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Curators Corner

“Chere Odette”: Charlotte Delbo’s Letter

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Charlotte Delbo and her husband, Georges Dudach, were arrested in March 1942 for their involvement in the French Resistance. Georges was executed in prison in May of that year. Charlotte spent nearly 11 months in a series of French camps. On January 24, 1943, she was one of 230 French women, members of the resistance, who were deported from France to Auschwitz. After a year in Auschwitz, she was sent to Ravensbrück. At the end of the war, she was one of only 49 women from the Janaury 24 transport who survived.

After liberation, Charlotte wrote about her experiences in the camps. She struggled to explain the unexplainable horrors she saw and lived through to readers who had not been there. Her memoir was translated into English as Auschwitz and After (Yale University Press, 1995). While they were at Auschwitz, Charlotte and her fellow prisoners kept count of the days so that if they were ever freed they would be able to report death dates and last words to the family members of those who did not survive. In her book Convoy to Auschwitz: Women of the French Resistance (Northeastern University Press, 1997), she provided a biographical sketch of each of her fellow deportees—those who survived as well as those who died—from January 24, 1943.

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