Marie Kaufman’s parents were Polish Jews who had settled in France before the war. When Nazi Germany invaded France, they both fled to “Vichy France,” the unoccupied south of the country, where they met one another. Marie was born in the town of Albi in 1941, and she and her parents soon moved into a rented home in the nearby village of Milhars. In 1942, the Vichy government issued an order to turn all Jews over to the authorities. After a gendarme came to the house with an order to arrest Marie’s father, their landlady helped him secure a hiding place.
He lived in a cave for three months, and then moved into a crawl space beneath the house. As he was rarely able to leave the crawlspace, Marie and her mother saw him infrequently. He visited them a few times and after one of these visits, her mother became pregnant. The townspeople, who consisted of about two hundred families, did everything in their power to keep Marie, her parents and baby sister safe from the Nazis. They hid in Milhars until 1944 when the Allies liberated France. In 1951, Marie’s family moved to Los Angeles, where she became a social worker and eventually had two children.
Surviving the Holocaust: Stories of Life
An ongoing project of KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles
and Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust in Pan Pacific Park