Thank you so much.
00:43:16.020 --> 00:43:21.780
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Thank you to both of you for that really powerful presentation and for that powerful history and that powerful story.
00:43:23.490 --> 00:43:31.530
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): So we have actually a lot of questions that have come in so i'm going to start with the easiest one which is Laura can you.
00:43:32.700 --> 00:43:39.180
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): say again, the essay that you talked about about American slavery regarding memory versus history.
00:43:39.330 --> 00:43:40.410
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Absolute again.
00:43:40.470 --> 00:44:02.280
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): it's from a book called slavery and public history, the tough stuff of American memory and it's from an essay in that book by David w blight the book was published in 2006 by University of North Carolina press, and I can put that site in the chat as well.
00:44:03.090 --> 00:44:04.140
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Thank you so much.
00:44:05.340 --> 00:44:08.640
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): And I think sort of building off of that question that we have.
00:44:11.520 --> 00:44:16.590
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Through this journey, you know you taught JESSICA, you talked about at the beginning, how.
00:44:17.220 --> 00:44:34.830
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): There was sort of the official narrative of where the crossing was versus where many people had actually crossed does this make you think about the way that we tell history in the United States and what the official narrative is versus the narratives that I looked out at all.
00:44:36.090 --> 00:44:47.250
Jessica Shaw: Oh absolutely I mean I thought about that so much, and I have continued to think about that what we what we read in our history books how how it is.
00:44:48.390 --> 00:44:54.810
Jessica Shaw: just such a small portion of what actually happens, and you know, obviously.
00:44:55.290 --> 00:45:08.550
Jessica Shaw: Who is telling the story, you know continues to be something that that should be examined, but yeah it just It made me realize the the assumption that Oh, this is the story, because this is what has been.
00:45:09.390 --> 00:45:20.280
Jessica Shaw: announced or publicized or deemed sanctioned by government and how it's really there are so many more things to learn.
00:45:24.270 --> 00:45:39.000
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): And then, I guess, a sort of more of a history question that we have is Laura Maybe you can comment on this a bit, can you talk just a little bit more about what was required for French citizenship at this time and how that was awarded.
00:45:39.510 --> 00:45:43.740
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): that's a good question i'm not going to be able to answer it very accurately because I don't really know.
00:45:44.940 --> 00:45:48.930
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): But, in general, I can just be kind of more generally about citizenship.
00:45:49.590 --> 00:46:02.700
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): oftentimes people apply for citizenship in in all the correct ways and for various reasons, whether they are Europe bureaucratic reasons or ideological reasons, or some combination there of.
00:46:03.030 --> 00:46:17.610
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Those citizenship papers may languish in some governmental office somewhere, so I would posit, although I am no expert on French citizenship that the reason that citizenship didn't go through, for many of those.
00:46:18.510 --> 00:46:32.100
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Eastern European Jews who immigrated during that time was that they filed all the papers correctly or maybe they made mistakes and those papers either languished in some in some office because of bureaucracy or because of people actually didn't want to give them citizenship.
00:46:33.690 --> 00:46:49.350
Jessica Shaw: it's interesting because we actually Laura and I were just talking about this last night, our father had a French passport, but he didn't get it until he was in America, because he I like it was after Cuba after friends after Cuba once was in America, because, like Laura said he was stateless.
00:46:49.440 --> 00:47:00.780
Jessica Shaw: He wasn't an American citizen, he wasn't a Cuban citizen and they had to get him a French passport, at one point, our grandfather did travel back to Paris and he wanted to go back after the war.
00:47:01.050 --> 00:47:09.840
Jessica Shaw: and bring the family back, but he was devastated and he just felt like it wasn't the place that he had fallen in love with right.
00:47:11.910 --> 00:47:20.040
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): And so, then this is a bit more of a logistical question which I think is actually quite interesting and this person.
00:47:20.880 --> 00:47:34.620
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): is also the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and is wondering like how you funded this trip and a bit more like how, how can one get started, I guess, if you have any advice of how one can do something similar.
00:47:35.070 --> 00:47:38.280
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): You have to be a super talented writer, like my sister and get the new.
00:47:38.280 --> 00:47:39.900
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): York Times, to give you an advance.
00:47:41.280 --> 00:47:42.540
Jessica Shaw: Well, the.
00:47:43.800 --> 00:47:59.100
Jessica Shaw: yeah yes, the you know the New York Times obviously covered some of it, and some of it, I mean, to be perfectly honest, some I just paid out of pocket for some of it, and as and thankfully I.
