Jeanne Feinstein née Fhal, remarried Virleux
Jeanne Virleux née Fhal is one of the 1,310 deportees of convoy 77 on July 31, 1944. She was deported under the name Jeanne Feinstein, the family name of her first husband.
This biography is based on research in the archives and the precious testimony filmed in 1996 when Jeanne Fhal Virleux was 75 years old.
Her life in Algeria
Jeanne Virleux was born on March 28, 1922 at Khenchela, near Constantine in Algeria. Her father, Joseph Fhal and her mother Esther, née Allouche, had seven children (4 boys and 3 girls). Jeanne has described her childhood as a happy one with loving parents and her brothers and sisters at Khenchela. For her “it was like paradise”. Her father was a musician and composer. He took part in receptions and religious celebrations. One of Jeanne’s brothers graduated from high school. As for Jeanne, while still attending school she enjoyed selling shoes (in a shop called the “Chat botté”, owned by a disfigured World War I veteran). It was a way of helping her mother. Memories of that happy childhood did not, however, prevent her recalling the anti-Jewish riots in Constantine. Jeanne remembers being shut in for a day by her father and kept from joining her mother.
Arrival in mainland France shortly before the start of World War II
In 1937 Esther, Jeanne’s mother, decided to go to France with the whole Fhal family to rejoin their son, a “submarine petty officer 3rd class”, who had been seriously injured in a work accident. After putting all their possessions up for sale, the entire family arrived in Marseille after a very trying voyage. Once settled in Paris, in a “little two-room flat” on the rue de Jouy in the 4th district, the family was cruelly afflicted by Esther’s death just two weeks after their arrival from a pulmonary congestion contracted during the trip .
One of Jeanne’s brothers moved into a house in Vincennes, but Joseph Fhal, the father, found it difficult to adjust to a way of life so different from Algeria. He chose to move to the Marais district with his children, living successively on the rue du Fauconnier, then the rue François Miron in the Saint Paul neighborhood, and finally on the quai des Célestins when Jeanne’s brothers started looking for work. Living close to the Jewish community was a way of renewing with certain things reminiscent of Algeria. Her father worked as a violinist and guitarist in cafés, notably for evening dances. Jeanne was hired as a waitress “at the Milk Bar near the Opera on the boulevard des Italiens”. She was 15-16 years old at the time.
The following year, 1938, she married Léon Feinstein according to Jewish tradition. Léon Feinstein, the son of Samuel, aka Émile, Feinstein and Adèle Jacobsohn, was a Frenchman of Polish origin born on November 24, 1912 in Paris’s 12th district, who worked as a laborer. Jeanne and Léon Feinstein settled on the rue des Gravilliers in the Paris neighborhood of the Arts et Métiers. Their daughter was born the year after their marriage. During that time young Jeanne Feinstein “was very happy” at home.
The Second World War and the Occupation
Jeanne no longer remembered, at least not in 1996, the declaration of war on September 3, 1939. The following year occurred the debacle of the French army and the occupation of the northern part of France; it was an “atrocious” time, according to Jeanne, when “we had no life”, “we hid ourselves”, and there was always fear.
The obligation for the Jews to be repertoried induced Jeanne to declare her identity “…at the time. It was a matter of pride and it had to be done”, she said in her testimony. After June 7, 1942 she wore the compulsory yellow star imposed by the Second Statute on the Jews. It was for that reason her boss dismissed her, even though she was a good salesgirl. According to Jeanne the Jews were aware of the risk of deportation. At the end of 1942 Jeanne left Paris.
The deportation of Jeanne’s husband
After 1942 Jeanne persuaded her husband to join her (?) sister Louise, who had gone to live in a hotel on the rue de la Solidarité in Marseille. But on a day in 1943 the Germans burst into the hotel, setting off panic among the residents. Many men were arrested, Léon Feinstein among them, and also Jeanne’s brother-in-law, Maurice Jaïs. Jeanne’s father, who also lived in that hotel with his second wife, eluded arrest because he spoke Arabic. Many North African Jews were saved thanks to their knowledge of Arabic and their name.
