CHASJA (HASSIA) MOINET
We are the 10th grade class of the Lycée Français Prins Henrik (a French high school in Copenhagen, Denmark) and we have written this biographical essay about Chasja (Hassia) Moinet.
Chasja Moinet was one of the deportees on the last major convoy from Drancy to Auschwitz, Convoy 77. At the instigation of the Convoy 77 association  students were invited to write the biographies of the victims of the Holocaust deported as part of this convoy on July 31, 1944. Based on the digitized archives provided by the association (44 items), research done by the students on the Internet and contacts made with a descendant, Ms. Sabine Moinet, people from Saint-Jean-d’Angély and memorial organizations (e.g. Yad Vashem), we began collecting data to write the biography of Chasja Moinet, née Judin, for publication on the Convoy 77 website.
First of all, we will explain our interest in the project: Chasja’s life story is not only an example of the atrocities committed during the Second World War by the Nazi regime, but also plays an important role in reminding us that the victims were, first and foremost, individual people just like us. During our work, we encountered some difficulties, especially at the beginning. For example, we had information that Chasja’s maiden name was Judius, when in fact it was Judin, and we also found it difficult to find information about her childhood in Riga.
I – Childhood in Riga
Thanks to Sabine Moinet’s valuable information, we were able to reconstruct Chasja Moinet’s childhood. She was born in Riga in May 1907 and came from a family that was part Jewish and part secular. She grew up in the city of Riga, in Latvia. Her parents worked in the fabric business. They were wealthy people and Chasja had a cultivated and rather “liberal” education. Following on from her studies, she first travelled to Germany and then to France where she was able to perfect her German and French skills, although she already spoke Yiddish, Latvian and Russian.
II – Chasja Judin’s marriage
Chasja went travelling in Tunisia which, at that time, was a French protectorate, and it was there that she met François Moinet. Subsequently, on 10 December 1935, they married, which allowed Chasja to obtain French nationality. She moved in with François, who was already living in Saint-Jean-d’Angély in the southwest of France, where he was a pharmacist. The couple gave birth to a son, Jacques Moinet on August 11, 1936. Chasja did not work outside the home at that time.
III – Chasja’s Arrest
Chasja Moinet was arrested by the Gestapo on 16 May 1944 in Tarbes, on racial and political grounds. In a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs, her father-in-law wrote: “I am completing, in case it is needed, the address of the clinic in Tarbes where the Gestapo arrested my daughter-in-law in May ’44: (she was hidden there as a nurse under the assumed name: Barthelemy)” In addition, her granddaughter wrote to us in an email: “She was arrested by the Gestapo on May 16, 1944, and imprisoned in Toulouse.” It is thanks to this information that we know the exact date of her arrest.
She was, then, hiding in a clinic in Tarbes, which belonged to Drs. Lapeyre and Maihle: “I, Dr. Lapeyre, hereby certify on my honor that I have welcomed into my home Mrs. Moinet, the wife of one of my war comrades (the pharmacist in my ambulance No. 267)”  .. Dr. Lapeyre was a member of the Resistance and a friend of Chasja’s husband. Chasja was hidden under the false identity of Mrs. Barthelemy, and played the role of a nurse, as explained by her father-in-law in the letter mentioned above.
She had therefore left Saint-Jean-d’Angély in February 1944 to take refuge in Tarbes, as we were able to confirm from an arrest report. . The same document also states with regard to her arrest that she was “no doubt discovered as a result of gossip”. It is therefore very likely that she was found by the Gestapo as a result of a tip-off. The place of arrest was the clinic in Tarbes, which was at 12, rue Nansouty. Her father-in-law also states that Chasja felt herself a part of the resistance movement: “I certify that my daughter-in-law has never wavered in her feelings of resistance, being Israelite and feeling persecuted.”
