Les Juifs des pays de Bade, du Palatinat et de la Sarre, en Allemagne, furent déportés le 22 octobre 1940 et incarcérés dans des camps d’internement en France. Parmi eux se trouvait la famille Odenheimer qui fut internée au Camp de Gurs : la grand-mère Sophie Schweizer, le couple Hugo et Julchen et leur fils Herbert, âgé de six ans et demi. La grand-mère mourra au Camp de Gurs ; ses parents furent déportés sans retour vers Auschwitz en septembre 1942 par des convois séparés.
Herbert et quelques autres enfants furent soustraits du camp au début de 1941 et pris en charge par l’OSE (Œuvre de Secours aux Enfants).
Herbert fut placé dans un home d’enfants, au Château de Chabannes.
Herbert passe quelques mois au Château de Chabannes puis il passe d'une institution à l'autre avant d'être placé dans une famille où il sera mal traité.
L'assistante sociale qui vint le visiter en novembre 1942 décide immédiatement de changer Herbert de famille et de le confier à Jules* et Jeanne Roger* à Buzançais (Indre).
À la fin de 1943, la situation étant devenue trop dangereuse pour un enfant juif caché, à cause de l’activité de Jules Roger* dans la Résistance, le couple Roger confia Herbert à la mère de Jules*, Louise Roger*, domiciliée à Argy, un village voisin.
Herbert – sous son faux nom "Hubert Odet" – resta chez Louise Roger* jusqu’à la Libération. Il aida aux travaux de la ferme, fréquenta l’école locale et fut même enfant de chœur afin de dissimuler sa vraie identité. La “grand-mère” s’en est occupé et l’a protégé avec dévouement, lui offrant un abri sûr, malgré toutes les difficultés et les dangers encourus.
En Janvier 1946, un parent, Fritz Loeb, vivant à Berne, en Suisse, viendra chercher Herbert, 12 ans, pour l'adopter.
Les Roger* aidèrent alors Herbert à rejoindre la Suisse.
Il changeât alors de famille, de nom (Herbert Loeb) et dût réapprendre l'allemand.
Lorsqu'il émigra en Israël, il prit le nom de Ehud Loeb.
A Tale of Two French Butchers
Jules & Jeanne Roger & mother Louise Roger
Esther & Roger Perret
Ehud Loeb with his father in BuehlEhud Loeb with his father in Buehl
Ehud Lev-Loeb, first row center, at school in France during the warEhud Lev-Loeb, first row center, at school in France during the war
Ehud LevEhud Lev
Book with dedication given to Ehud Loeb by Jeanne and Jules RogerBook with dedication given to Ehud Loeb by Jeanne and Jules Roger
Dr. Ehud Loeb was born in 1934 as Herbert Odenheimer in Buehl, Germany. During the Holocaust his family was deported to France; from there his parents were sent to Auschwitz where they perished. Dr. Loeb survived as a child in hiding. Ehud Loeb today lives in Jerusalem and is a member of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations. He feels that as someone who was saved, it is his duty to contribute in some way to rewarding those who helped the Jews.
All Commission members are volunteers; most of them are Holocaust survivors who devote great efforts to honor rescuers and to search within the nations that were involved in the terrible tragedy that befell them and their families for the few who stood by the Jewish people. It is natural that exploring the cases and the circumstances of the rescue acts often brings back painful memories from the time of the Holocaust.
One of the most emotional moments for Ehud Loeb was in July 2006, when the Commission discussed the file of Esther and Roger Perret. Seemingly it was a file like many others – a survivor requesting Yad Vashem to recognize Esther and Roger Perret, his rescuers, as Righteous Among the Nations. But it was the name of the town where the rescue took place that caught Dr. Loeb's eye. It was Buzancais, where he himself had been in hiding. Dr. Loeb’s rescuers, Jeanne and Jules Roger had been recognized as Righteous in 1989. Here now was another case of rescue that took place in the same town. Surprisingly, Roger Perret too – like Loeb’s own rescuer – was a butcher.
