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Survivor Profiles: Marion Deichmann

The only thing I did remember was we were in danger. We were hunted like animals – wild animals – and our life was in danger but you can’t really have a conception of death when you are seven.

Marion Deichmann

Her Story:

Holocaust Survivor Marion Deichmann was born in Karlsrühe, Germany in November 1932, to Kurt and Alice Deichmann, just months before Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor on Jan. 30, 1933. They were a middle-class German Jewish family who could not imagine that all of continental Europe would capitulate and be occupied by the Nazis. When her father lost his job in 1934, the family moved to Luxembourg. Eventually, her mother and father would separate, and Marion’s father would flee Europe with his parents and escape to Brazil. Marion and her mother remained in Luxembourg, and by the time her mother decided that emigration might be necessary, it was too late to leave Europe.

Marion and her mother fled Luxembourg and managed to get to Brussels, where they found a truck driver to sneak them across the border into France, eventually joining Alice’s mother in Paris. When Marion was 9 years old, her mother was arrested in the Vel d’Hiv roundups, the mass arrests of Jews in Paris in July 1942. Alice was sent first to Drancy and then to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Marion never saw her again.

After her mother’s arrest, the French Resistance came to relocate Marion and what remained of her family. Marion was moved around, staying in homes with different families until a social worker connected Marion with the Parigny family in Normandy. Marion was treated well by the Parignys and felt like one of the family. When D-Day arrived, the family temporarily hid in the countryside to avoid the worst of the fighting and bombing. The Parigny family’s home and the café they owned were destroyed along with much of their village.

Once the war ended in France months later, Marion returned to Paris and reunited with her grandmother and uncle but learned that her mother had been murdered in Auschwitz. In 1947, the family immigrated to New York. Marion lived in the United States for many years, marrying and having children before returning to France. She stayed in contact with the Parigny family and still does to this day. In 2015, the Parigny family was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.

Marion returned to the United States in 2019 to be closer to her children and now lives in Chicago. Her book, Her Name Shall Remain Unforgotten, , is dedicated to her mother and is available in English, French, and German.

Marion’s virtual reality film, Letters from Drancy, can be seen in the Museum’s virtual reality gallery, The Journey Back: A VR Experience, beginning in October 2023.

Learn More:

Coffee with a survivor facebook live session Interview with 'The Update'

Photo credits: Andrew Brooke

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