She related that a woman appeared with a good-bye note from her husband, saying she was a nurse assigned to the deportees. She told Jeanne she could see him, but that she must hide her money, her mother’s secret case, and her daughter, as the Germans might come back. Jeanne thus entrusted her daughter and everything she possessed to a neighbor woman before going off with the nurse. But the nurse was a crook who subsequently took all her property, supposedly to free Jeanne’s husband (after Jeanne had hidden in a café on the cours Belsunce).
Jeanne found the fake nurse and had her arrested by the police by calling for help. The woman’s father was a lawyer, who offered a sum of money to get Jeanne to drop charges and thus free his daughter. Jeanne accepted.
After her husband’s arrest Jeanne remained in Marseille a while before returning to Paris where she lived in a hotel, as the apartment where she and her husband had lived was sealed. She got along as best she could, having no savings since the theft of her possessions by the fake nurse in Marseille. She moonlighted by bicycle on the black market between Paris and Chartres, “under cover” (which meant without the yellow star). That is how she managed to “defend” herself, as she said. She also was aided by a charitable institution, the OSE at n° 36 rue Amelot, near the Bastille, which furnished her household linen. She was advised to place her daughter with a childminder. She went to visit her from time to time, but always “under cover”, i.e. without star or papers. At the time she knew nothing of what had become of her husband Léon.
Jeanne’s deportation: from her arrest to Auschwitz
In July 1944 Jeanne was living on the place du Marché Sainte-Catherine, making her living once again as a salesgirl. Selling was something Jeanne had always liked. On July 14 , 1944 Jeanne Feinstein was arrested by the Gestapo on a street near the police station of Paris’s 4th district. She was with a gentile, André Virleux, whom she was later to marry, and a Jewish friend named Victor Krieff. She was held for 48 hours at the police station.
They then decided to intern Jeanne at 2:00 p.m. on July 17, 1944 because she was Jewish. The next day, July 18, 1944 at 3:00 p.m. she was transferred to Drancy. She was deported on July 31st to Auschwitz-Birkenau. As it was for the other deportees, the journey was traumatic due to cramming and mortality. Upon arrival at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp Jeanne underwent the selection process. The German soldiers in charge had prisoners separate the deportees into two lines. They were bludgeoned, there was gunfire, and a great deal of screaming. Jeanne, who was 22, was put in the line on the left and selected for factory labor . Selection was followed by being shaved, disinfected, relieved of their personal affairs, and showered, before clothing was issued. Jeanne wore big wooden clogs, “a dress”, and a headscarf. She was assigned to block number 16. Like the Auschwitz deportees she suffered from hunger, and she recalled conversations in which they “ate orally”. Jeanne was not put into a special team, for she spoke neither German nor Polish.
As time went by camp life became ever more difficult and the prisoners were sorely tested. Roll call, effected by a woman the deportees called Blokoma, was particularly trying. She terrorized the prisoners and rounded up volunteers ? for work with fist and cudgel (schlague). Jeanne and ten others went off to work in a factory making airplane parts. There was no contact with the civilians or the workers, but the prisoners sent them bread. Il n’y avait pas de contact avec les civils ou les ouvriers mais les prisonniers leur envoyaient du pain. [Je ne pige pas.]
At Auschwitz Jeanne was able to “hold out” thanks to the solidarity among the deportees. News of the war sometimes reached the camp, including tracts that said the liberation would be soon, which Jeanne did not believe. She never saw the sky, but had the impression it was very low and very red.
After Auschwitz Jeanne was sent to the Theresienstadt camp not far from Prague in Czechoslovakia. All she wanted at that time was to die. One night a man came into the camp to announce that it would all be over the next day. Jeanne passed the message on to the other deportees, but many of the women took fright and may have committed suicide. There were no longer any Germans in the camp. She only learned afterwards what was happening.
