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Compositions by Raymonde Fiol, 2012







Biography, essay and poem written and compiled by Raymonde Fiol, titled Pieces of My Life.

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jhp000599. Holocaust Survivors Group of Southern Nevada Records, 1965, 1972, 1999-2016. MS-00741. Special Collections, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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Pieces of My Life Compositions By Raymonde Fiol nee Nathansohn Raymonde BIO Raymonde Fiol, nee Nathansohn, born in Paris, France in 1936, to loving parents David and Esther Nathansohn. David was a skilled leather craftsman and Esther was a seamstress. In 1939, war broke out and her father was taken during the Val D'Hiver raid and sent to a labor camp. Later offered a promise of work in the Village of Bulson, a German-run farm in the Ardennes and thinking they were free to come and go he transported his wife and child to join him. It was a ruse; the farm was just another labor camp and they were trapped. Raymonde became very sick and her parents intuitively plotted for her escape. Prior to their being transported to Auschwitz; David and Esther secured the Cailacs, a Christian family, to smuggle their beloved only child to safety. Raymonde stayed with Cailacs in the Village of La Bagnolle until the end of the war. Claimed, after the war, by her Uncle Gabriel, Ray spent each school year in Paris and holidays in London with Uncle Leon's family. After attending college in London for two years, Ray returned to Paris at eighteen where she met her husband Phillip. Married for fifty-six years, a mother of two children - a boy and a girl; Ray and Phillip built a life. Establishing themselves first in New York where she worked in the Import-Export business until her children were born, then later in Florida until her children made homes in the west. Too far from their children, they moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. In 1969, as part-time antiquarian clerk for a book dealer, she began to discover some of her family history. As the only survivor on her Mother's side and her Uncle Gabriel never speaking of the Holocaust events - Raymonde was left to try to put together the fractured pieces of her family's life. In 2007, Ray received a phone call from Christine Dollard-Leplond, a teacher in France, who took it upon herself to find the survivors of the German labor camps in the Ardennes. The words "I've found you", have made all the difference and now Raymonde actively seeks out opportunities to share her stories. Currently, the president of the Holocaust Survivor's Group in Las Vegas, Raymonde diligently works connecting other survivors in a mission to help and maintain Holocaust education in the State of Nevada My Name - My Identity Raymonde Fiol, Nee Nathansohn 1936- My real name is Raymonde Na tans on. I was born in Paris, France, of Polish Jewish parents, and somehow, when my father arrived in France through Germany, the spelling was changed to Nathansohn. So our name was slightly different from the rest of the family, as it so often happened with immigrant families. Then came WWII. My parents and I were lured from Paris, where we lived, to the Ardennes region of France and displaced in a labor camp where we were forced to work the land to raise crops that would feed the Nazis. I was five to seven years old. It soon became clear to my parents that the outcome of our situation would not be a good one. Entire families were disappearing overnight, never to be seen again, and the Polish workers who were brought in to replace the missing Jewish workers were warning the Jewish workers that there were camps in Poland where the Nazis were exterminating the Jews. My parents begged a local Frenchman, who was supplying the Nazis with agricultural products necessary for farming, to take me and save my life. The man agreed. I was smuggled out of the camp in his truck and he and his wife took me into their home in a nearby village. Gabriel, Sara, and their teenage daughter Evelyne, supported the French Resistance and were supplying the French Maquis with food and supplies under the cover of night. Upon arrival to the Cailacs' village, they were obliged to register me with the local German commandant. There was no way they could physically hide me because Sara Cailac ran a cafe frequented by the Germans. The profits from the cafe paid for the French resistance supplies. The story told in the village was that I was their niece from Paris and that they took me in because of the lack of food in the French capital. But....they forgot to coach me. When they brought me into the village commandant's office to register my name. He invited us to sit down and he asked me for my name, and I promptly replied Raymonde Nathansohn! With a name like this, I was obviously Jewish! As soon as I had said my name, I could see the blood drain from Gabriel and Sara's faces. I can still see their pale faces and I will remember it to the end of my days. That was the end! We were about to be shot! / knew / had done something wrong, but what? Turns out the commandant let it go. Later I was told that I looked like his daughter and that we were about the same age. My parents' intuition, with the Cailac's help saved my life. We survived the War; they did not and perished in the ovens of Auschwitz. After the war, because the Commandant recorded my 'real' name, the surviving members of my Natanson family were able to find me. They came to the Ardennes to take me away from the Cailacs. Displaced; again. Did I want to leave? NO! - but, by law, I belonged to the Natansons. The German commandant never saw his little girl either. At the liberation of France, Along with all the remaining Germans, he was shot dead by the French Maquis. Nobody WOD... Remember the Matryoshka Dolls Raymonde Fiol, nee Nathansohn Vicki asked me to draw t he Tar is apartment where 1 fived with my parents when 1 was a fittfe chifd. That was before WW/11, and surprising fy, 1 was af>(e to recaff the fayout. 'At our fast writer's workshop, Vicki suggested 1 wafk through the apartment and teff her what 1 remembered. 1 recaffed the kitchen window where 1 used to fook out into the inner courtyard, and where 1 dropped the green bracefet my mother had given me. It fanded on toy of an overharig just befow, out of my reach and never to he retrieved. 1 was heartbroken... Vicki probed with another question: "Can you remember your favorite toy?" 'My first response was 'bfo, but suddenfy it came to me. TCES 1 DO, they were the 'Matryosfika doffs that my father had given me. 1 remember that we were both seated on the ffoor as 1 opened the package wrapped in newspaper. 1 was hofding a farge wooden do ft decorated in bright cofors. My father showed me how to twist the doff and it opened and to my surprise there was another doff inside sfightly smaffer, but just as beautifuffy decorated. We repeated the exercise and with each twist another beautifuf doff appeared, a fittfe smafler, and then another..perhaps five in totaf. 1 remember the smife on my father's face and I'm not sure who was enjoying it more, me and my giggfes, or my father's joy in watching me. Thank you Vickifor hefping me unfock a beautifuf memory. Where; I'm/ from/.. I am/from/c^yunri^ phone/call beg^nntn^in/fnglUh/ and/ending^in/french/ ("I\e/been looking^ for you/') began my queyt fronv vnybteriey uncovered/ and/ a/ past restored/ I am/fronv the/ chosen/ from/ intellectuals, frugal/, an endar Unpeople/ I am; from/ ynapihcrty of a/past toxy-pairvfu^ from/loved/and/lost, adopted/and/foytered/, andy f i n a l l y claimed/ I am/from/the/NaA:hanyony, Warwuv Poles, who-outran th&N a^isto-Pcoriy from/ a/ home/ where/1 was happy, yafe/ and/ loved/ a/^lami/hanging in/the/ window not quite/ ripe/ a/ dropped/ treasured/ bracelet of green, visible/, yet out of reach/ from/bright, beautiful, colorfulMatryoyhka/dolly daughter and/ daddy sharing unbridled<joy Whiyperyof"RcK>cheJ&' (Yiddish for Rachel) Tender endearmenty given by a/ father I am/from/ dew-knew, blank/ memories - IonelOnesy from/a/lahor camp in the/ Ardennes ytarvaticm, ^ichnesy, despair hidden amongst the/ peaceful h i l l y . Separated/from/ vny parentyto- yx\/e/ my life/ -I survived/ They were/ytoienby Aubchwity and/ neA/er returned/ I am/ from/ adoption by "the/ rightecrus ones', the/ Cailacy from/p One/ trees and/ Lily of the/Valley Withinthe/thi&woxyxly of the/Ardently WheresI ranbarefoot inthe/ra^in, wasyurprUed/by a/boar and/ from/ mashroxym/ ymelly released/ by the/ damp I am/ from/ ^ecrety provided/ by the/ french Remittance/ Haloing^ apple/ tartey by the/ dozens and/ chicken youp The/ ttny harvester of fresh vegetables for dinner from/ ymelly of leather and/ glue/ I awvfromthe/becretywithinci/Biytro from a/ beM)iv\fy machCrie- housed/ above/ where/ bhifty of soldiery moved/ to and fro below firyt they were/ Germany then the/ L Lberatory I am/ from/ vullage/townhalichech-iny Soundy of A chtung^! Periodically bursting- from the/ radio-from/" What?yyour name/?", a/ desk/ of power, a/ man in uniform/ U nprepcwed/ - fyaA/e/ the/ wrong/ name/ Air, yxcked from the/ room/, replaced/ with fear A child aware/... I am/from "You/ may go-!" (ypared) They bay he/ had a/ daughter my axge/ In/the/endthe/hind/enemy wa^hdled/ Hiy daughter IChe/ me/ - loyt a/ father No one/wow... I am/fromliberation/andLegal birth l<Mvy A KI/ orphanage/ yta^ged/ for photoy while/ the/ ytate/ ported/ things out CUUmed/by U ncU/^ahriel and shared/with Uncle/ Lecrn Variy to London and bach a<ga<in Judatym neglected; Chriytianity learned/ O nee/ atyMAV "Koochele/", but ytiH not home/ I cuvv from motherleyyto motherhood A bride/of 5 6 yeary Torn/ from my rooty but now transplanted/ and re/- rooted/ by vviemxrrie^y belf-created bummer -housey, restorationy, boughter, and love/ Vajyt memories in the/ shadowy hiddenby happy memories of the/ present I am from adthete/ things Shattered/ and fractured/ before/ maturity the/ last of my family tree/ from what should/ be/ an inheritance/ of bitter rooty Instead/the/ rematrung- beedy of love/and hope/- a/promise/ of a/ great tomorrow! TICTWRT f C r