Georgette Brinberg recounts her experiences during the Vel d’Hiv roundups.
Source: Montreal Holocaust Museum, 2011
Georgette Brinberg was born to Polish-Jewish parents in 1938 in Villerupt (France). She had a sister who was 10 years her senior.
When the Germans occupied the North of France in 1940, Georgette’s family fled to Paris (France). In 1941, Georgette’s father was told to go to the police station with a bag and a blanket. Despite his wife’s pleading, he went and he was taken to the transit camp of Beaune-la-Rolande (France). He was deported to Auschwitz (occupied Poland) a year later where he was murdered.
In July 1942, the French police arrested Georgette, her sister and their mother during the Velodrome d’Hiver roundup. They spent a few days in the sports arena under appalling conditions. There was very little food or water, and the sanitary conditions were terrible. When the police transferred the prisoners to transit camps, they separated the children from the parents. Georgette’s mother was separated from her daughters and sent on a bus to the Drancy transit camp (France). She was later deported to Auschwitz where she was killed.
A French policeman took pity on Georgette and her sister and told them to run away. The girls had nowhere to go and were wandering on the streets of Paris. A stranger picked them up and drove them to Morée, a little village in the Loire valley (France). An older woman who lived alone took Georgette and her sister in and passed them off as “her nieces”. The sisters were raised as Catholics; they learned catechism and went to church every Sunday.
They pushed us like animals into the Velodrome.
After liberation in 1944, the sisters returned to Paris and found their grandmother, their only surviving relative. Georgette and her grandmother immigrated to Israel in 1949.
In 1955, Georgette immigrated to Montreal where her sister lived. Georgette worked at the Quebec Order of Chartered Accountants for 26 years. She got married and had three children and several grandchildren.
Georgette has been speaking about her experience for many years in schools and at the Museum, as a volunteer Speaker with the Montreal Holocaust Museum.
Witnesses to History, Keepers of Memory Virtual Exhibition:
Visit the exhibit to discover the portraits and precious personal objects of 30 Holocaust survivors including Georgette Brinberg.