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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:                      MANUELA BORNSTEIN

INTERVIEWERS:               RUTH EINSTEIN

DATE:                                 JANUARY 3, 2001

LOCATION:                        ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Transcript (PDF)

BIOGRAPHY

Manuela Mendels Bornstein was born in Paris, France in 1933. She was the eldest of two daughters born to an assimilated, middle class family. Her father had extended family in the Netherlands and her mother’s family was in Germany. Following the German occupation of France, her family began to feel the effects of anti-Jewish measures. When roundups and deportations began in 1942, Manuela, her younger sister and parents fled to Vichy France with the help of the Resistance. They settled in a small village in southern France, where they remained throughout the war. In 1943, a brother was born. After the Allies liberated Paris in 1944, the family returned to their lives in the Paris suburbs. In 1960, Manuela immigrated to the United States, married, had two children. She eventually settled in Atlanta, Georgia, where she is active in sharing her experiences with school children.

Scope of Interview

Manuela introduces her family and explains how her parents met and moved to Paris, France, where she was born. She shares her early memories of life in Paris before and after Nazi occupation. Manuela describes her family’s flight across the demarcation zone to Vichy France with the help of the Resistance. She relates how her family settled in a tiny village and resumed a new life. She recalls how the villagers helped her father and her family avoid area roundups of Jews and Resistance members. Manuela discusses the birth of a younger brother in1943. She recounts how her family returned to Paris after its liberation and resumed their lives. Manuela details her sister’s engagement and move to the United States. She tells how she then immigrated to the United States in 1960, married and had two children before finally settling in Atlanta, Georgia. Manuela recounts how her grandmother died in Germany during the war and relates what happened to other family members during the Holocaust. She reflects on the kindness of the villagers and shares her experiences returning to the village as an adult. The interview closes with Manuela’s thoughts on the importance of family and sharing her experience with younger generations.

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