WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Renée Wiener will speak in a session entitled "On Being Young and Jewish in Vichy France" on Thursday, March 31, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Wiener was forced to leave Vienna in 1938. Anschluss – the incorporation of Austria into Nazi Germany – had taken place in March. Violent anti-Semitism was on the rise. With her family, she fled to Belgium, then the South of France, where many Jewish refugees from Nazi occupied territories sought safety.
After the Nazi invasion and the formation of Vichy France, Wiener joined “l’armée juive de Nice” the Jewish Army of Nice, one of several aid organizations formed by the refugees.
She found places to hide Jewish children or helped them cross the border to Switzerland. She participated in acts of sabotage, helped with the transport of weaponry for resistance organizations. She was able to evade the periodic round-ups and deportations of Jews in Vichy. After the war, she returned to Belgium.
In 1947, she emigrated to the U.S. In 2010, at the consulate general of France in New York, she was awarded the Légion d’Honneur. Wiener will speak in French. Her ability to speak French without a foreign accent was an enormous help in World War II France.
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