When Jeanne was at Bergen-Belsen, life was even harder than at Auschwitz-Birkenau, for at Bergen-Belsen the deportees slept on the ground. Every morning the deportees had to bury those who had died from the miserable conditions. On February 7, 1945 Jeanne was transferred from Bergen-Belsen to Buchenwald/Raghun, where she arrived on February 10, 1945 43]. The work card found in the archives seems to indicate that she was again put to work at Buchenwald.
The liberation of the camps and the return of the deportees
When the Buchenwald camp was liberated, a man, no doubt with the Red Cross, offered to take her to Paris in a small plane. When she got to Lyon , her father, who had been informed of the arrival of deportees, was waiting for her. It was the Sabbath. She was interrogated, suspected of being an accomplice of the Germans, as she was wearing jewelry. Back in Paris she recovered her daughter, still with the childminder, at once. Jeanne had come home with an abscessed leg and a damaged liver because of the hunger and malnutrition undergone in the camps. On her return she told her family nothing of her terrible experience. She would speak of it later, occasionally, to her children.
After the war
After the war Jeanne went back to Algeria to visit her mother’s grave. One of her sons was born during the trip. She then returned to Paris and married André Virleux. In September of 1956 she obtained the status of political deportee.
Jeanne Virleux is inscribed under the name Jeanne Feinstein on the wall of the Shoah deportees of the Mémorial of the Shoah in Paris. In Serge Klarsfeld’s directory she is registered as Imouna Virleux, Imouna being a middle name.
Biography produced by Ayat Abdouli
Master 1 in Archive Science at theUniversité de Paris 8
(2017-2018) in the framework of the course Archives of the Shoah, under the direction of Professor Marie-Anne MATARD-BONUCCI working with Laurence Klejman and the Convoy 77 Association
-Archives of the Mémorial de la Shoah, Paris
File of the Seine (Paris) Police Préfecture and the Drancy camps: Drancy adult file F_9_56918FEINSTEIN JEANNE NEE FAHL.
Copy of the entries in the Drancy camp’s transfer files from July 6, 1944 to August 11, 1944.
Copy of Léon Feinstein’s transfer file to the Drancy camp (n°3. 105).
Fonds Judéo-Espagnol at Auschwitz J.E.A.A : Photos of Jeanne Virleux with her family in front of the hotel on the rue de Jouy in 1938 and at the universal exposition in 1937.
Video testimony by Jeanne Virleux, April 22, 1996, taken by Malka Markovitch for the association Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation.
Jeanne Feinstein’s notebook.
-Archives Nationales, site of Pierrefitte-sur-Seine
The ITS database (Bad-Arolsen): dossier on the Theresienstadt ghetto (sequence number 17347), dossier on the Bergen-Belsen camp (1950), dossier on the Buchenwald concentration camp (March 1, 1945), dossier on the Drancy camp.
-Archives of Paris
Civil status register 4M304_A, marriage license n°401 (4th district of Paris).
Civil status register 4M304_A, marriage license n°451 (4th district of Paris).
Civil Status, marriage license n°1528 (12th district of Paris).
-Archives of the Police Préfecture
Register CP June-December 1944 (call number CC2 item 9).
Register “Repertory of Israelites and Jewish enterprises” of Paris’s 3rd district compiled by the police prefect’s Office (ID16/ Folder 4, n°652).
-Town Hall of Paris’s 4th district
Extract from marriage license n°586.
– Historical Service of the Defense Ministry, Archives of the Victims of Contemporary Conflicts, Caen
Dossier on Jeanne Virleux, née Fhal’s request for the status of political deportee in September 1956
(notably including an individual record of Jeanne Virleux’s civil status, extracted from the minutes of Léon Feinstein’s death certificates)
-AGERON Charles-Robert, « Une émeute anti-juive à Constantine (août 1934), in the Revue de l’Occident musulman et de la Méditerranée, n°13-14, 1973.
– GRYNBERG Anne, La Shoah. L’impossible oubli, Paris, Découverte Gallimard, 1995.
-LALOUM Jean, « Des Juifs d’Afrique du Nord au Pletzl . Une présence méconnue et des épreuves oubliées (1920-1945) », in the Archives Juives, 2005/2 (Vol. 38), p. 47-83.
