January 28, 1944 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

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.


In an interview in 1980, Yvette recounted what happened that night:

“When they knocked on the door, it was a Sunday night, the 28th of January 1944 in Paris. We were arrested at rue Boissy d’Anglas. Jean-Guy had a secretary who had been arrested three weeks earlier, so we had left the apartment. She was interrogated, but said nothing and we thought we could return. It is at that moment that she talked. I believe that she was horribly tortured. I never wanted to see her again and I could never bear to hear her name. It was not her fault, but she could have committed suicide – others had done that – it would have been better. 

Anyway, they knocked. I was in the kitchen and Jean-Guy opened the door. It was a very little apartment with two rooms and a kitchen. When I didn’t hear anything, I went into the other room. Jean-Guy was sitting in a chair with his hands bound behind his back. I had three or four pistols pointed at me. They were plainclothes types, including a woman, and I realized afterwards that I had seen her before on the street. Some were French and one or two were Germans.”


To read more about René’s French relatives, click here.

Yvette Baumann Bernard and Jean-Guy Bernard on their wedding day– October 8, 1943





April 28, 1944 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

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.


Yvette Baumann Bernard and Jean-Guy Bernard – (above) in October 1943 on their wedding day and (below) in December 1943.




August 3, 1944 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

Unbeknownst to René, on July 31, 1944, Jean-Guy Bernard (the husband of René’s second cousin  Yvette Baumann Bernard) was “deported” from Drancy Prison in northeastern France aboard Convoy No. 77. Destination: Auschwitz, Poland.

Passionate for aviation, Jean-Guy had enlisted as an aviation fighter in 1939. He is one of the few aviators to have bombed Berlin in 1940. After the armistice, he returned to the polytechnic school in Lyon. After working as an engineer during the winter of 1941-42, Jean-Guy joined Combat, one of the resistance movements in France. Over the next couple of years, he assumed successive leadership roles in various resistance groups. On October 8, 1943, he married Yvette, who was the head of the social service of Combat. On January 28, 1944, they were arrested in their Paris apartment by the Gestapo.

To read Yvette’s account of the arrest, click HERE.

 

According to Sylviane Toporkoff, Yvette’s daughter, “Upon his arrival at Auschwitz on August, 3, Jean-Guy was shot in the legs.  And because injured individuals were not allowed into the camp, he was sent directly into the gas chamber. He was 26 years old.

Around this time, someone told Yvette, who had been at Auschwitz since April 29, that a certain ‘Bernard’ had gone straight into the gas chamber. His description, red hair, etc. corresponded to Jean-Guy, but as she did not have the first name for sure, she clung to the idea that it was not him … but in fact she was certain of it.”


Many years later, Yvette wrote the following poem (English translation):

“How”
My love
More than the fact that you are dead
What is unbearable to me is how you died.
All of you, that you are dead is already quite frightful
But the way that you died is intolerable.

 

To read more about René’s French relatives, click here.


Yvette Baumann Bernard and Jean-Guy Bernard – (above) in October 1943 on their wedding day and (below) in December 1943. Yvette and Jean-Guy were both high-ranking members of the French resistance. They were arrested by the Gestapo on January 28, 1944.