IV – Accounts of the arrest
Two testimonies tell the story of Chasja Moinet’s arrest in July 1944 and allow us to better understand the circumstances surrounding it. In the first, a book entitled Du haut des tours, published in 2014, Marie-Claude Monchaux, an illustrator and author of children’s books, recounts her childhood. The book is publicly available on the Internet . In one excerpt, she recounts the arrest of Chasja and in particular that of François Moinet in Saint-Jean-d’Angély. The author gives us a personal point of view based on her childhood memories of events that occurred when she was only 11 years old. In her story, she explains how François, a friend of her family, came to ask for help on the evening of March 17, 1944. Marie-Claude Monchaux’s father offered to help, with the support of a resistance network, but François Moinet did not accept this proposal for the sake of his pharmacy, which he did not want or was unable to close due to financial reasons. On the contrary, he did accept the offer of help for his wife Chasja and their son Jacques. The author then explains how Chasja set off with falsified documents and how her son Jacques, who was then 8 years old, was sent to François’ parents. However, according to Noël Santon’s account, on which the Town Hall of Saint-Jean-d’Angély bases its information, raids were conducted on January 29, 1944 and Chasja was warned in advance “by a policeman, on January 28”. She thus left for Tarbes and on the day of the roundups, i.e. January 29. François Moinet was reportedly arrested and interrogated for one hour and then released. Here is the transcript of a presentation made by Mr. Cyril Chappet, the Mayor’s deputy at the Town Hall, at the Town Council meeting of November 9, 2016 to correct the incorrect spelling of “Chasta” Moinet to “Chasja” Moinet: “François Moinet was born on June 10, 1908 in Orléans. He was a pharmacist at 25, rue Gambetta [in Saint-Jean-d’Angély], a pharmacy that still exists today. He had married Chasja, who was born on May 1, 1907 in Riga, Latvia, and was of Jewish faith. In the book “Saint-Jean sous la botte” [Saint-Jean under the jackboot], Noël Santon writes that “a few days after the assassination of the resistance fighter Georges Texier on January 29, 1944, roundups of Jews were organized in Saint-Jean-d’Angély”. Chasja Moinet was informed the day before by a policeman and left Saint-Jean-d’Angély to go to the south of France. François Moinet was then arrested on January 29, 1944 and questioned at the police station. Not knowing where his wife was, he was released after an hour.” Apparently, therefore, according to this extract, by March 17, Chasja was already on the run.
Marie-Claude Monchaux’s account then turns to subsequent events and only recounts how, having been denounced as the husband of a Jewish woman, François had to wear a yellow star. The witness to this event was Marie-Claude Monchaux’s younger brother, who heard sirens and then saw the Gestapo go to the Moinet house to arrest François. The excerpt ends with François’ arrest and says that he and his wife died together in a camp.
This version of events can be criticized on several counts. Firstly, the author’s age at the time of the events, which are described extremely accurately for her eleven years. This accuracy is questionable. Secondly, the place and circumstances of the couple’s death do not correspond to the reality of the proven facts: they did not die at the same time, François died in Bergen-Belsen in May 1945 and Chasja in Auschwitz, probably in early August. The author also adds that Chasja went to the Gestapo of her own accord, to ask that her husband be released (p. 134 of the book), which does not concur with the other testimonies and sources.
The second publication, a book entitled Saint-Jean sous la botte, was written by Noël Santon, author and creator of a French literary magazine, who died in Saint-Jean-d’Angély in 1958. It was first published in 1947 as a journal of the Occupation between 1940-1944. It is not available free of charge, so we were unable to read it, but this version may provide a different perspective to that of the first, since the author was older at the time the events took place and she wrote them down as they happened.
Nevertheless, an overview of this second extract is given by Mr. Chappet, quoted above, who also summarized François’ arrest in his speech. “It was at dawn, around five o’clock in the morning, on March 17, 1944, that a Gestapo car, and I quote Noël Santon, “stopped in front of the pharmacy on Gambetta Street. François Moinet was arrested. Was this another tip-off? Nothing was found in his house. Down there, in her distant refuge, his wife has no idea of the misfortune that had just descended on her home. Chasja Moinet was indeed a refugee in Tarbes, at 12 Nansouty Street, where she too was arrested a few days later in June 1944, after being denounced. [Chasja Moinet was] transferred to the Jewish camp in Drancy, and she was deported by convoy 77 to Auschwitz on July 31, 1944, where she was murdered upon her arrival. François Moinet was deported to the Neuengamme camp in Germany, where he was last seen, close to death, on March 15, 1945, almost certainly suffering from typhus, which was rampant in that camp. Faced with the advance of Allied troops, the Nazis transferred all of the prisoners interned in the Neuengamme camp to the Bergen-Belsen extermination camp, where he died on the same date.”
There are still some unresolved questions, such as when the young Jacques was entrusted to his grandfather and by whom, and where François died, in Neuengamme or Bergen-Belsen.
V – The Resistance network: her husband’s involvement
During the Second World War, in Saint-Jean-d’Angély, there was an Organisation Civile et Militaire (Civil and Military Organization) Resistance network called “Navarre”. Georges Texier became its leader on May 4, 1943. Texier was born on February 11, 1907 at Arçay, in the Vienne department. He died on January 20, 1944 at Saint-Jean-d’Angély, killed by the Gestapo with a bullet through the heart. Chasja’s husband, François Moinet, was a member of the Resistance who belonged Texier’s group. He helped this group by allowing them to use his pharmacy as a mailbox.
