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“What’s that?” Wednesday-Week 10

Madeleine Kahn Dreyfus

Madeleine Kahn Dreyfus circa 1943.

Madeleine Dreyfus was born in 1909 into an atheist family of Jewish origins. In 1941, Dreyfus became a worker for the Œuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE), a French Jewish relief agency. She was responsible for rescuing Jewish children from arrest and detention in concentration camps by placing them in various homes and families.

Shown above, Dreyfus kept a notebook with the names of the children she had found shelter for. She often wrote their names, the name of the families sheltering them, and the things they requested for her to bring on her next visit. The names of the Kann sisters, Renee and Edith, can be seen in her notebook a she was responsible for finding the young girls refuge. Despite the danger, Dreyfus was in by keeping a notebook with such information, her notebook was never seized by Nazi authorities. Renee Kann Silver is one of the survivors featured in the “Conspiracy of Goodness” exhibit currently on display at the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center.

On November 23rd, 1943, Dreyfus was arrested and spent over two months in a Jewish women’s dormitory before being transferred to Drancy at the end of January 1944. At the end of May 1944, Dreyfus was sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where she was held until its liberation on April 15th, 1945.

The efforts of Madeleine Dreyfus through her work in the OSE helped save hundreds of children, including Renee and Edith Kann.