The Children of Izieu
The sleepy village of Izieu lies overlooking the
Rhone river between Lyon and Chambery in central France. The Jewish
children, aged between five and seventeen, felt safe and secure,
supervised by seven adults.
At the children's home in Izieu
on the morning of April 6, 1944, as they all settled down in
the refectory to drink hot chocolate, three vehicles, two of which
were lorries, pulled up in front of the home. The Gestapo, led by the
'Butcher of Lyon' Klaus
Barbie, entered the home and forcibly removed the forty-four
children and their seven supervisors, throwing the crying and
terrified children on to the trucks like sacks of potatoes.
As a witness later recalled: 'I was on my way down
the stairs when my sister shouted to me: It's the Germans, save
yourself! I jumped out the window. I hid myself in a bush in the
garden. I heard the cries of the children that were being kidnapped
and I heard the shouts of the nazis who were carrying them away.'
Following the raid on their home in Izieu, the
children were shipped directly to the "collection center"
in Drancy, then put on
the first available train towards the death camps in the east.
Forty-two children and five adults were gassed in
the extermination camp of Auschwitz.
two of the oldest children and Miron Zlatin, the superintendent,
ended up in Tallin in Estonia and
were put to death by a firing squad.
One survivor of Auschwitz revealed during Klaus
Barbie's trial what happened to the children: 'I asked myself where
were the children who arrived with us? in the camp there wasn't a
single child to be seen. then those who had been there for a while
informed us of the reality. 'You see that chimney, the one smoke
never stops coming out of . .. you smell that odor of burned
flesh ... ?'
Of the forty-four children kidnapped by the Nazis
in Izieu, not a single one survived. Of the supervisors there was one
sole survivor, twenty-seven year old Lea Feldblum.
Lea Feldblum poses next to the fountain at the
children's home in Izieu
Klaus Barbie sent an almost unbelievable recital
of the proud accomplishment and success of the action: "This
morning the Jewish children's home 'Children's Colony' in Izieu-Ain
was liquidated. Altogether 41 children aged three to thirteen were
arrested. Furthermore, it was possible to arrest the whole Jewish
staff consisting of ten persons, including five women. Cash or other
valuables could not be seized." In addition it says that the
transport to Drancy will take place on 7 April 1944. Signed:
Barbie. SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Alois
Brunner transported the children from Izieu to Auschwitz.
In Izieu a young French woman Renee Paillares, an
aide at the children's home in Izieu, succeeded in hiding the
three-year-old Jewish refugee child Diane Popowski in her home. The
little child, born in 1940 in Luxembourg, did survive the Holocaust.
These are the children from Izieu and their seven
supervisors. Lea Feldblum, 27, was the sole survivor.
Barouk-Raoul Bentitou, 12
Claudine Halaunbrenner, 5
Alice-Jacqueline Luzgart, 10
of Izieu. U.S.
Holocaust Memorial Museum photos.
Children of the Holocaust: A Memorial, by Serge Klarsfeld.
New York University Press.
Children of Izieu: A Human Tragedy, by Serge Klarsfeld. New
York, Abrams: 1984.