Children's Homes in France During the Holocaust

The Children's Home in Chamonix

Personal Stories

The Einhorn Family

Group photo of children, including the Einhorn sisters, in Barcelona on their way to <em>Eretz Israel<em>, 1944Group photo of children, including the Einhorn sisters, in Barcelona on their way to Eretz Israel, 1944
Rachela Friedman and Benjamin Einhorn on their wedding dayRachela Friedman and Benjamin Einhorn on their wedding day
Benjamin EinhornBenjamin Einhorn
Rachela EinhornRachela Einhorn

The Einhorn sisters, 13-year-old Nelly (Nurith Reubinoff) and 7-year-old Antonia-Toni (Eliashar), arrived at the children's home in Chamonix in February 1943.  A few months later, Nelly's twin sister Berta (Batya Ma'ayan) joined them there. The three girls lived in the home until June 1944.

Benjamin Einhorn was born in Poland and immigrated to Germany. Rachela Friedman was also born in Poland, and moved to Austria. They met in Vienna, where they got married. In 1929 they immigrated to Antwerp, Belgium, where their three daughters, twins Berta and Nelly (b. 1930) and Toni (b. 1936) were born. Benjamin was in the diamond business, and the family led a traditional Jewish life. 

Following the occupation of Belgium, the Einhorns fled to France, settling in a small village near the city of Roanne in central France. They were the only Jewish family in the village, a fact that the local residents were aware of. Berta and Nelly went to the local school. In 1942, Benjamin was sent to a labor camp in France, but was sometimes able to come and visit his wife and daughters in the village.

In late August 1942, without prior warning, Rachela and her daughters were forcibly removed from their home in the village by French gendarmes and taken to the Venissieux camp near Lyon.  Rachela was offered the chance to smuggle her girls out of the camp and to entrust them to members of the OSE. Realizing that this might be the only way to save her daughters, she agreed, and parted from them.  Each girl was deposited with a different family in Roanne.  Berta lived with a Jewish family, the Gamzons, the uncle and aunt of Robert Gamzon, founder of the Jewish Scouts movement in France, and resistance activist.  Nelly and Toni were sent from Roanne to the children's home in Chamonix.  Berta joined them a few months later.

In August 1942, Benjamin Einhorn was deported from Drancy to Auschwitz, where he was murdered.  His wife Rachela was deported from Drancy to Auschwitz a month later where she too was murdered.

On 4 June, Berta, Nelly and Toni were taken by members of the resistance from Chamonix to Toulouse, and from there, were smuggled into Spain.  After a time, they moved to Portugal, and were reunited with their aunt, their father's sister, in Lisbon.  In October 1944, the three sisters immigrated to Eretz Israel, and joined the Youth Aliyah's absorption programs.

In 1958 and in 2000, Batya Ma'ayan (Berta Einhorn) submitted Pages of Testimony to Yad Vashem in memory of her parents, Benjamin and Rachela Einhorn.