Marguerite Quddus was born December 4, 1936 in Paris, France. Her parents had fled Russia at the time of the revolution in order to escape the pogroms that were devastating Russian Jews. Her grandfather, Rabbi Shlomo Eliashev, was a well known kabbalist, and he made his way to Palestine with some family members, while Marguerite’s father made his way to Lithuania before deciding to go to France, where he settled and began a family, raising Marguerite and her older sister. He became a furrier, and the family was doing well as the clouds of war began to gather again. Once the occupation began, the family had to deal with mounting restrictions: the girls were told they had to go to a Jewish school, and they found themselves barred from parks and pools, and grocery shopping was restricted too. Then her father was arrested, and he ended up being deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau on the first convoy of French Jews. Marguerite’s mother knew that they had to go into hiding. They were able to contact the OSE, an organization that helped to hide Jewish children, and they arranged to have Marguerite and her sister to go to a number of convents and a farm – a total of six places in the next few years. Marguerite recalls that she learned to lie; it in fact became a survival mechanism as they lived in fear of denunciation by a neighbour or someone in the community. Liberation came for Marguerite with the arrival of American soldiers. Life would be difficult for some time though; reconnecting with her mother was not an easy experience, and it took Marguerite a long time to accept her father’s murder. Like so many survivors, Marguerite kept her story inside for many years, but she eventually wanted to see where she came from. She visited Paris, and when she saw her old family home in disrepair, she decided to write her story, but when she found that process difficult her son suggested that she draw it, and Marguerite created a remarkable set of drawings that depict those key wartime moments. She has documented her story for the Azrieli Foundation and the Montreal Holocaust Museum, and Crestwood students were privileged to conduct a zoom interview with her in March 2023.
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