On May 1940, German forced invaded France; by June 14th German troops successfully marched into Paris. The French government did not give into exile but rather signed an armistice agreement that allowed Germans to divide France into two parts: occupied zones and unoccupied zones. The French government was located in Vichy, France; leaders were subordinate to the German’s rule. Between September 1940 and June 1942, the German occupation of France caused the Vichy Government to pass many Anti- Jewish laws: including expanding the category of who is a Jew, forbidding free negotiation of Jewish-owned capital, confiscating radios in Jewish possession, executing and deporting Jewish members of the resistance movement, establishing a curfew, forbidding a change of residence, ordering all Jews to wear a yellow badge ( Star of David) and prohibiting access to public area. The role of the Vichy government during occupation left a lingering feeling of disloyalty of the government for the citizens of France.
Frida Scheps was a Russian-Jewish immigrant living in France. Her father was an Engineer who fled to Palestine to pave the way for Frida and her mother. Frida mentions in her testimony that a young sixteen year old boy, Adolphe tried to help them get their documentation; proven difficult because of increase of demand. Frida and her mother could not escape France prior to German’s occupation. Stuck in France, Ms. Scheps wanted to protect her child’s life by placing her in a Catholic covenant, Chateau de Beaujeu. Persecution of the Jews of France began in 1940, but by 1942, the Germans began rounding up Jews and shipping them to various death camps in Poland. An estimated 300,000 Jews lived in France prior to the invasion, between 1942 and July 1944, nearly 76,000 Jews were deported to concentration camps. Frida Scheps spent three years hidden away from predators, as her Jewish heritage slowly diminished away.
The beginning of A Hidden Childhood, Frida clings to a doll as her mother rushes them both to the train. Frida describes herself as a real French girl with a German name, she speaks without an accent. The author acknowledges, “They say my name is German. But if the Germans question me they’ll soon see that I’m really French”. The opening of the testimony bears some confusion to what Frida indentifies with. Frida reluctantly defines herself as a Jew, she states:
“I’m the first to say I don’t like Jews, and everyone repeats it after me. Inside myself I feel uneasy. At home I’m Jewish. But in the street I could be French”.
This particular quote from Frida establishes the tone for the rest of the testimony. Frida was only six years of age when she was sent to live at Chateau de Beaujeu; she was previously preconditioned to being able to falsely indentify herself as French. In the book, Frida mentions that her mother constantly sent packages that urged Frida to remember her Jewish heritage, however; during the beginning stages of her stay...