August 29, 1945
Near Fritzlar, Germany

No. 49 (continued)

Dear Folksies,

          The next A.M., the 29th, I was a bit undecided as to which domicile I should head for first, fearing that some if not all of the family might be away on vacation. So, I finally decided on going to Claudine’s home, feeling sure someone would be there. Arrived at the house and was greeted by an old servant, who apparently realized who I was and let me in to try and look up the phone numbers of the rest of the family. She told me that Claudine, Giles, and the baby Dominique were away on vacation and she thought Jeanne and David had already left for Belgium, and, furthermore that Jean-Pierre and Doude and the baby had gone back to Lyon. I had been afeered of something like that.

          I tried to get, by phone, David at the office, Yvette, and Monique, but without success, so finally just sat and waited for Lilice, who was scheduled to be home by noon, as she was out shopping.

          About noon-time Lilice arrived and was somewhat bowled over when I un-curled from her big armchair in the living room, as she came thru the door. She looked a lot better than she did in January and, naturally, was in 1000% better spirits than at that time.  We had a good long talk and soon George arrived and lunch was served. The change in George is even more startling.  He is at least 10-15 years younger in appearance than in January. The reason, of course, is obvious – the return of one of the greatest little woman in the world. But, more about her – probably volumes – later.

            Lilice confirmed some of what Marie (the cook) had told me, i.e. that Claudine and family are vacationing somewhere near Chamonix; that Jean-Pierre and family have returned to near Montelimar and Jean-Pierre goes into Lyon on business all the time. J.P., however, intends going back to Paris again pretty soon, to stay, but at present business is better for him where he is. Others on vacation, much to my sorrow, were Monique, Bernard, and her returned husband Robert. I would so much have liked to see them. Bernard, apparently, is able to walk o.k. again, his fractured femur having healed well.

            As Jeanne does not have a phone at her place, it was lucky and convenient that Lilice already had a date to meet her nearby in the middle of the afternoon, thus avoiding the complications which would have been necessary to contact Jeanne or David that day. On that score, I was lucky alright for they had not as yet left for Belgium tho’ they had daily been expecting to leave.

            Oh yes, a strange coinkidinky had occurred just before Lilice had arrived home to find me in her living room. Lilice had gone to a local drug store to get something or other – a drugstore that she used to patronize a long time ago, but rarely has she had occasion to be in that neighborhood shopping before today. As she entered the drugstore she found herself surrounded by the strong arms of a rather large red-headed girl. ‘Twas Antoinette Sternberg! She is working as an apprentice in a drugstore, preparatory to taking a degree in Pharmacy. It was in that way that Lilice knew that Paulette had arrived home in Paris only a few days before. So there, at least, my timing was good, I found out.

            Talked for quite a while with Paulette and arranged to go there for supper the next day, as Anthony works during the day and only returns to supper. Paulette filled me in on the little they know concerning Sadie. Apparently, Sadie had wanted to remain in Paris with her belongings after Henri died, with the idea that if she didn’t stay, then Paulette would have nothing to come back to when the war was over. It would, it seems, have been very simple for her to have left Paris and to have joined Paulette and the kids whom she adored and missed terribly, in Rodez. It would also have been rather easy to have remained in Paris in some other section of town, not even under any other name, because the name of Leon was not a Jewish one.

            However, despite numerous pleas on the part of her friends, she remained in her own place.  She did give out various items of furniture and household things to friends to keep for her, but either she never made any note of to whom she gave these things, or the list was lost, for Paulette does not know who has any of Sadie’s things — though a few people have come to her with things Sadie had left in their care. Apparently, too, Sadie had some sort of a warning three days before she was taken.  The Gestapo had come around to her house inquiring or looking for more quarters for the Germans.  Despite that, Sadie apparently did not want to leave her place and stuck to the bitter end.  She was taken in the convoy to Germany on the 30th of June ‘44, and someone reported having found her identification papers among things at Auschwitz.  From what Yvette told me, that might, or might not, mean anything, for they stripped the people of everything they had when they came there anyway, and little if anything was kept on one’s person.  However, at that camp the old, and the very young, and the ill were immediately “selected,” as they called it, and nothing more was heard from those people.

                           Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for more of this letter
August 30, 1945

Paris Hôtel de Ville – City Hall.

René is able to talk with Paulette Sternberg, shown above circa 1925.

Paulette tells René details of the fate of her mother – Sadie Bine Leon (René Sr.’s first cousin) – who died in Auschwitz in 1944 at the age of 73. She is shown above in a photo taken in about 1925.