The Jews of St Martin Vésubie in Literature and Film

Literature about the Jews of SMV 1943

Many books and films have important sections featuring the Jews of St Martin Vésubie.

Histories

  • Nella notte straniera. Gli ebrei di St. Martin-Vésubie by Alberto Cavaglion (1981 in Italian, 1995 in French as Les Juifs de St Martin Vésubie). This is the key work of research which made the story of the Jews of the Vésubie easily available. Cavaglion, from an old Jewish family from Cuneo, published this following research carried out for a conference in 1975 in Cuneo.
  • The series La Pierre des Juifs by Danielle Baudot Laksine, Editions du Bergier (all in French). Danielle worked hard to interview local St Martinois about the War and locate Jewish survivors from St Martin Vésubie in 1943 around the world, then reconnect them to the town.
    • 1 La Pierre des Juifs (2003)
    • Les Grands Visiteurs (2005)
    • La Vallée des Justes (2006)
    • Que sont mes amis devenus (2013)
    • Saint-Martin-Vésubie : Un temps désordre (2015)
  • Holocaust Odysseys: The Jews of Saint-Martin-Vésubie and Their Flight through France and Italy by Susan Zuccotti, Yale University Press (2007). See article Susan Zuccotti’s Visit to Saint-Martin-Vésubie in September 2003 on this site and the review on forward.com. To research her book, Zuccotti met and talked at length with:
    • Charles Roman, Lya Haberman Quitt, Walter Marx, and William Blye (originally Wolfgang or Wolf Bleiweiss) — living in New York metropolitan area.
    • Menahem Marienberg and Miriam Löwenwirth Reuveni — Israel.
    • Jacques Samson and Paulette Samson Grunberg (both originally Samsonowicz) — Paris.
    • Sigi Hart (originally Sigi Begleiter and then Sigi Hartmayer) — California.
    • Boris Carmeli (originally Norbert Wolfinger) — Rome.
  • La nuit du 8 Settembre 1943 by Eddy Florentin, Thierry Florentin (2014, in French). Extracts from the book.
  • Saint-Martin-Vésubie, Commune Membre des Villes et Villages des Justes de France,  Hommage aux Justes de Saint-Martin-Vésubie et aux Refugiés Juifs Déportés en 1943 by the Département des Alpes-Maritimes (2016 in French). Published for the inauguration in St Martin Vésubie of one memorial for the Righteous Among the Nations of St Martin Vésubie and another for the Jews who were deported. The department published a summary of the book with a link to download it. Includes names of:
    • 10 Righteous among the Nations, with their stories of saving Jews.
    • 31 Jews arrested in St Martin Vésubie and deported to Auschwitz.
    • 230 Jews who were assigned residence in St Martin Vésubie, then later arrested in Borgo San Dalmazzo and deported to Auschwitz.
  • Page about St Martin Vésubie in 1939-45 on the wesbite of AJPN (Anonymes, Justes et Persécutés durant la période Nazie dans les communes de France).
  • À propos de Saint-Martin-Vésubie sous l’Occupation, by Jean-Louis Panicacci, article in Recherches Régionales 182 (April-June 2006).

Autobiographies / Biographies

  • One Step Ahead: A Jewish Fugitive in Hitler’s Europe by Alfred Feldman, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale (2001). Details of the Jewish flight from occupied France to Italy on September 8, 1943; of Piemonte peasant life and of the welcome given to Jewish refugees.
  • The Fate of Holocaust Memories: Transmission and Family Dialogues by Chaya Roth, Palgrave Macmillan (2008). In the first part of the book, Chaya reminisces with her mother Hannah, and sister Gitta, about their numerous escapes, including that from St Martin Vésubie in 1943. The second part illustrates the live process of transmission from Chaya and husband Wally to their children, with the third part focusing on intergenerational interviews:

Members of the three generations, beginning with Hannah (in excerpted versions from her earlier audiotapes) speak about the meaning of their memories; in addition, the second-generation children speak about what they hope to pass on to their children, and the third-generation children imagine what they intend to pass on to their future children, the fourth generation.

  • Mamie Blue, d’exil en exil. Ukmergé (Lituanie), Paris, Nice, Saint-Martin-Vésubie, Rome, Paris by Évelyne German, Éditions Le Manuscrit / Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah (2016 in French). Évelyne retraces the steps of her mother Annette German, who died in 2009, leaving a notebook of memories to her grandson.

Novels

  • Le pont du Var by Alfred Hart (1991, in French). Novel about the Jewish refugees under the Italian and German occupations in Nice. Alfred Hart, a friend of the mayor of St Martin Vésubie, was instrumental in achieving the erection of the memorial to the Jews in St Martin in 1995.
  • Wandering Star by J. M. G. Le Clézio (French edition, Étoile errante, published in 1992). About a young Jewish refugee who escapes from St Martin Vésubie and eventually makes her way to Jerusalem where she meets Nejma, a Palestinian, who ends up, in the summer of 1948, in the Nour Chams Refugee Camp. Review from The Guardian.
  • A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell, Random House (2005). Eliane Markowski McKee has written an excellent review of the book for this site, in which she describes how it helped her discover her mother’s story.
  • La refugiée de Saint-Martin by Jacqueline Dana, JC Lattès (2010, in French). A young Jewish Parisian refugee, Sonia Dreyfus who finds herself in St Martin in 1943, falls in love with a young Italian soldier and has to escape to Italy.
  • Un passé étrangement présent by Tony Tschaeglé, Audacia (2010, in French). A psychological novel about a man who has been adopted and decides to research his background. He discovers he was a hidden Jewish child in St Martin, rescued by his adoptive parents.
  • The Secrets Between Us by Laura Madeleine, Black Swan (2018). Madeleine writes about her inspiration for the book.

I remember the precise moment when the idea that was to become The Secrets Between Us sprang into being. I had been poring over a map, searching the border region of France and Italy (I’m fascinated by borders), when I saw a small town, high in the Alpes-Maritimes, by the name of Saint-Martin-Vésubie.

Films, TV and Radio

  • Film: A Pause in the Holocaust by André Waksman (2009). Also available with English or German subtitles. View on Youtube.
  • Radio documentary: Un si bel été – l’exode des juifs de St Martin Vésubie, by Raphaël Krafft et Véronique Samouiloff, for France Culture (in French, 2016). Features: Danielle Baudot Laskine, Eric Gili, François Mellone, Jean-Louis Panicacci and survivor Jenny Lancel Stopek.
  • Article about the recognition of St Martin Vésubie in September 2016 as a member of the towns and villages of the Righteous of France. By France 3 television, with programme extracts, including an interview with Pierre-François Veil, president of the French Committee for Yad Vashem.
  • Documentaire Histoire des migrants: 1943 Saint Martin Vésubie, l’histoire d’un millier de juifs dans la série la Fabrique de l’Histoire (2 de 4) par Emmanuel Laurentin. France Culture 2016.
  • Interview by France 3 television of survivor Elie Schonbrunn, who fled St Martin Vésubie in 1943, aged 5, and returned in 2018 for the first time, with his family (2018). In French, with some English.
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