URL : https://www.cairn.info/revue-archives-juives-2005-2-page-47.htm
-LALOUM Jean, Les Juifs dans la banlieue parisienne des années 20 aux années 50, Paris, CNRS, 1998.
– LEWINSKA Pélagia, Vingt mois à Auschwitz, Paris, 1945.
-MARRUS Michaël and PAXTON Robert, Vichy et les Juifs, Paris, France Calmann-Lévy, 1981.
-PRESSAC Jean-Claude, Les crématoires d’Auschwitz. La machinerie du meurtre de masse, Paris, CNRS Editions, 1993.
 Information coming from the Police Préfecture’s Drancy Camp transfer file in the “CP register of July-December 1944”, preserved as a digitized copy at the Mémorial of the Shoah, and also from the “CP register of July-December 1944” (call number CC2, item 9) preserved in the archives of the Police Préfecture. This information is found in Bad Arolsen deposited in the National Archives.
 According to the individual record of Jeanne Virleux’s civil status (document from the dossier on Jeanne’s request for the status of political deportee, preserved in the archives of the Victims of Contemporary Conflicts (DAVCC) of the Historical Service of the Defense Ministry, located in Caen), and notably attested on her marriage license.
 The number of children is taken from Jeanne Virleux’s video testimony. According to the biographical notice in the archives of the Mémorial of the Shoah, Jeanne is the sister of Elie Touitou and Louise Jaïs. The first and last names of Jeanne’s mother come from the above-mentioned dossier requesting the status of political deportee for Jeanne Virleux.
 According to the video interview carried out on April 22, 1996 by Malka Markovitch for the association Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, consultable at the Mémorial de la Shoah.
 A large number of Algerian Jews left for metropolitan France after these riots.
MARRUS Michaël and PAXTON Robert, Vichy et les Juifs, France Calmann-Lévy, 1981.
AGERON Charles-Robert, « Une émeute anti-juive à Constantine (août 1934) », in the Revue de l’Occident musulman et de la Méditerranée, n°13-14, 1973. Twenty-three Jews, including some children, and four Muslims were killed, and there were seventy wounded.
 According to other family testimony the Fhals first resided in a hotel on the rue François Miron.
LALOUM Jean, « Des Juifs d’Afrique du Nord au Pletzl ? Une présence méconnue et des épreuves oubliées (1920-1945) », Archives Juives, 2005/2 (Vol. 38), p. 47-83.
URL : https://www.cairn.info/revue-archives-juives-2005-2-page-47.htm
There is a photo of Jeanne Virleux with her family in front of the hotel on the rue de Jouy in 1938 (Archives of the Mémorial de la Shoah, fonds Judéo-Espagnol at Auschwitz J.E.A.A.).
 According to Jeanne Virleux’s video testimony, and to LALOUM Jean, « Des Juifs d’Afrique du Nord au Pletzl ? Une présence méconnue et des épreuves oubliées (1920-1945) », Archives Juives, 2005/2 (Vol. 38), p. 47-83.
URL : https://www.cairn.info/revue-archives-juives-2005-2-page-47.htm
 According to Jeanne Virleux’s video testimony, and LALOUM, op. cit.
 According to Jeanne Virleux’s video testimony.
 Additionally, the license for their marriage (Archives of Paris, Civil Status, marriage license n°1528), performed by the deputy mayor of Paris’s 12th district, indicates that Léon married Jeanne Imouna Fhal on December 19, 1938 (when he was 26 and she was 16). Léon, a laborer, was the son of capmakers living on the rue de Fécamp in the 12th district of Paris. Jeanne, a salesgirl, lived on the rue du Fauconnier in Paris with her musician father.
 Information from Jeanne Virleux’s video testimony, confirmed by the Office of the Prefect of Police (register of the “Repertory of Israelites and Jewish enterprises”, ID16/ Folder 4, Archives of the Préfecture of Police), preserved in the archives of the Police Préfecture. Léon Feinstein was repertoried on October 9, 1940. They were living on the rue des Gravilliers with two other people (presumably Jeanne and their daughter). The father as head of household made the declaration for the whole family.
