René and Hélène Bindel, their son Jean, and Clotilde Pava

France

From August 1942 to the end of the occupation, Hélène and René Bindel hid Claire Deutscher and her son Guy at considerable risk. In 1939, the Deutscher family fled Belgium and crossed illegally into France. When the war broke out, the father, Michel Deutscher, enlisted in a brigade of foreign volunteers and, in June 1940, was taken prisoner by the German army; his wife and nine-year-old son remained in occupied Paris. With the increase in large roundups of Parisian Jews in July 1942, Claire Deutscher appealed for help to a French manufacturer who had business relations with her brother, and was turned away.

Hélène Bindel, the company secretary, saw her bitterly crying as she left the office and immediately took her and her son to her apartment. The Bindels and their twenty-year-old son Jean lived in Ivry, a densely populated low-income suburb south of Paris. Bindel’s apartment was small and uncomfortable. Within two weeks a better solution was found; Claire was sent to the home of Bindel’s aunt, Clotilde Pava, in the center of Paris. Clotilde housed Claire in a servants’ room in the attic, and Bindel enrolled Guy, under an assumed identity, in a boarding school in Vincennes, an eastern suburb of Paris. In May 1944, René Bindel was informed that French militia members had broken into the Deutschers’ apartment. He thought it best that the Deutschers be sent out of Paris. He provided Claire and Guy with forged papers and had them taken to Montreuil, a village in the département of Aisne. The arrangements were facilitated by the village priest, and the transfer was handled by Jean, the Bindels’ son. Upon liberation, Claire and her son returned to their apartment in Paris, and after the defeat of the Germans in May 1945, Michel Deutscher also returned. After the war, the Bindel and Deutscher families became close friends, and Michel Deutscher wrote the following in his testimony: “I would not be exaggerating to say that Hélène and René substituted for the grandfather and grandmother who perished in the Holocaust. For my wife and myself, they were closer than my own relatives. We met with them every day and we always spent Sundays and holidays with them. ”

On January 11, 1982, Yad Vashem recognized René and Hélène Bindel, their son Jean, and Clotilde Pava as Righteous Among the Nations.

 

This online story was made possible with the support of:

Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany works to secure compensation and restitution for survivors of the Holocaust.

Since 1951, the Claims Conference - working in partnership with the State of Israel - has negotiated for and distributed payments from Germany, Austria, other governments, and certain industry; recovered unclaimed German Jewish property; and funded programs to assist the neediest Jewish victims of Nazism.