After the Commission decided to bestow the title of Righteous on Esther and Roger Perret, Dr. Loeb decided to travel to France and to attend the ceremony where Claude Marx’ rescuers were posthumously honored. His meeting with Claude Marx was very emotional, and they have since formed a strong friendship. As it turned out, both of them were of the same age and although they didn’t know each other, they shared a similar past. From the rescuers’ families they learned that their rescuers had known each other. This was no surprise, considering that the two were butchers in a small town of a couple of thousand inhabitants. It is very possible that the two butchers met each other from time to time during the war years. At these meetings they probably talked about the hardship of wartime, the prices of meat, and told each other about their families. But there seems to be one topic that they never shared with each other – neither one ever mentioned to the other that he was hiding a young Jewish boy at his home.
But the story didn’t end there. There was another person to whom Dr. Loeb owed his life, and it was only years later that he had gathered all the information and submitted her case to the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous, requesting that the title be also bestowed on Jules Roger’s mother, Louise Roger. The ceremony honoring her took place on 27 October 2009. Her son and grandson came to Yad Vashem to receive the award honoring Louise Roger and to see the names of Jules and Jeanne Roger on the wall of honor in the Garden of the Righteous.
Jules & Jeanne Roger & Jules’ mother, Louise Roger
Ehud Loeb once described his childhood as a film. He remembers flashes - some most traumatic, others highly emotional. It is the story of a child who was torn first from his home in Germany, who was then incarcerated in a terrible camp where he was victimized, witnessed great suffering and saw his beloved grandmother die; he was consequently separated from his family, put in institutions and with strangers, moved again and again from one place to another. It is the story of a child who at a very young age realized that he was the target of a systematic manhunt, who for several years lived in constant fear of being caught, who learned to switch names, identities and languages.
Born as Herbert Odenheimer in Buehl, Baden, Germany, in 1934, Ehud was the last Jewish child born in the community that ceased to exist six years later. He remembers being plagued by the neighbors’ children. When he was four years old, during Kristallnacht, the synagogue was set on fire and the mob attacked the family home. Two years later, in October 1940, when he was six years old, the remaining 26 Jews of Buehl and all the Jews of Baden were deported to the South of France and put in the Gurs detention camp, close to the Spanish border. Conditions in the overcrowded camp were terrible. There was a constant shortage of water, food and clothing; the barracks where the inmates were housed were primitive and lacked basic facilities; sanitary conditions were deficient and the camp was plagued by epidemics. Hundreds of inmates died of typhoid fever and dysentery, among them Ehud's grandmother. In February 1941, the Jewish aid organization for children, OSE, managed to take Ehud and other children out of the camp. Agreeing to part from their only son and to trust strangers to take care of him was probably the hardest decisions parents could take. They never heard or saw their child again. A year and a half later, in the summer of 1942, Hugo and Julchen Odenheimer were deported to Auschwitz where they perished.
Herbert’s name was changed to a French name – Hubert Odet – and he had to shed his former identity, to learn French and become a French child. His new name was Hubert. He spent the first months in a children’s home in Chabannes, suffering immensely from the separation from his parents. The OSE moved him from one institution to another, always under the fear of being caught. In late 1942 after the roundups of Jews were intensified, it was decided it would be safer to place the children with families. The first family treated him very badly. Herbert - now Hubert - did not complain and tried to be obedient, but when the OSE social workers came to see him they decided to move him immediately to another family - to the home of Jules and Jeanne Roger in Buzancais.
Jules Roger was a butcher and an active member of the resistance. Although they had a ten-year-old son, the couple opened their home to fugitive underground members and Jews. The underground used Rogers’ home to hide weapons and documents, and, frequently, to shelter operatives. Hiding a Jewish child therefore put them in even greater danger. Food was rationed and the family shared what they had with their wards. In order to buy extra provisions Madame Roger took on ironing. The Rogers displayed exemplary devotion to their wards. They spared no effort to alleviate the children’s distress of being separated from their parents.
With the Roger family Ehud had finally found a warm and welcoming home, but this was not to last. When the situation became dangerous, he would be moved to different places for several weeks, before being returned to the Roger's house. In late 1943, when informers threatened to denounce Jules Roger, Ehud was taken to Roger’s mother, Louise Roger, in Argy, a small adjacent village. There he lived on the grandmother’s farm, tended the goats, enrolled at school, and -- to hide his Jewish identity -- Ehud-Hubert became an altar boy. He wanted to be Catholic like all his friends, but the Rogers explained that he must not deny his origins, but rather be proud of them. After the war he was returned to the Roger family, where he stayed until he was put in charge of the Jewish welfare organizations.