VI – The deportation and death of Chasja Moinet
Chasja Moinet was deported after she was arrested following a tip-off or, more accurately, as it says in the documents concerning her case, she was “probably discovered as a result of gossip?”. In fact, Chasja Moinet was arrested on May 16, in Tarbes  in Doctor Maihle’s clinic. After that, she was sent to Toulouse, where she remained until June 15, 1944 (according to an extract from the death certificate register in the Saint-Jean-d’Angély town hall), the date on which she was put on a train to Drancy, the first stage of the journey towards her final destination, which was the death camp at Auschwitz.
It was on July 31, 1944 that Chasja Moinet’s fate was finally sealed. She was deported on Convoy 77, which departed from Drancy and terminated in Auschwitz (information sourced from a document requesting the granting of the title of political deportee). According to her granddaughter, Sabine Moinet, her grandmother was not “registered”, which means she was not given a prisoner number. This allows us to conclude that Chasja Moinet was killed in the gas chambers as soon as she arrived in Auschwitz.
VII – “Mort pour la France”
“Mort pour la France” is a legal expression in France. It refers to an honorable status awarded to people who died during a conflict, often in service of the country but sometimes for other reasons, such as having been deported [translator’s note].
We received a huge number of archived documents from the Convoy 77 association, most of which contain applications for the status of “Mort pour la France”. These requests were made after the war by Chasja’s father-in-law, Georges Gustave Moinet, a retired lieutenant colonel . He made all these requests so that his daughter-in-law would be granted the status of “Mort pour la France” and so that his grandson, Jacques Georges , He made all these requests so that his daughter-in-law would be granted the status of “Mort pour la France” and so that his grandson, Jacques Georges, would be able to gain access to his rightful inheritance. Georges Moinet specifically referred to the fact that Chasja was French by marriage  and that she was active in resistance in thought if not in deed. This claim to the status of “Mort pour la France” was made at the Saint-Jean d’Angély town hall and the request was granted by the civil court . Subsequently, a commemorative plaque would be produced and displayed in the town.
VIII – The town of Saint-Jean-d’Angély commemorates its citizens
Since 1977, one of the streets in Saint-Jean-d’Angély has been called “François et Chasta Moinet” (sic) as a tribute to and in honor of the deportee couple. The Town Hall decided to pay this tribute to them because they had lived in the town, ran a pharmacy on rue Gambetta and were involved with the Resistance. “In a decree dated 19 April 1996, the State has decided to add the words “Mort en deportation” [“died in deportation”] to the death certificates of François and Chasja Moinet. This deliberation is once again an opportunity for us to pay tribute to the men and women of Saint-Jean-d’Angély, the soldiers, resistance fighters and Jews who sacrificed their lives in this troubled period of our history, a troubled period that must never be repeated” . Following Sabine Moinet’s intervention, a decision by the municipal council on November 9, 2016 led to the correction of the spelling of “Chasta” to “Chasja”. On this occasion, the deputy Mayor, who we mentioned earlier, spoke about the couple’s background and history. The history of these “Angérians” is thus an integral part of the city of Saint-Jean d’Angély.
1- Portrait of Chasja Moinet (photograph provided by Sabine Moinet, her granddaughter)
2- Chasja Moinet with her son and her husband, François (photograph provided by Sabine Moinet, her granddaughter)
3- Chasja Moinet with her son Jacques, Sabine Moinet’s father (Source: https://www.sudouest.fr/2016/11/30/l-identite-retrouvee-de-chasja-moinet-2585076-1552.php)
4- Information form from the file requesting the status of “Mort pour la France” for Chasja Moinet, submitted by her father-in-law, Lieutenant-Colonel Georges Moinet 7337)
5- Chasja Moinet’s name (spelled “Hassia”) engraved on the wall at the Shoah Memorial in Paris.
6- Nameplate on the street dedicated to Chasja and François Moinet in Saint-Jean-d’Angély, in the Charente Maritime department of France. (screenshot taken from Google Street View)
7- A photograph of the present-day pharmacy that belonged to François Moinet (screenshot taken from Google Street View)
8- Commemorative plaque dedicated to Georges Texier and his Resistance network, the OCM, to which François Moinet also belonged. It was on this street that Georges Texier was shot dead. (Source : http://angely.over-blog.com/article-georges-texier-heros-de-la-resistance-tue-le-20-janvier-1944-43462600.html)
We would like to thank the following people for the information, archived documents and assistance that they provided:
– Madame Sabine Moinet, granddaughter of Chasja and François Moinet
– Madame Françoise Mesnard, employee of the town hall of Saint-Jean-d’Angély
– The Convoy 77 Association
– The Yad Vashem Memorial, in particular Eszter Stern
– The Sud-Ouest newspaper, in particular Philippe Bregowy
 Reference: doc 7330 in the Moinet archives
 Quotation from Dr Lapyre’s letter, doc 7366 in the Moinet archives
 http://www.memoresist.org/resistant/francois-moinet/ Les Amis de la Fondation de la Résistance
 Reference 7356 in the Moinet archives
 Reference 7330 in the Moinet archives
 Membership certificate of the French Interior Forces
 Reference 7356 in the Moinet archives
 Email from Chasja’s granddaughter, Sabine Moinet
 Reference 7346 in the Moinet archives
 Reference 7353 in the Moinet archives
 Reference 7347 in the Moinet archives
 Reference 7332 in the Moinet archives
 Reference 7335 in the Moinet archives
 Reference 7348 in the Moinet archives
 Reply from the Mayor of Saint Jean d’Angély, Françoise Mesnard, in a letter sent to us on Friday, February 8, 2019
The 10th grade class at the Lycée Français Prins Henrik in Copenhagen, Denmark, under the supervision of their teachers, Marine Lechat and Vincent Terrasson.
