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“What’s That?” Wednesday-Week 9

This photograph of the Kann family was taken in the Gurs concentration camp. Renee Kann Silver is pictured on the far right, and her sister, Edith, is second from the left in the bottom row.

Renee Kann Silver was born in Saarland in 1931, which at the time was an independent state located between France and German as a result of the Treaty of Versailles. When Saarland rejoined Germany during Renee’s childhood, the family moved to France.

The Kann family was arrested in 1940 and interned in the Gurs concentration camp as French fears and discrimination towards foreign-born people heightened. Renee and her family were arrested because they were considered Germans, rather than Jews, and were later released from the camp. When Renee and her sister were taken to Le Chambon to be hidden with a Protestant family, Renee assumed that the trip would be a vacation. Later she learned that she was truly being hidden because more and more Jews were being rounded up and sent to concentration camps in Occupied Poland.

Eventually she was reunited with the rest of her family and fled to Switzerland by foot. At the end of the war, the Kann family returned to their town in France and emigrated to New York on July 17th, 1947.