Ehud was put in a children's home. The war was over and the children were waiting for their parents or relatives to come and get them. Every day children left accompanied by family, but no one came for Ehud. Later he learned that his mother had been deported on 4 September 1942 to Auschwitz, and his father was put on a transport three days later. Both perished. In 1946 Ehud was sent to distant relatives in Switzerland. He had to re-learn his mother tongue – German, and his family name was changed - again - to Loeb. When he emigrated to Israel he adopted a Hebrew name: Ehud Loeb.
Yad Vashem knows of another child that was hid by the Rogers. Léopold Lazare was four years old when he found shelter with the Rogers after his family had been sent to Buchenwald and the OSE had removed him from the Rivesaltes camp. Lazare lived with the Rogers until the end of the occupation. He regarded the Rogers as his parents, and was reluctant to part with them when his parents reclaimed him after the war.
On May 7, 1989, Yad Vashem recognized Jules and Jeanne Roger as Righteous Among the Nations.
On December 7, 2008, Yad Vashem recognized Louise Roger as Righteous Among the Nations.
Esther & Roger Perret
The Marx family were Jewish refugees from Nancy, who came to Buzancais in 1940. Justin Marx was a butcher and found employment at the town's slaughter-house. The family befriended their neighbors – Esther and Roger Perret. In 1943 the French policemen warned the Jews in Buzancais that a roundup was planned. The Marx family escaped to the villages in the town's vicinity, but their young son, Claude, who was nine years old at the time, stayed with the Perret family. The family arranged a hidden space for him in the attic. From his shelter he heard the police arriving at night in the next house, which used to be his family's home, and their knocking on the door. Claude stayed with the Perret family until liberation.
On 10 July 2006 Esther & Roger Perret were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
Remarks by Dr. Ehud Loeb at the ceremony in honor of Louise Roger, Yad Vashem, 27 October 2009
Permit me to say a few words in honor of a modest, hones woman, who was of strong character, sometimes even a bit rigid and authoritarian. A widow, a peasant woman with a farm which held a chicken pen, a cow, a couple of goats, a vegetable patch, not far from the vineyard owned by her family. She lead a simple and modest life. There was no electricity or running water. It was in the fall of 1943 when I was brought to her; I stayed until the area was liberated from the Germans in August 1944. I shared her life of work and poverty. At the age of ten I helped with the chores. My favorite task was to tend to the cow and goats.
Madame Louise Roger may have been lonely and introvert, she demanded a great deal from herself and from others, but she was a woman with a generous heat. I do not remember every receiving a hug or a kiss from her, but I loved her and knew that she loved me. I had become her grandchild.
In these difficult and dangerous months I was happy. It was a fragile and passing happiness. I lived in an illusion that I was like the other children. I went to school, to religion classes, and became an altar boy. I knew children at school, but my real friends were the animals on the farm and above all, I had a grandmother. My grandmother.
At her home I could forget for several months that I am no longer that Herbert Odenheimer, the small uprooted Jewish boy, a boy born in 1934 and deported to the camp of Gurs, a boy that was put under the charge of the OSE, A Jewish oganization for the welfare of children that hid and cared for thousands of children in occupied France, a boy that was brought from Gurs to a children home. From the beginning of September 1942 I was hidden in the homes of French families. Thus I was brought in November 1942 to the home of Jules Roger, the son of Louise Roger, and his wife Jeanne in the town of Buizancais in the Region of Indre. I did not know at that moment that I had already become an orphan. The very same months of September 1942 my parents were deported from the camp of Gurs and Rivesaletes to their death in Auschwitz. Jules and Jeanne Roger protected me, cared for me, fed me and gave me clothes. They did their utmost to indulge me and to be a substitute family to me. After the long and painful separation from my parents, I wanted to call them mother and father, exactly like Popol, the small Jewish boy whom they had also taken into their home. Popol was three years old and did not understand that the Rogers were not his real parents. Uncle Jules and Aunt Jeanne, as they had me call them, were recognized as Righteous Among the Nation by Yad Vashem in 1989 for having saved two Jewish boys, Popol and I.