00:47:59.670 --> 00:48:04.950
Jessica Shaw: Am you know lucky that I was able to do that it felt like at the time for me.
00:48:05.340 --> 00:48:22.560
Jessica Shaw: and still does this is, this is a priority in my life to do this there's not a price tag you can put on this, I must do this now, regardless of credit card bills, or you know or anything else, as far as getting started.
00:48:23.160 --> 00:48:34.860
Jessica Shaw: There are several European trucking companies who lead trips across the freedom trail across the shema dylan liberte i'm happy to to put in.
00:48:36.150 --> 00:48:44.160
Jessica Shaw: And my guide she also has a company and she also leads tracks and actually interesting I since my story came out in the times.
00:48:44.370 --> 00:48:56.370
Jessica Shaw: she's heard from people from children of survivors who did escape on lower routes and on routes closer to the Mediterranean so she has actually led people across the same route that she took me.
00:48:57.960 --> 00:49:02.370
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): I just want to mention one thing, which is our cousin Sylvia kirshner is on.
00:49:02.400 --> 00:49:14.310
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): This call right now, and she was one of our sources when we when we were trying to research, this trip ahead of time we called her she's the only living cousin of that generation of my father's generation.
00:49:14.790 --> 00:49:26.820
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And she confirmed for us, they knew nothing, no one talked about it, no one told the stories and so we're so glad that she's here with us tonight, and we feel like she's been with us on this journey all along.
00:49:27.690 --> 00:49:39.810
Jessica Shaw: Absolutely 100% I would echo what Laura said, and when we love you Sylvia and also it was just it was a really important thing for me to know, as I as reconciled how little I knew.
00:49:40.260 --> 00:49:52.200
Jessica Shaw: How common it was and is for survivors to not want I think of when i'm when we talked to still the I think the word she used with her mother would say I didn't want to burden you.
00:49:53.070 --> 00:49:53.670
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Within.
00:49:53.730 --> 00:50:01.320
Jessica Shaw: They just felt like they wanted to create a different than they suffered so that their children wouldn't have to write.
00:50:02.910 --> 00:50:11.340
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Well that's amazing but she's here with us so shout out to Sylvia and kind of speaking of sources, so thank you for that.
00:50:12.300 --> 00:50:25.140
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): segue Laura we have another question about sort of how you how you discovered the different sources that you use and how you sort of chose the professors that you talked with and.
00:50:26.190 --> 00:50:29.610
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): And how you kind of vetted those sources my kind of thing.
00:50:30.840 --> 00:50:39.900
Jessica Shaw: You know what this is kind of nuts, but i'm so grateful that I ended up talking to Joseph Calvin who is an extraordinary speller, the reason I found him.
00:50:40.590 --> 00:50:50.490
Jessica Shaw: Is I actually DM someone on Twitter, who had written something in like some small publication about the freedom trail.
00:50:50.790 --> 00:51:00.960
Jessica Shaw: And she wrote me back and she said yeah I didn't actually end up taking the trip, but you know who's a good source who might be able to help you with information about the freedom trail, this is when I was going to cross the.
00:51:01.200 --> 00:51:08.940
Jessica Shaw: The actual high one should you should reach out to the sky here's his Twitter account and that's how it started that's how I got to him.
00:51:09.210 --> 00:51:19.980
Jessica Shaw: And he was so kind and wrote me right back and he doesn't speak English and I had called an ex boyfriend who is fluent in Spanish, and he was on the zoom with me and translating.
00:51:20.430 --> 00:51:30.420
Jessica Shaw: Being the translator both to the professor and and, for me, and as far as the other people I did I read so much as I was researching this not I was.
00:51:31.710 --> 00:51:43.500
Jessica Shaw: i'm ashamed to say how ignorant, I was about even things like vishy and you know what was going on in Spain at that time there was a lot I didn't know so I did talk to a lot of scholars.
00:51:44.310 --> 00:51:52.890
Jessica Shaw: I mentioned to Lisa left she's a UCLA a sociology Professor she was incredibly helpful to me just setting the stage for what was going on in France at that time.
00:51:54.690 --> 00:51:55.590
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): that's amazing.
00:51:57.030 --> 00:51:58.950
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): yeah academic twitter's great.
00:52:00.630 --> 00:52:06.210
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): So we also have a question about how your family got into Cuba, since we.
