Testimony of Guy de Vogüé, former student at the Petit College, 28 February 1984
…I can tell some anecdotes for I was so close to Father Jacques that he entrusted me with David Schlosser (whose false name was Maurice Sabatier).
Our first encounter with the reality of the persecution of the Jews was the arrival of Professor Lucien Veil. He wore the yellow star. After his return from captivity as prisoner of war, he was dismissed from the College Carnot where he had been teaching. Since he was an eminent biologist, Father Jacques asked him to teach at the school. Father Jacques talked with us about this. What I remember is that it was at his insistence that when, during our vacation, we would meet someone with a yellow star on the street, we would take off our hats and let that person pass in front of us.
Then, during the school year of 1943-43, the boys arrived. Their sudden arrival and their clothing made this unusual. I was one of the “young ones”. Father Jacques gathered the “older ones” and told them: “I trust you. These boys are being persecuted. Welcome them”.
Father Jacques also opened the doors to resistance members, those who deserted from forced labor, free masons and other unfortunate people. In the kitchen there was another Jewish boy, “Maurice”.
When the persecution intensified in summer 1943, he began to search for places safer than the college. He asked one of the older students to search among the relatives of the college people. The result was most discouraging, since all responses were negative. It should be said that Father Jacques had two persons who were willing to shelter others, but he had already placed Jews with them, among them Mr. Schlosser, the father of one of the Jewish students. It was too dangerous to concentrate too many people in hiding in one place.
Father Jacques was a man of tenderness and spiritual authority. After the lights were put out, he would come to the dormitories and say good night to every student. To us he seemed, in his religious habit, like a father from heaven. He would stop at David’s bed that was close to mine. I know because I would wait for him to say good night to me. Perhaps he knew that Mrs. Schlosser had been taken in rue de Passy in a roundup. (Transport 48).….
Father Jacques had a premonition of his arrest. Together with Father Philippe who was the deputy director he knew well what risks his illegal activity entailed, but he never imagined that the danger would center on the three boys who were students at the school. Otherwise he would have immediately evacuated them to another Carmel.
The arrest took place on 15 January 1944, following a denunciation that provided precise details about the three students. The others who were hiding at the school, Including Maurice who worked in the kitchen, were able to escape. But not Father Jacques – the denunciation gave the exact hour of his classes and therefore the Gestapo man took him together with Marcus Halpern (alias Dupré).
On Friday 14, on the eve of the arrest, I was practicing the Sunday prayers with Father Jacques. He said to me: “The elder students have had a meeting. Two of them told me: ‘there is not need to help Jews; there are enough French people in difficulty’”. Father Jacques was pale and made me swear to never resemble them.
After his arrest, Father Jacques said: “They need priests in the prisons”. His activity defied the Nazi cause – to deny Man’s dignity….
He probably was worried about the fate of the three boys. Never learning that they were gassed on 6 February 1944 in Auschwitz, he was spared this pain….
I cannot tell you who really is a Righteous person. I know that Father Jacques paid with his life for those he loved. It is proof of a great love that is given only to those who make the choice in a most profound way.
I’m sure that he would approve of our drawing our three fellow students out of the anonymity imposed on them by the Nazis – our three friends who were persecuted because of their culture, their religion and their family.
Nurtured by St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa how could he not have a special love for David, Marcus and Jean? To the extent of sacrificing his life for them. In the camps, with what he had seen, he must have had a premonition of their death. Knowing this, how could he survive?
Guy de Vogüé