Personal journal of Jacques Berenholc, Departure from Clermont-Ferrand December 8, 1942, Departure from France December 10,1942
Saturday, January 16, 1943
Things aren't going well this morning. They made us leave the room to lead us into the corridors. There is another disinfection. It's very unpleasant! I'm supposed to leave and I'm waiting impatiently for my release. Around 2 p.m., Joaquin comes to tell me that my release slip is at the director's but he isn’t there yet to sign it. It would be really disagreeable to go to the disinfecting room before I leave, for my clothes would be completely ruined. Finally I arrange to go with the last persons. Just in case... Those who want to save their suits put them in my bag. I am loaded down like a donkey. [...]
Toward 5 p.m., someone comes to inform me that I am free and leads me out with many shouts of "venga," "come on." It's just enough time for me to say goodbye to friends. Papa and Victor are summoned to see Mama. At the prison office, I'm searched, my fingerprints are taken, I get my papers back, and I'm given my release slip.
When I saw Mama at the threshold of the door, we both burst into tears as we hugged each other.
Finally we left the place and caught the train that would take us to Caldas.
We got there around 6 p.m., and at the hotel all the women overwhelmed me with questions. Among them, I was very surprised to recognize Mlle. Henriette Weil, whom I have known since 1941. She slept in the same room as Mama, like the fiancée of Simon Gausfain’s fiancée, Mlle. Giselle Landesman.
After a good bath, I changed my clothes and ate. To eat at last with a real spoon on real plates and with a knife and fork.
After dinner, since two of the ladies were leaving the next day—one of whom, Mme. Pollock, was a friend of Mama—a young actress, a singer, gave a recital. She was wonderful and sang very well. She sang a song entitled, "Little Papa, when you come back." You can’t imagine how it depressed me.
Thursday, January 21, 1943
Today Mama went to Gerona with a friend, Mme Aloise. She came back with good news. She found a guarantor (M. Pagans) and Victor will get out tomorrow and Papa on Saturday or Monday.
[Thursday, January 28, 1943]
Barcelona is a very beautiful city. We have met a number of people here [...] There is a convoy of children that is getting ready to go to America. As we aren't yet sixteen years old, we can join it. But it's very hard, given that we have to get identity papers for Victor [...]
Wednesday, March 10, 1943
We have learned that we won't be leaving with the convoy of children of our age.
Victor was sick, and having seen a doctor, we learned that he had a liver that was too long and that his right lung is a little affected. He is following a dietary regime and his health is improving every day [...]
End of March 1943
We have decided to leave Spain and for this, Mama is trying to get the necessary visas. That is, a visa with a destination of Panama with transit through Colombia, but it lacks the transit through Venezuela. These visas are on one passport for all of us. To leave Spain, we have to have an exit visa, which Mama obtains on April 3, 1943 [...]
Beginning of April 1943
Now that we have all the visas for departure (except Venezuela), we will leave on April 5 [...] Mme Pagans will accompany us to Madrid and we are very happy about it [...]
Uncle Daniel, who has had no news about his family for a very long time, has learned that his children are at his brother Joseph’s in Paris and his wife is at Drancy. His brother is, however, counting on getting her out of there, but it is a difficult thing. There is hope, though, because he is rather influential and she is not on the list of deportable persons. This poor uncle is in a terrible state and our departure grieves him still more, but unfortunately we can't do anything for him. We have recommended him to all our friends and he will at least have moral support, which is very necessary for him [...]
[April 10, 1943]
[...] It's this evening at 5 p.m. that we leave for Vigo and there isn’t any way to find a taxi to go to the station, which is very far away (north). About 4:15 p.m., we take the subway and arrive at the station around 4:50 p.m., but on the platform, we see that neither Victor nor Dr. Eizen, who is supposed to bring our tickets, is there.1 We see Mme Pagans, her brother, and her sister-in-law, but we don’t have much time; at 4:57 p.m., Victor arrives with M. Eizen, who gives us the tickets, and we scarcely have time to jump on the train, which is already beginning to move.