00:52:06.510 --> 00:52:08.910
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): You know people hear a lot about the St Louis and.
00:52:10.080 --> 00:52:16.890
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Those on St Louis being unable to get into Cuba, so can you talk a little bit more about how that works for your family.
00:52:17.280 --> 00:52:25.770
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): So i'll just mention quickly, just in case anyone isn't familiar with the St Louis St Louis was a ship that that came to.
00:52:26.880 --> 00:52:28.560
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): The United States supposed to come to United States.
00:52:30.210 --> 00:52:47.610
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): With refugees know Maybe it was for supposed to go to Cuba, oh dear i'm a Jewish astronomers supposed to know these things, anyway, it was not permitted into Cuba or the United States, and everyone on the ship was sent back to Europe, I believe this is in 38 or 39 but.
00:52:47.640 --> 00:52:52.080
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): You can probably Google it as we're talking and find out the year um I don't remember exactly.
00:52:53.820 --> 00:53:02.640
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): But the St Louis sort of became this emblematic ship that showed the painful reality for.
00:53:03.330 --> 00:53:15.330
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): For Jews who are trying to flee Germany who could get get all the way across the Atlantic and then not be allowed in and have to go back, I actually have a friend.
00:53:16.200 --> 00:53:25.470
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): named Scott Miller, who used to work for the US Holocaust Museum in Washington DC and he actually traced talk about dead ends and finding all kinds of historical documentation.
00:53:25.920 --> 00:53:35.220
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): He traced every person who was on the St Louis and what happened to them, and many of them survived, but many of them, of course, were murdered as well, so the question is a very good one.
00:53:36.180 --> 00:53:47.220
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Thanks me for putting that up good So the question is a good one, like how did our family get into Cuba if the St Louis couldn't get into Cuba and the answer is, we have no clue we don't know.
00:53:47.700 --> 00:53:56.910
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): We don't know perhaps someday Cuba will open its archives and we'll be able to find out more but right now, we have no idea and there's no one alive, who can tell us.
00:53:58.500 --> 00:54:02.880
Jessica Shaw: it's it's so interesting because the information is out there and that's.
00:54:03.210 --> 00:54:11.160
Jessica Shaw: A you know it's one thing for me, I think Laura as long as a historian makes her crazy that there are things out there, there are documents I mean.
00:54:11.400 --> 00:54:23.670
Jessica Shaw: The paperwork of the ship where where our family arrived in Havana in Cuba is is there it's in Cuba, but they they do not release information so.
00:54:25.290 --> 00:54:27.090
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): I just want to say one other thing which is that.
00:54:28.230 --> 00:54:34.230
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): You know so much of escaping during the Holocaust was luck, of the draw and being in the right place in the right time.
00:54:34.740 --> 00:54:41.610
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): To just happen to be there, like to happen to be in the right place at the right time, when you were able to get a false a forged visa.
00:54:41.850 --> 00:54:46.560
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Or to you know you came 10 minutes later and the guy who was giving out the false visas was gone.
00:54:46.890 --> 00:54:58.980
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): And you didn't end up getting into into the United States or whatever it was and for whatever reason, you know the St Louis wasn't the end of immigration to Cuba people ships did come to Cuba throughout the war, and there are many Jews who wrote out the war in Cuba.
00:55:00.690 --> 00:55:12.780
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): We don't know why the St Louis and why other ships were allowed in, but so much of the stories of the Holocaust was these you know fortuitous moments or or or or lack of fortuitous moments.
00:55:13.560 --> 00:55:24.150
Jessica Shaw: it's a Laura i'm so glad you said that because that was also something that very much informed my thinking that I didn't realize you kind of think that there are these these grand moments and that's why.
00:55:24.480 --> 00:55:34.830
Jessica Shaw: This thing happened, and this thing did not happen, but what Laura said is so right it's it's luck, I mean within a month of the time that our Father likely crossed the parodies.
00:55:35.280 --> 00:55:45.000
Jessica Shaw: The philosopher Walter Benjamin also cross dimensionally submit to the pet store she very famously took him over the parodies likely around the same path, I think he crossed and.
00:55:45.450 --> 00:55:56.430
Jessica Shaw: It May or June of 1940 and he made it to Spain and as the story goes, he was carrying this suitcase and he said it would this two cases, more important than my life.
