10 June 1943

Drancy, France

"I hope that things will not become worse than they are in Drancy, and that will be for the best."

The Last Letter from Rosette Bomblat

Rosette (Roza) Bomblat, a 19-year-old activist in the "Amelot" rescue organization in Paris, wrote these words to her family some two weeks before she was deported to Auschwitz.

The Bomblat family lived on the Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Martin in Paris. Parents Shimon and Gitel immigrated to France from Poland together with their daughter Sara in the early 1920s. In Paris, they had another three children – Rosette, Suzanne-Naomi and Henri-Chaim. Shimon earned a living in trade and Sara worked with him in their store. 

After the German invasion, the family fled to southern France but returned to Paris a few weeks later. In October 1941, French police arrived at the family home to arrest Shimon. He was in the store at the time. His daughter Sara was with him and wouldn't let him return home.  He found refuge in the village of Montsûr, where he was hidden by Ferdinand and Armandine Chassaing, later recognized as Righteous Among the Nations. 

On the morning of 16 July 1942, the beginning of the Vel d'Hiv roundup in which some 13,000 Jews from Paris and the surrounding areas were arrested and incarcerated, Armandine Chassaing came to Paris and managed to bring 12-year-old Suzanne and 9-year-old Henri to their father in Montsur. Gitel and the older girls stayed in the apartment in Paris. A short time after the children left, French gendarmes knocked on the door of the Bomblat's apartment. They used the family's secret knock, presumably having been tipped off by the building's caretaker. While opening the door, Sara signaled to her sister Rosette to push their mother out of the service door into the apartment of the neighbors, who agreed to hide her. Sara and Rosette were arrested and taken away. Sara was detained in Drancy, while Rosette, who had French citizenship, was released and allowed home. Gitel and Rosette joined the rest of the family in Montsur. Two weeks later, Rosette left Montsur and returned to the Paris apartment to try to help her sister Sara. Sara was able to send a few letters from Drancy before her deportation to Auschwitz on 23 September 1942. 

Rosette joined the "Amelot" organization, which helped hide and rescue Jewish children. During Passover 1943, she visited the family in Montsur. It was to be their last meeting. On 9 June 1943, Rosette was arrested by the French police and sent to Drancy. Her name appeared on a list of "Amelot" employees; other members of the organization were arrested along with her. On 23 June, Rosette was deported to Auschwitz. 

Shimon, Gitel, Suzanne-Naomi and Henri-Chaim hid in the village until liberation.  They did everything they could to find out what had happened to the girls, eventually discovering that Rosette fell ill and died in Auschwitz a short time before the camp was liberated. 

In 1948, Suzanne immigrated to Israel through the Youth Aliyah, followed in 1950 by Shimon, Gitel and Henri-Chaim.

In 1955, Shimon Bomblat submitted Pages of Testimony in memory of his daughters, Sara and Rosette, who were murdered at Auschwitz. In 2002, the family published a book about them, En Leur Memoire (In Their Memory), with copies of their last letters. In 2015, Suzanne-Naomi Friedman and Henri-Chaim Bomblat donated the original letters to Yad Vashem for posterity.

10 June 1943 [Drancy]

My dear ones,

At last, a letter that can provide you with news about me.  The main thing is – don't worry about me. My health is good and my morale is not bad at all. I have met many friends, including Mrs. Rapoport [Rivka Rapoport, wife of David, founder of the "Amelot" welfare association. She was arrested in June and deported to Auschwitz] and Mr. Oks [David Oks, active in "Amelot," who was arrested on 1 June 1943]. Mrs. Rapoport promised me that during my incarceration, she will be my second mother.  I eat and sleep next to her. The food is not bad, bearable.  I am sending you a permit [to send me] clothes parcels.  Don't worry if you can't get hold of everything I ask for.  The most important thing is a big suitcase. Father will reimburse you. I know now why I was arrested, like all those on Amelot Street. Since my name was listed in the wages book, they came looking for all the employees. I have tried to do something here via the social welfare department [at Drancy], but I was told that all requests need to be made from the outside. Likewise, Sophie [Sophie Goldberg, sister of Sara Bomblat's fiancé, Felix Kalbnof] tried to do something through the UGIF [Union Generale des Israelites de France, the Organization of French Jews, active during the Holocaust], claiming that for the last three months I no longer worked there.  For myself, I hope that things will not become worse than they are in Drancy, and that will be for the best. The only thing that worries me is you.  I would like to know that you are well and that you accepted the news of this new calamity calmly. 

Look after your health and your hopes. I now live only for the day that we will be together again.  Do you hear me, Simon and Juliet [her parents, Shimon and Gitel]? Preserve your courage and your health.  Know that all this will not take much longer.   And you, Suzanne and Henry, lift our dear parents' spirits, and watch over them like you watch over yourselves.  As for you, my dear friends, go and join Mr. Legrand [the Legrand family in Montsur gave their home to the Bomblats to live in]; that would be better for everyone's wellbeing. Rumors abound here, so don't behave like me and don't delay. I also met Mrs. Boris's nephew and many of Sara's friends [her sister Sara Bomblat] who worked with her.

Don’t forget me.  Heartfelt hugs and kisses to you all.

Rosette

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