Towards the end of 1943 the situation in Buzancais deteriorated. Jules Roger was a member of the resistance, and the Roger couple hid wounded persons, arms and maps in their home. The transferred me to the home of Louise Roger, the mother of Jules Roger, in Argy, a small village in the vicinity of Buzancais. This was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. Adopting a new identity and with false papers I became Hubert Odet. Only Louise Roger and the priest knew my true identity. I had meanwhile mastered the French language and I began to talk in the local dialect. I was a good student, became an altar boy who helped the priest during the celebration of mass. I did this to perfection; I had learned to say the prayers in Latin. I lived a life of falsehood in order to survive.
My life with the grandmother was a tranquil, but hard country life. Working with the animals that I loved, and they loved me in return. I had found shelter with this simple woman of serious character, a woman that kept her distance, but who had a golden heart. I felt safe and protected from arrest and denunciation. She protected me from deportation and from the fate of my parents, my family, my Jewish brothers and sisters. Louise Roger saved my life when the German occupation forces and French Militia people where around.
In those dark days of the Holocaust, of the murder of six million Jews, among them one and a half children, it was often simple people who dared to say: No. No to the negation of the humanity of the other; no to barbarism. These people where real combatants. Their weapons were not a machine gun or a hand grenade, their invincible weapons were conscience and compassion. These people save numerous persecuted. They defied those who wanted to introduce a satanic ideology of hatred and to lead people with no moral fiber to perpetrate unimaginable crimes. In those days of darkness there were brave men and women with conscience. They may have been few, but they existed. We are grateful to them. Following the ceremony in 1989 honoring Jules and Jeanne Roger in the municipality of Paris a young woman approached Jeanne Roger: Permit me to shake the hand of a Righteous Among the Nations, of a heroine, she asked. She went on to say: Madame, what made you act so courageously and take such great risks? Aunt Jeanne did not hesitate and responded: I just did my human duty.
Grandmother Louise Roger would have probably given the same response: She too was one of the simple, courageous heroic Righteous Among the Nations.
After I left France in 1946 I remained in close contact with Uncle Jules and Aunt Jeanne until their death. Unfortunately I never again met the grandmother. She died on 24 June 1947. With my wife and children I visited the Roger family often: The contact is maintained with their son and daughter until this very day. On our trips to Buzancais we never failed to visit Argy: I wanted to see the farm again, the fields where I went with the cow and the goats, the church, the school. These places, where the grandmother hid and saved me, are engraved in my memory and in my heart. Only thanks to the OSE organization and the rescuers, many of whom remain unidentified, especially to Jules and Jeanne Roger and to grandmother Louise Roger, who is being honored here today, at Yad Vashem, I can hug my wife, our four children and ten grandchildren.
The grandson of Louise Roger, Mr. Robert Roger and his wife Monique, as well as his sister Madame Marie-Therese (who was born after the war) came from France to be with us today. Robert is my big brother. Both of us are the grandchildren of Louise Roger.
Remarks by Robert Roger, grandson of Righteous Among the Nations Louise Roger, at the ceremony in her honor, Yad Vashem, 27 October 2009
I would first like to thank you for the hospitality that my wife, my sister and I are enjoying. I am somewhat embarrassed, because if my grandmother had been her in my place, she would not have been able to read what I am about to say, since she could hardly read and write. She grew up in a poor family; when she went to school, her teacher had her work in his garden, rather then study. It was around 1880. So she wouldn’t have read from this page, but she would have let her kind heart speak for her, a heart that she concealed under an austere exterior, with little manifestations of love and tenderness. She had three sons: Gustave, René and Jules, my father, and since when I was born my parents experienced some difficulties, she raised me for three years. Having lost her husband at a relatively young age, she took pride in having thanks to her hard work and deprivation, kept, her little farm with a horse, a cow, some goats, several pigs, a small bit of land. She left her farm only to go to church on Sunday, for visits in the neighborhood, and of course, for family celebrations that gave her the love and warmth that she certainly missed.
Having suffered from loneliness and the ungratefulness of her neighbors, she was willing to offer the remnants of her love to the first person that would extend their hand to her. Thus when Hubert came into her life, she never asked questions, she never calculated the additional expenses, and above all, she never contemplated the danger from the Nazi barbarians who had no compassion. Hubert was endangered and defenseless, and despite her 65 years she did the necessary. Shortly before the arrival of Hubert, two girls that had to be hidden were staying with her. But they did not stay for long.
