Father Raymond Vancourt & Mademoiselle Raymonde Lombard

The onset of the Nazi era in 1933 spelled doom for German Jews.  Some left immediately seeking shelter in other European nations and beyond.  A few individuals believed that Hitler’s rise spelled doom for the Jewish people immediately.  Among  them was 12 year old Irene Kahn who left her Mannheim family against their wishes to study and work with relatives in Lille, France.

After the outbreak of World War II, Irene fled from Lille.  Together with her aunt, uncle and cousins (the Ehrlich family), they traded bread for shelter.  Irene returned to Lille but on September 11, 1943, gendarmes armed with lists of Jews in Lille came to arrest her.  Warned by a neighbor, Irene searched for a hiding place.  She was taken to the residence of Father Raymond Vancourt where she lived with a member of his family, Mademoiselle Raymonde Lombard.  Other Jewish children found shelter there as well.  During her stay with with Father Vancourt, Irene concealed her Jewish identity by pretending to be a Catholic.  She felt “unselfed"” as did many Jewish children in similar situations.