The german occupation

For Jews in Occupied France, survival was a matter of luck

Late in his life, I asked my uncle René about his exploits in wartime France. What I knew was that my family left Paris in 1940, around the time a great-uncle was shot dead in the street by a German army officer. They headed south to the Mediterranean, where my two uncles organised a network of safe homes for fugitives to lie low in until they could be smuggled out. When I asked for details, René clammed up. ‘Those were terrible times,’ he muttered, ‘not worth remembering.’ The Guardian writer Hadley Freeman was more successful in tracing her uncles’ activities in France, set off on her trail by a shoebox