As reported earlier, unbeknownst to René, on January 28, 1944, Yvette Baumann Bernard (his second cousin) and her husband Jean-Guy Bernard were arrested by the Gestapo in their apartment in Paris. Both held senior positions in the Resistance, and Yvette, who was 25 years old, was 8 months pregnant. Alone in her cell, three weeks later, she delivered a still-born baby girl.
Now, on April 28, 1944, Yvette writes a letter and asks her friend Monique, to deliver it to her parents (Lilice and Georges Baumann). On the chance that the letter might be intercepted by the Germans, instead of talking about being arrested or tortured, Yvette says she is “ill,” and instead of saying she is being transported to a concentration camp, she says she is going to a “sanatorium.” Jean-Guy was not with her at the time, and she does not know where he is. Their arrest was three months prior, so it is unclear why she says she hasn’t seen him in nearly 9 months.
April 28, 1944
My dear ones,
I leave tomorrow morning* for a trip that is unpredictable. I, who loved adventures, have gotten one.
I have thought a lot about you all, all these days. I am so happy to be the only one ill, and I hope with all my heart that I alone will know the diet of these sanatoria of which one speaks so much but that we don’t really know until we have experienced.
I am worried sick for my darling love who I have not seen for nearly nine months. In what state will we find each other and, even, will we find ourselves alive? I try to rip these thoughts out of my mind and cannot do it completely.
Finally, believe me, I am going on this trip full of courage, filled with an immense hope for a rapid cure. I love you all. Do not worry about me, everything has gone well so far.
I have had news here of friends who are at this sanatorium, and say they are very well, which, in these times, is extremely reassuring.”
* On April 29, Yvette is in a convoy headed to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Her registration number is 80583.
To read more about René’s French relatives, click here.