00:55:56.790 --> 00:56:14.730
Jessica Shaw: And they got to Spain and he killed himself and he the the story is that it was because someone was had found out that he was there and was going to turn him back to the French authorities, so how is it that you he.
00:56:15.210 --> 00:56:28.320
Jessica Shaw: Someone was going to turn him in but somehow our Father cross in there and didn't run into someone who's going to turn him in how did our family get somehow across from from pretty far eastern Spain.
00:56:28.710 --> 00:56:37.980
Jessica Shaw: All the way into Portugal was it were they on a train we don't have that information and did someone look the other way when they saw maybe these are people escaping.
00:56:38.460 --> 00:56:45.720
Jessica Shaw: What if someone else had been on the train and said, these are people escaping i'm going to turn them in Spain at that time under Franco was also.
00:56:45.930 --> 00:56:55.260
Jessica Shaw: Just notoriously flip floppy I mean they're even Franco himself some days, he he was fighting the Nazis and he was anti Hitler and other days, he was completely working with him.
00:56:57.990 --> 00:57:08.760
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Well, I want to thank you both so much, and I know we're nearing the end of the hour, so I do want to ask if there's any final thoughts that you want to share before we wrap up.
00:57:10.290 --> 00:57:17.460
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Ask your if you have older relatives talk to them do it now don't wait one single day.
00:57:17.940 --> 00:57:29.580
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): ask them their stories ask them what happened to them ask them everything you can possibly ask them about what life was like when they were growing up what was their family life, like what did they talk about at the dinner table.
00:57:30.000 --> 00:57:34.710
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): What were their parents like what was their Jewish life like ask them everything and do it today.
00:57:36.270 --> 00:57:45.120
Jessica Shaw: Absolutely I go that 100% I always thought with with our own father i'll ask him someday i'll get to it someday someday is now.
00:57:46.350 --> 00:57:48.600
Jessica Shaw: don't wait get the answers now.
00:57:50.820 --> 00:58:09.030
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Well, thank you both so much for sharing this incredibly important story and your journey and this history, I personally learned so much from this and I know our audience has as well, so thank you both for taking the time to be here today, and I want to also thank.
00:58:09.030 --> 00:58:10.680
Jessica Shaw: You Sydney and also, I just wanted.
00:58:10.830 --> 00:58:17.040
Jessica Shaw: I also just want to thank the Museum of Jewish heritage so much it's such a special place and Sydney Thank you so much.
00:58:17.160 --> 00:58:21.780
Laura Shaw Frank, PhD (she/her): Yes, thank you for valuing all of these stories which does museum so so does.
00:58:22.890 --> 00:58:28.140
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): yeah Thank you so much, and I want to say thank you to everyone who joined us today as well.
00:58:29.340 --> 00:58:34.710
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): And also just say that everything we do at the museum is made possible through donor support.
00:58:35.460 --> 00:58:41.040
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): So, to those of you watching me hope that you will consider making a donation to the museum or becoming a member.
00:58:41.550 --> 00:58:52.560
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): And also joining us for our upcoming programs, which you can check out on our website, and I want to say thank you again to Jessica and Laura Thank you again for joining us and have a great afternoon.
00:58:53.460 --> 00:58:56.460
Jessica Shaw: thanks again thank you thanks everyone for coming.
00:58:57.840 --> 00:58:58.170
Hear from French Holocaust Survivors
Twin brothers Henry and Bernard Schanzer were born in Belgium in 1935. When the Nazis invaded Belgium in 1940, the Schanzer family escaped to Saint-Étienne in the south of France, which shortly fell under Vichy rule. After living openly as Jews in Saint-Étienne for almost two years, the seven-year-old brothers went into hiding in 1942 on a farm in Saint-Pal-de-Mons. With the assistance of several righteous Catholics, the brothers, their sister, and their mother survived until the end of the war. Learn more about their story in this Museum program.
Watch Other Museum Programs with Jessica Shaw
Jessica Shaw is is a journalist and the host of The Pop Culture Spotlight, a daily audio show about entertainment on SiriusXM. She has also been a part of a number of programs at the Museum such as this discussion about the documentary Soros and this interview with Sal Litvak, the Accidental Talmudist.
Learn About the MS St. Louis
During the program, the MS St. Louis was discussed. The St. Louis was a boat that sailed from Hamburg to Cuba in 1939 with around nine hundred Jewish refugees on board. Upon arrival in Cuba, the country refused to let them in, as did the United States. Learn more about the St. Louis in this Museum blog post.