(1918 - 1989)
Laja (Léa) Feldblum was born July 1, 1918, in
Warsaw. She had two siblings, a sister Rywka and a brother Moses. Her
family moved to Antwerp in 1929. After the German occupation of
Belgium, the Feldblums fled to France, where they were assigned
residence at Bousquet-d'Orb near Montpellier.
Léa's parents died in Montpellier eight months
apart. Her sister and brother were deported to their death in Auschwitz on September 12, 1942. Léa then went to work as a teacher and
counselor at the OSE children's home in Palavas-les-Flots. From there
she moved to the home in Campestre à Lodève. Léa was then
transferred to the OSE's new headquarters in Chambèry, in the
Italian zone. Finally, she joined the staff of the children's home in Izieu, where she lived under
the assumed name of Marie-Louise Decoste.
Léa was rounded-up during the April 6 raid on the
home. At Drancy, she revealed
her true identity so that she would be deported with the children. (Léa
had already twice declined the opportunity to cross into
Switzerland.) When she arrived in Auschwitz on April 15, 1944, Léa
led the column of Izieu children to the selection point. When she
informed the SS that these children were from a home, she was
ruthlessly separated from them and sent to the prisoners' camp.
Léa survived and was liberated at Auschwitz in
January 1945. She soon returned to France by way of Odessa. In 1946 Léa
immigrated to Palestine, where
she was married that same year. Two years later, however, her husband
fell in the Israeli War of
Feldblum testified in the trial against Klaus Barbie, the head of the Gestapo and so-called "butcher of Lyon," in 1987. He was convicted of crimes against humanity.
Holocaust Memorial Museum; Wikipedia