Huguette CHEMLA, 1931 – 1944
First of all, we would like to thank Mr. Richard Avizrat, who lives in Israel, for his valuable help and for the time he devoted to us as we tried to piece together the biographies of his family members (his grandmother, Zakia, and his uncles and aunts, Robert, Huguette, Gilbert and Georgette) who all perished in Auschwitz on August 5, 1944.
Next, we decided to continue this introduction with his interview and our feelings about this very moving conversation.
We felt, following Mr Avizrat’s call, when we learned that his mother had passed away, that he rarely talked about his family and had never asked. Mr. Avizrat had learned about what had happened in school.
Since he lives in Israel, he started his research, at the age of 50, at Yad Vashem (the Israeli Holocaust memorial). He traveled twice to Paris to see a cousin and once to Lyon to do further research. He searched for documents and found some photos at his parents’ home.
The staff at Lyon City Hall and Lyon Police helped him with his research. He thinks of the lives of his deported family as a jigsaw puzzle, and as each day passes there are fewer pieces left to find.
Since 2006 he has never stopped looking for more information about his family, and has read numerous books to help broaden his research.
Finally, taking into account the Covid restrictions, and with the help of the archived documents sent by Mr Serge Jacubert and Ms. Claire Podetti of the Convoy 77 association, whom we would also like to thank, we have done our best to pay tribute to this unfortunate family from Lyon, who had previously lived in Algeria. They left behind just one descendant: Louise Aouizrat, née Chemla, who has continued her research in order to have the status of her parents and siblings recognized. Her father, Moïse, was machine-gunned to death, and the others were deported. It is in part thanks to her tenacity that we now have a lasting tribute to the Chemla family.
A HISTORICAL JIGSAW PUZZLE
Huguette was born on January 21, 1931 in Constantine, in Algeria. She was the last of the children to be born in what was then a French colony.
The documents provided by Convoy 77 contain information about her arrest on July 8, 1944. She was arrested together with her mother and siblings during a roundup in Lyon at the home of another Jewish family, the Halimis, at 6 place de la Baleine, about fifteen minutes’ walk from where they were living at 12 rue de la Bombarde.
They also gave us information on the procedures that had to be followed in order to search for, confirm the status of and establish an individual identity record for people who were deported or reported missing during the Second World War.
This was what happened in the case of Huguette, who was reported missing by her aunt, Yasmina Mabitz, and later acknowledged to be a victim of war and a political deportee thanks to the efforts of her older sister Louise, who spent about twenty years undertaking the necessary administrative steps.
Thanks to Mr. Richard Avizrat, who is Louise’s son and therefore Huguette’s nephew, we were able to obtain Huguette’s identity card with a photo taken at the time and also a handwritten letter.
The letter, written to her aunt Julie on Saturday, November 4, 1940, asked for her news and that of another aunt (Esther) and two uncles (René and Bafallah?), included information about her father Moïse’s having come back from the war and announced that she and Robert had moved up a grade in school.
This terrible tragedy prevented this family, along with many other Jewish families, from living out their childhood and looking forward to a brighter future.
This is the reason that these biographical details are so important. We have a duty to remember and to pay tribute to all those who died, especially the children.
We would like to end the biographies of the Chemla family members, who were deported on Convoy 77, with a brief conclusion including some iconographic images produced by one of the students in our class and a video by Mr. Richard Avizrat, one of the family’s descendants.
This shameful and monstrous period of history has also prompted us to remain vigilant in the face of rising intolerance and discrimination.
Writing the Chemla family biographies has been a wake-up call for us, because it serves as a reminder that we all have families and that we could all have come from different backgrounds.
This should help to change attitudes and to encourage sharing, because as the singer Maxime le Forestier said: “[…] You don’t choose your family […] Being born somewhere, for the person being born – it’s always a matter of luck.
This research has made us aware of the duty to remember and our conversation with Mr. Avizrat has shown us that despite the hatred and violence, trees will always continue to blossom.
We wanted to pay tribute to the deported Chemla family with a more paradisiacal image than that portrayed the introduction and to show that thanks to Louise, the family lineage will continue.
Lastly, there is also a video, produced by Mr. Avizrat, to keep the memory of the family alive.