She died in 1947, at the age of 69, from a heart attack, all alone in her home. More than sixty years later, Hubert and I remember her as a dignified and courageous woman, and will remember her until our last day.
S’il n’y avait pas Gurs... Je devrais vraisemblablement, ce mois-ci, remettre à mes fils l’imprimerie-papeterie.
Ayant atteint l’âge de la retraite, je leur transmettrais l’héritage reçu de mon père, dans cette ravissante petite ville de la Forêt-Noire connue pour ses prunes. Je parlerais ce patois caractéristique du pays de Bade, cette belle région aux forêts épaisses et aux pâturages fertiles. Les jours de Jahrzeit, je me rendrais au vieux cimetière juif, où, depuis 1803, repose mon arrière-arrière grand-père. Le vendredi soir, nous irions à la synagogue...
Mais en 1938, j’ai vu mon père, dont l’imprimerie-papeterie avait été confisquée, revenir brisé du camp de Dachau.
Et j’ai vu notre synagogue brûlée la Nuit de Cristal. Et j’ai vu, quelques jours avant notre déportation, la foule ivre de haine se ruer sur la maison où tous les Juifs de la ville s’étaient réfugiés. Je fus parmi les 6 500 Juifs qui arrivèrent le 25 octobre 1940 à Gurs. J’avais six ans et demi et on me mit donc dans la même baraque que ma mère. Je n’ai jamais revu mon père. Ma grand-mère est morte à Gurs trois semaines après notre arrivée.
Je me souviens très bien de Gurs. La faim, le froid, la pluie, la boue. De mes petites mains, je ramassais des pierres pour aider les "grands" à construire une sorte de passerelle au milieu de cette boue grise, épaisse. Je me rappelle les paillasses humides, les baraques sombres. Je revois le visage de ma mère bien-aimée et je pense à son désespoir de me voir enfermé dans cet enfer, et à son courage surhumain quand, en 1941, elle m’a confié à des étrangers qui m’ont fait sortir du camp. Je fus placé dans des homes d’enfants de l’OSE, caché chez des paysans, repris en 1944 par l’OSE. Mes parents furent déportés en septembre 1942, sans savoir si j’étais vivant ou mort.
J’ai survécu à Gurs. Suis-je un rescapé de Gurs ? Les mois que j’y ai passés ont-ils pu former le caractère d’un enfant de sept ans au point qu’il n’a jamais pu oublier ? 55 ans après mon arrivée à Gurs, je me souviens de tout, de détails d’une banalité dérisoire, comme par exemple la chasse aux boîtes de conserve vides qui servaient de pots de chambre.
Je me suis marié en Israël, vingt ans après mon internement à Gurs. Le Rabbin qui nous a mariés m’a immédiatement reconnu ; Léo Ansbacher, qui se souvient de moi, petit gamin à Gurs. Dix ans plus tard, j’ai trouvé la jeune femme qui avait fait sortir de Gurs une soixantaine d’enfants, dont j’étais : Andrée Salomon. Elle fit aussitôt partie de notre cercle de famille à Jérusalem.
Ces cinquante dernières années de ma vie me semblent plus courtes que les sept premières. Un profond fossé sépare ces deux parties inégales : Je ne suis pas devenu ce que là-bas, au pays de Bade, j’aurais dû devenir ; tout a changé à Gurs, à cause de Gurs, après Gurs, depuis Gurs. Ma grand-mère y est morte, mes parents, de Gurs, sont allés à la mort à Auschwitz. Mon enfance est morte à Gurs, quand j’avais sept ans. Elle n’a jamais pu ressusciter.
Paul Joseph dit Joseph Bourson Arrêté comme otage et fusillé le 11 juin 1944 à Mussidan (Dordogne), Blog2 pages,
réalisation 2011 Auteur :
Article rédigé à l'occasion de mes recherches généalogiques, puis la mise en ligne d'un blog (http://majoresorum.eklablog.com)dédié à la famille BOURSON qui a été expulsée en 1940 du village de Vigy (Moselle) et réfugiée à Mussidan (Dordogne) et les villages alentours où elle a vécu toute la durée de la guerre. Plusieurs personnes natives de Vigy faisaient partie des 52 otages fusillés le 11 juin 1944.