21 July 1942

Austerlitz Train Station

"During the ride, they threw some bread on the bus for us."

On 19 July 1942, the transfer of Jews from the Vel d'Hiv to transit and concentration camps outside Paris commenced. Under heavy police escort, the families were taken to the Austerlitz train station from which they were sent to camps in the Loiret region. The Polakiewiczs and the Zonszajns were interned in Pithiviers. Rachel's final letter to Mrs. Sebbane is shorter, and comes straight to the point. We sense her relief at having finally left the horrors of the Vel d'Hiv, coupled with feelings of despair and foreboding. She parts with her bread coupons, which no longer serve any purpose, and sends them to Mrs. Sebbane.

Courtyard of the Austerlitz train station
Letter from Rachel Polakiewicz : 17 July 1942, Austerlitz Train Station

 The 21st,

Dear Mrs. Sebbane and dear All,

We are at the Austerlitz train station and I believe we are leaving for Pithiviers. If you can, go and see my boss at 38 Hauteville Street, at Mr. Fontebride and tell him that we are no longer at the Vel d'Hiv and ask if he can do something for us. I am sending you bread coupons.  If we are allowed to have them, you can send them back to us. We have a  little to eat, they gave us some food. During the ride, they threw some bread on the bus for us.
 Hello from everyone, we send you many hugs.

 Rachel

We will write to you. If you can, take everything from our place, even from the Kalmas'. You can give a little to the concierge.

Written in the margin: Mrs. Zonszajn is with us.

   View the letter