The Hidden Children In France Publication date : February 9, 2012
Nathalie Zajde is a senior lecturer in clinical psychology at the University of Paris-VIII-Saint-Denis and a member of Professor Tobie Nathan’s ethno-psychiatry team at the Georges Devereux Centre. She created the first structures in France to provide psychological support for former “hidden children” and for the descendants of Holocaust survivors.
She is the author of Guérir de la Shoah and Enfants de survivants (published by Odile Jabob).
“Their names are Boris Cyrulnik, Serge Klarsfeld, Saül Friedlander, André Glucksmann, Sarah Kofman, Simha Arom. They were young Jewish children during the war. They were destined to die in the death camps; they were miraculously saved.
“We call ‘hidden children’ those Jewish survivors who were children during the Holocaust and who had to hide their identity in order to avoid arrest, deportation and extermination. France was one of the few countries where it was possible to set up a reliable organisation to save Jewish children — and it was highly effective.
“But what went on in the minds of all those children who were caught in the torment of deadly anti-Semitic persecution? How did they react to the fact that the authorities had decided to kill them because they were Jewish? And how did they then react to this aggression against their identity?” writes Nathalie Zajde.
• The extremely moving testimonials of fifteen hidden children, some of whom became famous, others who remained anonymous.
• The psychological strategies these children set up when very young, to escape persecution and the horrors of the time.
• 2012 marks the 70th anniversary of the first deportations of Jewish children in France, and the centenary of the creation of the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (a charity to assist children) which was instrumental in helping save Jewish children during the Second World War.