 In Jeanne Virleux’s video testimony she says that her daughter was born in 1938, but according to Jeanne Virleux’s dossier for the request for status as a political deportee, preserved in the archives of the DAVCC in Caen, her daughter was born in 1940.
 In her interview Jeanne says that her husband Léon was mobilized in England and then also that “he escaped or was taken prisoner”. Memory lapses must be allowed for, especially on such a painful chapter of her life.
 Transcription of Jeanne’s words from her testimony describing the start of the war.
While there is no trace in Jeanne’s memory of the Germans’ arrival in Paris, they are still constantly present in her memories.
 A roundup notably took place on the Vieux-Port de Marseille: the major roundup tagged “Operation Sultan” by the Germans. It was carried out in the different neighborhoods from January 22 to 24, 1943. As for Léon Feinstein, he was taken in the roundup designated “of the Opera”. The victims arrived at Compiègne’s Royallieu Camp, where they stayed for two months before deportation to Sobibor in Poland.
“10,000 French policemen and several thousand German police officers were concentrated in Marseille to displace 22,000 inhabitants elsewhere so as to raze the Vieux-Port quarter” MARRUS Michaël and PAXTON Robert, Vichy et les Juifs, France Calmann-Lévy, 1981, p283.
 Jeanne Virleux’s video testimony.
 Archives of Paris, Civil Status, registry 4M304_A, marriage license n°451.
 The marriage registries of Paris’s 4th district prove that Joseph Fhal, Jeanne’s father, remarried: Joseph Fahl widower, cobbler, marries the widow Louise Ghronassia on October 8, 1940. (Archives of Paris, Civil Status registry 4M304_A, marriage license n°401).
 Other examples are given by LALOUM, op. cit.
 According to Jeanne Virleux’s video testimony. In her interview she admits that at that age she could not realize the consequences that could ensue.
 The OSE, an association of Assistance to Children, aided many Jews during World War II. This association is still active. There existed other organisms for sheltering children, such as the Central Commission for Childhood (CCE) and the Jewish Union for Resistance and Mutual Aid (UJRE). The General Union of the Israelites of France (UGIF) was a structure set up by the Germans and the French administration to monitor the Jewish population. All Jews had to pay dues.
LALOUM Jean, Les Juifs dans la banlieue parisienne des années 20 aux années 50, Paris, CNRS, 1998, p. 318.
 Jeanne’s daughter survived thanks to being placed with a childminder. She was one of the hidden children.
 In her testimony Jeanne relates that her brother-in-law Maurice had escaped from the train and told her the Germans had certainly killed Léon. But according to the dossier for Jeanne Virleux’s request for the status of political deportee preserved in the DAVCC archives in Caen and the archives of the Drancy Camp preserved at the Mémorial of the Shoah, Léon was at Auschwitz-Birkenau until his death in September of 1943.
 She worked as a salesgirl. It was her profession before 1942. We have no information on the exact address of her workplace. Moreover, no despoliation dossier is found in the National Archives’ series AJ38. We deduce that Jeanne was not despoiled.
In Jeanne Virleux’s dossier requesting the status of political deportee preserved in the DAVCC archives in Caen, the period of internment taken into account is from the 14th to the 30th of July, 1944.
Jeanne Virleux’s dossier requesting the status of political deportee preserved in the DAVCC archives in Caen.
In the documents from 1954 to 1956 in Jeanne Virleux’s above-mentioned dossier requesting the status of political deportee.
“With a son of the most important lawyer in Paris” says Jeanne in her video testimony, with no further precision.
She was attributed number 12571 s. The orders of admission, designated “s.d aff. Juives” i.e. Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service) for Jewish affairs.
Note that the person with the following number has the same information as Jeanne, but that the authorities delivering the admission orders are different. They were thus prisoners together. Notons que la personne qui porte le numéro suivant à les mêmes informations que Jeanne. [Je ne suis pas. Je pense que l’accent grave sur à est surement une erreur, mais je ne comprends toujours pas bien.]
