Jeannine Bouhanna (née Sebbane) décrit les évènements qui se sont produits dans son immeuble et dans son quartier lors de la rafle du Vél d'Hiv le 16 July 1942
"Mother don't worry, my morale is intact, I am young and strong enough"
The Sebbane family was originally from Nemours, Algeria. They moved to Paris in 1938 in search of a better future. They settled in the 4th arrondissement (district) and resided at 43 Vieille du Temple Street.
After her husband passed away due to illness, Rhama Sebbane was left alone in Paris at the height of the war with 6 children to care for: Odette, Maurice, Marcelle, Jeannine, Georges and Elie.
On the day of the Vel' d'Hiv roundup, the Sebbanes were lucky enough not to be on the arrest list, probably due to their Algerian-French origins. They witnessed the arrest of their neighbors and friends (the Polakiewicz and Zonszajn families, etc.) and the general chaos and mayhem in the streets. Neighbors entrusted the Sebbanes with the keys to their apartments, and wrote to Rhama Sebbane describing their ordeal and asking for help. The Sebbane family was one of the few Jewish families that remained behind in the Jewish quarter following the Vel d'Hiv roundup. It is for that reason that many wrote to Rhama as there was nobody else left to reach out to.
While the Sebbanes initially remained in Paris and even hid other Jews from arrest in their building, it soon became too dangerous and Rhama and her children spent the next years in hiding in an attempt to survive.
After the war the family returned to Paris, where Rhama spent much time and effort trying to locate her beloved son Maurice, who had disappeared without a trace after being deported to Sobibor. He was the only member of the Sebbane family who did not survive the Holocaust.