Daily life

Living place

Daily life


Basic comfort


The house offered only limited comfort. The buildings were not in very good condition.
There was neither heating (apart from small stoves) nor running water.
Marie-Antoinette Cojean, secretary at the Sub-Prefecture in Belley, asked social organisations to provide the home with beds, blankets, tables and cooking utensils.
To ensure a food supply, Deputy Prefect Pierre-Marcel Wiltzer managed to acquire about 40 rationing cards. These were not enough to feed all the children. Miron Zlatin overcame the shortage of food by regularly going round the village and its surroundings on his bicycle and trailer. The Bilbor store in Brégnier-Cordon offered food items.


The children helped to prepare the meals. Together, they peeled vegetables on the terrace in the summer. Miron Zlatin had teenagers Théo and Paul cultivate a small garden to complement the food supply. They received pocket money for this.


The children washed at the large fountain in the summer.
In the winter, they washed in the hall of the house, where water was heated in a cauldron.


The games, bathing trips to the Rhône, walks and, above all, drawing periods punctuated life at the home prior to the teacher’s arrival in October 1943. In a letter to Sabine, Miron Zlatin announced that these children were “real paper eaters”, constantly asking for exercise books and crayons.


Every holiday was a chance to tighten their bonds: the children wished each other happy birthday and expressed their birthday wishes; at Christmas, they prepared sketches and made up a few costumes.


Whilst they made the premises their own, the suffering and anguish associated with separation and absence of their parents were ever present.


“Among the children, I especially remember Théo Reis, who was my age, because we shared a room in the attic. We slept on mattresses on the floor, we didn’t have proper beds. I remember Léa Feldblum. I especially remember her face at the time and that she was a bit of a mother to everyone, that she took great care of the little ones.
I recall that we ate fairly well. That I was never hungry at Izieu. We played during the daytime, we had fun, we sang, we went out for walks, things like that
Henry Alexander, who arrived at the home during the summer of 1943


“Once or twice during the summer, I remember bathing in the Rhône with Léon Reifman. We had to walk down for miles across the fields and, my God, he must have known places to go because the Rhone’s pretty dangerous in some places; there are holes, eddies. I suppose he must have checked all that very carefully because, in fact, nothing happened to us.
None of the helpers spoke German or even Yiddish and no one wanted to; they wanted us to speak French. That was good.”

Paul Niedermann, who also entered the home during the summer of 1943


“Every night, I went from one mattress to the next to tell the boys a story because they each had to have a story and not necessarily the same one! Under the window, there was Émile (Zuckerberg).
And I finished my round there because I had to coax Émile to sleep. He was a little fair-haired boy with blue eyes and he always wore blue clothes. He was sweet, adorable; but, my God, he was traumatized because he’d seen his parents arrested.”
Paulette Pallarés-Roche, assistant helper at the home during summer 1943


Establishing closer friendships, writing to the family


Some teenagers, like Paul, Théo or Henry, understood that they would never see their families again. The smallest children hoped they would.

As soon as they were in contact with someone in their family, they wrote letters, sent drawings. To describe their day-to-day life, express their needs and their hopes.


The teenagers exchanged photographs or dedicated portraits les adolescents échangent des photographies ou des portraits dédicacés. in remembrance of the time spent at the Izieu home or as a token of friendship. In the evening, often on the terrace, they would imagine the future together.


“Did we talk about our parents or out past lives, things like that? I know we spoke of the future, that we really needed hope. We spoke of a future, said we’d survive, marry, have families; but Théo and I knew that we would never see our families again, that it would be a miracle if we did.”
Henry Alexander, who arrived at the home during the summer of 1943