Two months after Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, sparking World War II, my father decided to take our family to Evreux. We traveled there in a car, not ours, and shared an apartment with some close neighbours of ours from Paris. There were two bedrooms, one for us and one for them. In the garden by the apartment, my brothers and I dug a trench in case we needed to hide below ground from the German bombs. But the bombs ceased to fall and my father decided to move our family back to Paris.

La Debacle ( The Collapse)

La Debacle swept Paris into disarray on June 10th 1940. All Parisians had to leave the city as the Germans forcefully arrived. My younger brother Michel was ill at the time and had been in a hospital in Paris, but he was evacuated from the hospital. The situation worsened when we left Paris. I remember the sight of rows upon rows of bicycles that people had left behind at the train station. At the train station in Paris, our family was separated and we lost track of each other. My brother Charles, who was with my mother and me, took one of the bicycles and hooked it on to the side of our train. Because bombs were falling, the train had to constantly stop. The journey from Paris to Orleans, about 130 Kilometers took about twelve hours. Every time the train stopped, Charles would unhook his bicycle and ride to the nearest shop to get us bread and other food to eat.


After Orleans, the train went on to Limoges and then on to Bordeaux where we finally disembarked, thinking that we would stay. Unfortunately, because the government had transferred from Paris to Bordeaux, the German planes were bombing Bordeuax non-stop. I believe we stayed in Bordeaux for about three or four days. At this time, my youngest brother Albert was already in the south of France, recuperating from an illness. At the age of six he had been diagnosed with a chest problem and his condition was deteriorating. In those days, there were no antibiotics or similar medical treatments that we now have available, that could have helped him.

While in Bordeaux, my mother decided to contact the British Consulate General to inquire about the possibility of going to London. She was told that the last boat to England was going to leave Bordeaux withing a few hours. My mother thought about it, but decided against it, because my father and Michel were not with us. She was also worried that they would not know where we had gone.

So we went back to the Bordeaux station and waited. While we were there, my mother asked me to approach the Red Cross stand in the station, as many people had gotten separated from their families and the Red Cross tried to reunite them. I gave them our names and told them which train we planned to board, and asked to to inform my father and Michel.

For a day or so we tried sleeping on the floor in the Bordeaux station, but without much success.  The bombing was so intense that it was impossible to sleep, nor was it possible to find any bread or cheese etc. With these circumstances, we were asked by the authorities to leave Bordeaux and board a train going towards Montauban. So everyone got on the train. We were rather relieved to leave Bordeaux, as it was unbearable to stay there

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