Sabine and Miron Zlatin
Born on 13th January 1907 in Warsaw (Poland), Sabine Chwast was the last of 12 children. Her father was an architect. In the mid-1920s, she decided to leave her country of birth because she could no longer stand a stifling home environment and anti-Semitism. She travelled to Dantzig, Köenigsburg, Berlin, Brussels in succession and, around 1925, she arrived in Nancy, France, where she studied history of art. She met a young Jewish student from Russia, Miron Zlatin. Born in 1904 in Orcha to a family of means, Miron was studying for a higher diploma in agronomy at Nancy University. Miron and Sabine were married in Warsaw on the 8th October 1928.
They bought a poultry farm at Landas in Northern France in 1929. The farm proved a success after a few difficulties. They both acquired French nationality on 26th July 1939.
War broke out in September 1939. Sabine Zlatin decided to take a military nursing course at the Red Cross in Lille. Co Confronted by the German army advance in May 1940, the couple took refuge in Montpellier. Here, Sabine Zlatin worked as a Red Cross nurse at the military hospital in Lauwe. Dismissed under the anti-Semitic laws, she then joined the “Œuvre de Secours aux Enfants” (OSE). Miron and Sabine’s subsequent working life led them to Izieu in the Ain Department of South-East France.
After the 6th April 1944 raid on the Izieu home, Sabine Zlatin went to Paris, where she joined the Resistance.
After the Liberation of France, she was appointed head of the accommodation department at the Lutétia refugee centre, where she organised the return and reception of deported persons. In July 1945, Sabine Zlatin learnt that her husband and the children from the Izieu home would never return from deportation.
Following the closure of the Lutétia refugee centre in September 1945, she established her permanent home in Paris. She became a painter, signing her pictures with the name of Yanka, and concurrently worked as a bookseller specialising in the performing arts.
From 1945 onwards, Sabine Zlatin never ceased preserving the memory of the Izieu raid. She was a witness at the Barbie trial and a key person in designing the Izieu memorial inaugurated in April 1994.
Georgy Halpern was one of the Izieu children, of whom many letters and drawings were conserved. His letters to his parents provide invaluable information on daily life at the home.
Georges Halpern, called Georgy, was born in Vienna, Austria on 30th October 1935. He was the only son of Julius Halpern, a Polish dentist, and Séraphine Friedmann.
After 13th March 1938, when Austria was annexed to the 3rd Reich, 60,000 Austrian Jews found refuge in France. The Halpern family members were among these refugees.
Documents found in the Ain Departmental Archives reveal that Séraphine Halpern arrived in France on 1st January 1939.
At the outbreak of war, German and Austrian Jewish refugees in France were interned by the authorities of the French 3rd Republic as “nationals from enemy countries”.
Séraphine, who was sick, was sent to Saint-Louis hospital in Perpignan, then to the Espérance sanatorium in Hauteville (Ain); Julius was among tens of thousands of foreigners assigned to foreign worker groups or “Groupements de Travailleurs Etrangers” (GTE).
The Rivesaltes camp registers show that Julius, Séraphine and Georgy Halpern were interned there. Julius’ record indicates that he entered the camp on 2nd October 1942 and was assigned to Hut 24 in Block K. No such date appears on Séraphine’s record.
Georgy was handed over to the OSE and was taken in by a succession of homes supported by this humanitarian organisation. His name features in the 1940 list of children at the Château de Chaumont children’s home in Mainsat (Creuse Department). Later, he stayed at the Château du Masgelier in the same Department, from where he wrote to his mother on 31st July 1942.
According to Rivesaltes internment camp records, Georgy was interned there on 4th October 1942, two days after his father, and was released on 9th October 1942.
Early in April 1943, he was transferred from the Campestre home in Lodève (Hérault Department) to Montpellier, from where he was directed to the Izieu home (Ain).
Georgy probably arrived at Izieu on 18th May 1943 since he is recorded in Miron Zlatin’s register as present 14 days of that month. He was among the first children received by the home.
At the start of school in October 1943, Georgy joined the primary school children in Gabrielle Perrier’s class.
During his stay at Izieu, Georgy was in contact with his parents from whom he received regular letters and parcels. He answered them, enclosing drawings with his letters. His letters provide a description of daily life at the home, the meals, and the class activities.
Taken in the 6th April 1944 raid along with the other children and adults at the home, Georgy Halpern was deported from Drancy in rail convoy 71 on 13th April 1944 and was murdered at Auschwitz.
When France was liberated, Georgy’s parents, who had survived, searched for their son. In 1948, an administrative document confirmed Georgy’s death on 18th April at Auschwitz. Julius and Séraphine Halpern could not believe he was dead. Right up until 1982, they had search announcements published in the press from Israel, where they had settled. In 1987, they were plaintiffs at the Klaus Barbie trial in Lyon. They both died in 1989.
Serge Klarsfeld has gathered together documents pertaining to Georgy – his letters and drawings, photographs showing him – and has entrusted them to the Imperial War Museum in London.