Jeanne arrived at Drancy on July 18, 1944, according to the notebook preserved at the Mémorial of the Shoah.
“CP Register of July-December 1944”, preserved at the Police Préfecture, (CC2, item 9).
In a document preserved in the Bad Arolsen database (National Archives; August 25, 1949) it is noted that Jeanne was transferred from the CC/Prison at Auschwitz on July 31, 1944. It is also stated in the same document that her last residence was on the Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine in the 3rd district of Paris. (The two documents from the Drancy camp preserved at Bad Arolsen and deposited in the French National Archives and dated January 28, 1957 and December 22, 1959 indicate the same address).
In Drancy’s transfer file of the Mémorial of the Shoah Jeanne is said to be of French nationality (Constantine), a salesgirl, residing in Paris’s 4th district on the Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine.
In her testimony Jeanne recounts that she didn’t really know what was going on and told the prisoner who selected her for the line on the left that led to the factory that she wanted to sing and tap dance, activities she really loved.
Cela fait rire certains et pleurer d’autres [certaines ?] In Jeanne’s above-mentioned testimony this caused some to laugh and others to cry, as it dehumanized them and stripped them of their femininity. It is stated in the testimony of Madame LEWINSKA P., Vingt mois à Auschwitz, Paris, 1945 that the laughter was also because of the woman shaving them. [Tout cela n’a pas beaucoup de sens…]
Translation of « Haeftlings ». GRYNBERG Anne, La Shoah. L’impossible oubli, Paris, Découverte Gallimard, 1995, p.113.
At that moment a number was tattooed on their arm. They were thereafter addressed only by this I.D. number. GRYNBERG Anne, op. cit.
The blocks were huts in which the deportees slept.
Among Jeanne’s memories Parmi les souvenirs de Jeanne, il y a les deux blocs d’anthracite avec lesquels on les tirait en arrière dans le camp. Le jour où elle a vu un bloc avec une charrette et une personne pendue, son moral a changé. [comprends rien, ni ce que la note a à avoir avec texte annoté.]
From the German word schlagen, to strike, beat.
According to Jeanne Virleux’s video testimony.
According to the Theresienstadt ghetto file preserved in the Bad Arolsen database (National Archives), Jeanne Feinstein was of the Jewish religion with sequence number ?? 17347. Two other people in this ghetto had the same name as Jeanne, but they were in no way related to either Jeanne or Léon Feinstein.
According to three documents of June 26, 1950 and January 17, 1950 from the postwar files of the Bergen-Belsen camp, preserved in the Bad Arolsen database in the National Archives.
The prisoner number (Häflting Nummer) attributed to Jeanne was 47130.
In the documents of March 21, 1945 from the Buchenwald concentration camp preserved at Bad Arolsen and deposited in the National Archives.
On April 11, 1945 the Buchenwald concentration camp was liberated “by the Third American Army under General George S. Patton.” PRESSAC Jean-Claude, Les crématoires d’Auschwitz. La machinerie du meurtre de masse, Paris, CNRS Editions, 1993, page 123.
According to Jeanne’s testimony and her above-mentioned dossier requesting the status of political deportee, in which it is written that after her liberation by the Allied advance Jeanne was repatriated into Lyon in June1945.
The Sabbath is a holy day in the Jewish religion, lasting from Friday evening at dark to Saturday night.
According to Jeanne Virleux’s video testimony.
Jeanne Virleux composed a song about what she lived through during deportation. She is shown singing it in her above-mentioned testimony.
According to Jeanne Virleux’s video testimony.
Town Hall of Paris’s 4th district, extract of marriage license n°586,
According to Jeanne’s dossier requesting the status of political deportee preserved in the DAVCC archives in Caen.
According to the individual record of Jeanne Virleux’s civil status ( document taken from Jeanne’s dossier requesting the status of political deportee preserved in the DAVCC archives in Caen) and her marriage license preserved in the Paris Archives.