Testimony of Lore Michel Tourtebatte, sister of Hans Michel, 30 October 1984

My name is Lore Marianne Michel (Tourtebatte), residing in Paris…., born 1 March 1924 in Frankfurt/Main (Germany). I lived in the 9th quarter of Paris until the arrest of our family on 16 July 1942. Only my brother and I were left.

My brother did not come back and I therefore have to testify in his place.

His name was Hans Helmut Michel (Jean Bonnet during his stay in the “Petit College”), and he was born on 6 November 1930 in Frankfurt/Main.

On 29 December 1942 we were in our old apartment, 6 rue Saulnier, Paris, with our grandmother. We were denounced, but managed to escape the arrest and flee. We hid with a French Catholic lady, Mademe Marguerite Weinberger, in the 19th quarter. From there we were told to go to Sister Marie-Louise at the convent of the Sisters of Zion in rue Notre Dames des Champs. Consequently my brother was sent to Father Devaux, who was, I believe in the same street. It was Father Devaux who organized his being places in Avon, with Father Jacques, and it was Madame Weinberger who participated in arranging his transfer. She told me about the warm and tender welcome they experienced by Father Jacques.

Sister Marie-Louise sent me to a family in the Loiret District.

During the 1943 school vacations, Father Jacques arranged for me to meet my bother twice in the Petit College. On these occasions I finally made his acquaintance and thanked him for everything he had done for my brother. I remember our conversation perfectly. I told him that I would never have the financial means to repay him for the boarding and school fee. He was almost angry with me and responded: ‘paying is out of question, now or later. I hope Jean will stay here and finish his schooling. Even once the war is over, since he has no more parents, we will replace them.’

During these visits I would walk with my brother in the College’s gardens. He would tell me about his life. Under the protection of Father Jacques he had no more fear of being arrested and felt that he was like all the other children. He also told me that he believed he wasn’t the only Jewish boy in the school, but that everything was organized by Father Jacques in such a manner that the others would not suspect anything.

Then there was the terrible day of 15 January 1944! Since I was spared experiencing this tragedy, I don’t know if there were other survivors among the children of the school.

I believe I am the only one who can testify so that Father Jacques will be posthumously honored for his devotion. All that remains of my annihilated family is a cousin in Haifa (Robert Michel), a cousin in Kibbutz Ein HaNatziv (Lotte Rein nee Michel) and her brother Ernest Michel in New York, who was one of the organizers of the survivor gathering in Jerusalem in 1981.