In 1944 Rudolf Hoess
exterminated the children of a French orphanage known as La Maison
d'Izieu: forty-two children, aged between four and seventeen, and
five supervisors were gassed in Auschwitz.
The Children's Home was a perfect idyll and the Jewish children led a
happy life with plenty of time for playing, drawing and painting. But on
the morning of April 6, 1944, as the children all settled down in the
refectory to drink hot chocolate, the Nazis entered the home and forcibly
removed the children and their supervisors, throwing the crying and
terrified children on to the trucks like sacks of potatoes.
As a witness later recalled: 'I was on my way down the stairs when my
sister shouted to me: it's the Germans, save yourself! I jumped out the
window. I hid myself in a bush in the garden. I heard the cries of the
children that were being kidnapped and I heard the shouts of the Nazis who
were carrying them away...'
Following the raid on their home in Izieu, the children were shipped
directly to the 'collection center' in Drancy, then put on the first
available train towards the death camps in the East. They were gassed in
the extermination camp of Auschwitz.
One survivor of Auschwitz
revealed after the war what happened to the children: 'I asked myself
where were the children who arrived with us? In the camp there wasn't a
single child to be seen. Then those who had been there for a while
informed us of the reality. 'You see that chimney, the one smoke never
stops coming out of .. you smell that odor of burned flesh
While in Izieu some of the children wrote letters to their parents and
eleven-year-old Liliane Gerenstein wrote a letter to God.