My visit to


« I saw a lady with white hair, whom I didn't recognize. Mom didn't recognize me either: we hadn't seen each other for a year and I weighed barely 36 kilos. »

Yvette Levy

Born in 1926 from Alsatian parents, Yvette grew up in the suburbs of Paris in a close-knit family of three children. As a member of the Éclaireurs Israélites de France (French Jewish scouting organization), she was arrested with her group on July 21, 1944. She was just 18 years old. She was sent to Drancy, then to Auschwitz, on convoy 77, the last one to leave France. For this modest young woman, finding herself naked in front of men and seeing all those naked women's bodies around her was a very uncomfortable feeling. She spent a year in deportation, first in Birkenau, then in a camp in Czechoslovakia, which was quickly abandoned by the Nazis and from which she left to find her way home on her own. When she finally arrived in Paris, at the Lutetia Hotel, she knew nothing of her parents' fate, not even if they had been arrested. She sent a telegram to their address, like throwing a bottle in the sea. When Yvette’s mother came to meet her, Yvette didn’t recognize her. She was thin and her hair had turned all white. As for Yvette, she weighed 36 kilos (79 pounds) and was also unrecognizable. Eventually, the two women fell into each other's arms and left the hotel together by subway for home. When Yvette’s father first saw her, he didn’t recognize her. So as not to cause them any more pain, Yvette didn’t tell her parents anything about what she had gone through. However, she was one of the first former deportees to talk about her experiences, keeping the promise she had made to herself in the camp. After the war, Yvette was concerned that no man would want to marry her, a deportee who was traumatized by her close encounters with death. But five years later, she married Robert Lévy, with whom she had a daughter. Yvette feels now that her trauma affected her daughter more than she expected. She devotes much of her time and energy to sharing her experiences.

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