From the testimony of Nicole Caminade (Bricianer), January 2000
…My father, Henry Moise Bricianer was born on 21 March 1885 in Botosani (Romania). His parents were originally from Kiev and Berdichev, from where they had fled because of the raging pogroms in Ukraine.
At the age of two he was orphaned from his father and when he was ten or eleven he had to go into apprenticeship to learn the trade of a tailor. At age seventeen, he decided to desert from military service where he had been confronted with virulent antisemitism, and to emigrate. This was at the same time that his sister Jeanette took the same decision. While she and her husband decided to go to the United States, my father chose Paris, which in his eyes had the fascination of being the fashion capital. He arrived there in 1902. Thanks to some French language courses he had taken in Bucharest at the Alliance Française Universelle, he knew some French and found lodging with a friend in rue de Tholozé, in Montmartre. In 1910 he opened his first tailor shop in rue Jean Mermoz. The same year there was a flood and all the stock in the basement was lost.
Returning to France having stayed with his sister in the United States during some of the war years of 1914-1918 (he got influenza and therefore didn't make the return trip on the Lusitania!), he decided to found a family. He turned to a matchmaker, and on 18 December 1921, married my mother, Regina Edwabski, born 24 February 1902 in Paris.
During the golden years and due to his undeniable talents as dressmaker, my parents experienced a decade of affluence. As they were expecting their third child, my father ceded to the demands of his father-in-law and finally decided to apply for French citizenship. The act was registered on 30 November 1926. How could he have guessed that had this taken place two days earlier, this naturalization would not have been revoked by the Vichy government….
My father's business prospered because his clients were mostly Americans. But after the crash of 1929 his situation continued to deteriorate. At the eve of World War II he had to take a mortgage and place most of his property as collateral; he was even behind inpayments for his shop on 6 rue de Castiglione that belonged to the Hotel Meurice.
In 1940, however, the family still lived in a large apartment on 8 rue de l'Echelle…As of September 1940 my father was hospitalized for four months due to a grave illness, his shop was sequestered and my mother went to register us as Jews at the police station in rue des Bons Enfants. When my father was discharged from hospital on 14 December 1940, he was reunited with a large family without any resources. As of January 1941 the racial laws prohibited his having direct contact to clients, but thanks to his professional expertise my father found work sewing at home, first for Marcelle de Moniere, at 10 rue Saint Florentin, Paris 1, and a little later with Carven, who had just opened her first big fashion shop at the corner of Rue des Pyramides and Rue d'Argenteuil, Paris 1.
As French Jews under Nazi occupation, we had to comply with the new regulations, and suffer from deprivation and harassment. My older brothers and my sister worked, my mother helped with the sewing. My little brother went to school in Rue d'Argenteuil. As for me, in 1942 I had entered the Racine High School, at 20 rue du Rocher, Paris 8, and in addition to my schoolwork I took care of all my father’s deliveries. Our apartment was just across from Hotel Normandie, the headquarters of the German soldiers, but they seemed to be unaware of the provocation of our "starred" [alluding to the yellow star] presence.
In 1943 my grandmother, Ernestine Edwabski, was arrested by the militia in Nice. She arrived in Drancy on 27 September 1943 before her deportation to Auschwitz with transport number 60 that left on 7 October 1943. According to the laws established by Laval that year, they went after her family, and two policemen in civilian clothes…came to arrest the Edwabski family on 17 November 1943.
My parents refused to show any resistance. My mother even said that she wanted to go and join her mother in Drancy. We were practically the only Jewish family in the neighborhood. The policemen therefore passed my two brothers as they were going to work and never stopped them…It's a fact that they gave my parents a respite of 48 hours, guaranteeing that if they would then find us, we were sure to be arrested.
During these 48 hours my father met a friend who offered to furnish him with five false IDs (the younger children didn't need cards) free of charge. We brought some furniture, carpets, paintings and trinkets to two rooftop rooms on the 6th floor – a measure that proved useless because my parents were 100% robbed. Miss Moniere who had expressed her admiration of my father but couldn't help him, promised to keep his job for him.
Salvation came from Madame Carven….Her entire family and she herself hid us in different places. She permitted my father to occupy a rooftop room, where we hastily moved his equipment and stock. He therefore could continue to work for his upkeep.
I confirm that while performing the many deliveries I made for Carven…I never saw soldiers or officers and I never heard a word of German spoken. I sometimes met Mme. Carven who always spoke kindly to me.
I also confirm that in all the places where we found shelter and where we were hiding never did Mme. Carven nor her mother (Mme. De Thomazo) nor her aunt (Mme. Boyriven) nor her uncle (M. Pierard) require that we perform any domestic services for them. Nor did they ask for any financial contribution.
It's thanks to their courage and the risks that Mme. Carven and her family took that my family was saved.