Two classes, a 10th grade class of German-speaking students and the 11th grade class specializing in History-Geography-Geopolitics-Political Sciences (HGGSP), both from the Marcel Pagnol High School in Marseille, worked together on this project to address the following question: What was it like to be a woman or a child during the extermination campaign in Europe?
The students carried out their investigation using the archived records about six deportees: three women Margarete ALT, Anna TUGENDHAT and Henriette COVO, two children, Marcelle KORSSIA and Suzanne KOSLEWICZ and one teenager, Marcel KRAJZELMAN. Each of the classes contributed its own skills: the 10th grade class, with the German-speaking students, translated the archives, carried out part of the historical research and put it into context, while the 11th grade class of HGGSP students acted as their tutors during the investigation and helped them develop a critical approach to the sources and the historical silences in each deportee’s life story.
They split into groups according to the investigations to be carried out and then pooled their work. All the projects are related to each other and are organized in similar format. For example, for Suzanne Koslewicz:
- Investigation: Who was Suzanne Koslewicz?
- The historical silences in Suzanne’s story.
- The exhibition in the CDI (Documentation and Information Center, similar to a school library): pooling and presentation of the students’ work on all six projects, school outings, testimonies, visual aids, and sources vs the gaps in the story.
- Students’ observations: Why is it important to work on the history of women, children and teenagers? How does your work help to combat prejudice?
I) Investigation: Who was Suzanne Koslewicz?
1) At the beginning, how many records about Suzanne did you have? What did you learn about your deportee from these records? What hypotheses did you put forward?
Our collection included just 2 records about Suzanne about Marcelle in the Veterans and Victims of War dossier provided by the Convoy 77 non-profit organization, www.convoi77.org, so we put forward some hypotheses right at the start of our research:
– that she stayed in a children’s center before she was deported?1 ?
– that between 1939 and 1940, the Jews were obliged to group together?
– that before she went to the center, she was staying at 67, rue 67 rue Edouard Nortier, Neuilly sur Seine2?
– that the dates of 22/07/1944 and 31/07/1944 may have been the dates on which she was detained and died 3?
– that the Louveciennes center was her home address?
2) What did you learn by contacting the archives services and/or other people?
We did not learn much from the online archives.
On the Shoah Memorial website, we found the name of Suzanne and two other deportees on which we are working with the other groups: Marcelle Korssia and Marcel Krajzelman4. She was indeed living at the Louveciennes Center, which was run by the UGIF. The UGIF, L’Union Générale des Israélites de France, the General Union of French Jews, was founded on the orders of the Germans by a law passed by the Vichy government on November 29, 1941. On the Shoah Memorial website, we found the name of Suzanne and two other deportees on which we are working with the other groups: Marcelle Korssia and Marcel Krajzelman4. She was indeed living at the Louveciennes Center, which was run by the UGIF. The UGIF: The General Union of Israelites in France, or UGIF, was founded on the orders of the Germans by a law passed by the Vichy government on November 29, 1941. The UGIF centers regrouped all of the children whose parents had been deported.
She was also on the list, dated July 25, 1944, of forty-eight children and adults transferred from Louveciennes to Drancy on July 22, 19445. The roundup at the UGIF center, on Place Dreux in Louveciennes, took place after the Germans requisitioned the center, known as center n°56, which was a former agricultural orphanage that the UGIF had converted into a children’s home. 41 children from the center, together with their supervisors, were arrested by Aloïs Brunner, the commandant of the Drancy camp, who had appointed a number of Jewish internees from Drancy to assist him with the arrests. Six children were deported the next day from Drancy to Bergen-Belsen on Convoy No. 80 and they all survived. 34 other children were deported along with Suzanne, who was interned in Drancy and then deported on Convoy 77 on July 31, 1944. 33 were murdered as soon as they arrived in Auschwitz. Only Denise Holstein, who was 17 years old, survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen camps6.
Suzanne was born in Marseille, on the south coast of France, on January 1st, 19407. We therefore contacted the diocese and the Departmental and Municipal archives services in Marseille by telephone and email. Unfortunately, however, we did not receive any further information.
This project enabled us to learn some background information about the occupation. The terms “roundups” and “raids” are used to describe the waves of arrests of Jews organized by the French and German police during the Second World War, as well as operations against the Resistance. The people rounded up were sometimes released, and often searched or sent to Nazi concentration or extermination camps. The most famous roundup of Jews was the Vél’ d’Hiv’ roundup of July 16 and 17, 1942. In the unoccupied part of France, known as the Free Zone, the roundup of August 26, 1942, carried out solely by the French, involved 6,584 foreign or stateless Jews, most of whom were deported to Auschwitz and murdered on arrival.
Suzanne is commemorated in an exhibition at the Camp des Milles, in Aix-en-Provence, which we visited during our school trip on March 1, 2022.