Intrigued by the conflicting information about Chasja’s arrest, I downloaded Noël Santon’s book, Saint-Jean sous la botte, subtitled Journal de l’Occupation 1940-1944, which unfortunately the students were unable to read in its entirety. In it, she mentions François and Chasja Moinet a number of times:
Firstly, in September1941, she says:
“The other evening, after Marshal Voroshilov’s appeal to the defenders of besieged Leningrad, the radio played the Song of the Departure, in Russian: “Oumieret za Rodinou…. “which Assia Moinet translated for us as: To die for the Fatherland…”
In May 1942 she writes:
“A German officer got out of a car and presented himself at the Moinet pharmacy: “I am”, he said, “delegated by the Commissariat for Jewish Affairs to seize the jewellery of your wife, who is Jewish”, – “My wife owns no jewellery”, replied François Moinet. “In that case, you must give me a deposit… 10,000 francs”. – “Prove to me that you really have a mandate! “retorted François Moinet. More discussion. The German, furious, got back into the car, making muted threats.”
The next mention of François is in 1943:
“Almost every evening, around six o’clock, Gaullists come to the Moinet’s pharmacy to chat for a while, warming up around the stove. Among them, the energetic figure of Georges Texier, in his white raincoat…. François Moinet’s inexhaustible good humour, always sparkling, always joking, animates the conversations in which, through the news of the war and anecdotes, an invincible hope shines through. Perhaps too carefree a hope for the customers, well-known or lesser-known, who enter the pharmacy, eyes on the lookout, ears to the ground…
During one late gathering at François Moinet’s house, some of these Gaullists recalled old French songs. And, even though just thin a wall separated them from the Germans installed in the neighbouring house, one of them sat down at the piano to accompany the voices that sang passionately: “We will take back Alsace and Lorraine!”
In January 1944, we come to the part about Chasja’s arrest, as discussed by the students:
“Even more arrests in the neighborhood. The murder of Georges Texier seems to be the prelude to a new “police operation”. Now comes the roundup of the Jews.
On 29 January, at around 8 p.m., the French police went to the Moinet pharmacy to arrest the young wife. François Moinet, who claims to have no idea where his wife has gone, was taken to the police station and released after an hour on the condition that he would not leave the town.
(Only their close friends know that Assia Moinet was informed the day before, by a police officer, about the order to arrest the Jews which had arrived at the police station. One of their friends, J.T., accompanied her across the demarcation line to take refuge in the unoccupied zone).
Was it a premonition? A few days earlier, sitting on the bed of her little boy, whom her husband had just taken to Paris to stay with friends, she sobbed: “I sense that I will never see my son again…”
Noël Santon then goes on to describe what happened in Saint Jean d’Angély the following day:
“The next day, January 30, we learned that all the Jews in the area had been arrested. On the Town Hall Square we could see them gathering and boarding a bus. Among them, it is said, was Dr. Benito Mendès d’Asnières, 75 years old, a retired lieutenant-colonel and the Zerdoum family, three children, the wife and husband mutilated during the First World War, refugees who came to Aulnay in 1939…
Poor people, they are well aware of the terrible fate that awaits Jews! Those who witnessed their departure, their farewells to neighbors and friends, say it was a heartbreaking sight.”
In this final extract, in March 1945, François and Chasja Monet are mentioned for the last time:
“Another wave of arrests. During the night of March 11, that of the André Aubry, a native of Saint-Jean d’Angély, a police officer. On the 15th, that of Jean Hayet, a teacher in Saint-Mandé. On the morning of the 17th, feelings were running high throughout St-Jean: at dawn, around 5 a.m., a Gestapo car stopped in front of the pharmacy on rue Gambetta and François Moinet was arrested! Was this yet another tip-off? Nothing was found during the search …. And there, in her distant refuge, his wife had no idea of the calamity that had just befallen her home….”