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« My mother felt free. She thought she could walk freely in the street even with her yellow star. »

Victor Gotajner

Victor was born in Paris in 1938 from Polish parents who had decided to leave Poland for France shortly before their son was born. Victor's father, a soldier in the Polish army, was drafted and sent to England, leaving Victor and his mother in Paris, under the yoke of the anti-Jewish laws. On the day of the Vel' d'Hiv round-up on 16 July 1942, Victor's mother escaped arrest thanks to a document from the French Red Cross certifying that her husband was a soldier. But just a short time later, in October 1942, when they thought they were safe in the streets of Paris, Victor and his mother were arrested and sent to Drancy. They stayed there only eight days. Determined to get them out of there, Victor’s mother managed to get them liberated, narrowly escaping deportation to Auschwitz. By some miracle, Victor and his mother eventually reached the Free Zone and made their way to Switzerland. There, she found a job, and Victor was taken in by a well-to-do family of restaurant owners in Bern. He stayed with them until the end of the war. It was also at that time that Victor finally met his father.

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