3) Were there any lulls during the research? Why? Did you anticipate that you would be able to write such a detailed biography when you began your research?
No, there were no lulls during the research because we found some interesting information very early on. No, we did not think that we would be able to produce a complete biography before we began the research.
4) In what way does your work contribute to the remembrance of Suzanne?
Our work contributes to the memory of our deportee because we sought information about her. We honor her memory because it allows us to keep thoughts of her alive. She was a child who is not talked about enough when remembering this event.
II) The historical silences in Suzanne’s story:
1) What are “historical silences”? And were there any such silences in Suzanne’s story?
Silence refers to falsifying birth dates to forget trauma, so therefore there is little information available about such people. Suzanne was only four years old and there is very little information about her.
2) What does it mean to be a child? And a teenager?
In the concentration camps, from birth to age 16, a person was regarded as a “child”. During the selection process, “children” were taken to the gas chambers to be killed, and teenagers over the age of 16 were selected for forced labor. Suzanne was only 4 years old and was therefore asphyxiated soon after she arrived at the Auschwitz camp.
3) What particular types of violence did Suzanne experience? And children and teenagers?
Suzanne was interned alone in one of the UGIF centers for children whose parents had been deported. Her “place of residence” changed: she was initially resident at the Louveciennes UGIF center and then at Drancy camp as of January 2, 1944. The following day, she was deported from Drancy to Auschwitz-Birkenau on Convoy n°77. She was murdered as soon as she arrived at the camp.
The early years of a child’s life are the most important, and a child can be scarred forever and his or her development impaired. Such unsanitary living conditions and malnutrition cause enormous trauma to living children and adolescents. These was also psychological trauma, which could be due to the confinement or the loss of the family. Suzanne was taken in at one of the UGIF centers. She may have been subjected to physical and verbal abuse and may have experienced trauma as a result.
4) The roles of children and teenagers involved in or opposed to the extermination process:
Teenagers were reduced to guinea pigs. Girls between the ages of 16 and 18 were treated with X-rays in order to render them sterile, and boys were used for forced labor where greater muscular strength was required. Children under the age of 16 were taken straight to the gas chambers.
5) How does your work contribute to keeping the memory of the deportation alive? And that of Suzanne ?
We learned what they went through, that some of them had to lie in order not to die and that all these innocent children died for no reason. We must remember them and the fact that they were part of this tragedy.
6) Can you list some adjectives to describe Suzanne’s life?
STRONG, COURAGEOUS, RESILIENT, UNJUST, MISERABLE, ABUSED.
7) Which books in the library provide an insight into Suzanne’s life?
- Le Mémorial de la déportation des Juifs de France (Memorial to the deported Jewish children of France) by Serge Klarsfeld. Suzanne’s name appears in this compilation but there are no details about her.
- Parole d’étoiles by Jean Pierre Gueno, which is a collection of testimonies from hidden children who lived through the war from 1939-1945.
- Auschwitz expliqué à ma fille by Annette Wieviorka, which tells the story of a mother who answers her daughter’s questions about Auschwitz.
- Maus by Art Spielgelman, a cartoon book that tells the story of the deportation of families and children.
Sources : 8
III) The exhibition in the library: pooling and presentation of students’ work on all 6 investigations, school outings, testimonies, visuals, sources compared to historical silences.
IV) Students’ observations
BRAVO to Sofia, Unsal, Florence, Alizé and Lorène with the guidance of Ms. Laetitia Bouillon, their German teacher and Ms. Morgane Boutant, their History and Geography teacher.
1 Residence information card with address of the Louveciennes center, provided by the “Convoi 77” association.
2 Residence information card with address of the Louveciennes center, Ministry of Veterans and Victims of War archives, provided by the “Convoi 77” association.
3 Suzanne’s record card, n°25536 in the Drancy file, provided by the “Convoi 77” association.
7 Serge Klarsfeld, Le mémorial des enfants juifs déportés de France (Memorial to the deported Jewish children of France), FFDJF, 1994.
- Michelle PERROT, Les femmes ou les silences de l’Histoire, Flammarion, Paris, 2020. Quatrième de couverture.
- Association MNEMOSYNE, Coordination Geneviève DERMENJIAN, Irène JAMI, Annie ROUQUIER, Françoise THEBAUD, La place des femmes dans l’histoire, une histoire mixte, Belin, Paris, 2010. Chapitre : Femmes et hommes dans les guerres, les démocraties et les totalitarismes (1914-1945).
- Mémoire vivante, Dossier pédagogique du CNRD 2008-2009, Les enfants et les adolescents dans le système concentrationnaire nazi, Bulletin de la Fondation pour la mémoire de la déportation, numéro 57, Paris, septembre 2008.