Parting Once Again
François and Berthe Bousson
François and Berthe Bousson owned a grocery store in Boissy Saint-Léger in metropolitan Paris. In 1938, Hillel and Nacha Rutkowski, a Jewish couple from the French capital, put their son Jacques into the couple’s care. Nacha was convalescing from tuberculosis, and visited her son every Tuesday.
In 1941, Hillel Rutkowski was arrested and imprisoned in Drancy, the transit camp near Paris from which transports left for Auschwitz and other camps in the east. He remained in detention until his deportation in June 1942. His wife Nacha was arrested in the great Vel d’Hiv roundup of Parisian Jews on 16 July 1942, and was sent to the east two weeks later. Before being deported, she managed to smuggle a letter from Drancy to the Boussons, asking them to treat her son as their own. The Boussons honored the request fully. They took good care of Jacques for the remainder of the war, and after liberation returned the boy, whose parents had been murdered, to relatives in Lyons.
Letter to Mme Bousson
Letter sent by Nacha Rutkowska to Berthe Bousson in July 1942, before Nacha's deportation to Auschwitz on 29 July. Although she writes that she sure she will soon return, Nacha never came back to her child. She was probably killed soon upon arrival in the death camp.
Nacha Rutkowski's husband Hillel had been deported a month earlier, on 22 June 1942. He survived the initial selection on arrival in Auschwitz, and managed to stay alive for a little over a month before he succumbed to the camp’s conditions. His name is listed in the Auschwitz registers as having died on 28 July 1942. This was three days before his wife arrived in the camp. Nacha was not granted the wish she had expressed in her letter, and never met her husband again.
Dear Mme. Bousson,
As you probably know, I am at the moment in Drancy, and by the time you read these lines, I will already be on the way to being deported – probably to Poland. However, don't think that I am in a state of despair. On the contrary, I am more confident about the future than ever before. I know, I feel, that the misery in which I find myself at the moment will not last long, and that I will soon return in good health. If it is indeed Poland where I will be going, I will try to find my husband and the friends I have told you about. I have one request from you: watch over and take care of my child as if he were you own. I have great confidence in you. I ask you not to give my little one to anybody except my mother. I have sent money to you. You have probably already received it. I may also send a package with clothes, but this is not certain. If I do, you will be notified so that you can go and get it. I ask you to go to the address I have given you, even though I know that you have much to do. Now I have to leave you. I ask you once again to take care of my little one so that he will lack for nothing. I have asked someone to write this letter for me, because I am not in a state to write. Please excuse me.
In order to obtain my address, please ask the French Red Cross. I will write to you as soon as possible. M. Max Bedouet will come and see you. Welcome him – he is a good man.
On August 27, 1996, Yad Vashem recognized François and Berthe Bousson as Righteous Among the Nations.