Monday, September 7, 2015

Zenaida Paley-Morhange (1909-1987)

Zenaida "Zina" Paley was born in Lodz, Poland in June 1909. The family relocated to France where she married Jean Morhange, a doctor like herself. They eventually settled in the village of Chamberet with their daughter Claude and Zina's mother.

As did many Jews, Zina and Jean entered the French resistance in WWII. In their village was another doctor who was also the mayor of Chamberet. To eliminate his "competition", the mayor denounced Zina to the Gestapo.

She was deported to Auschwitz from Drancy in Convoi des 72 on 29 April 1944 (prisoner no. 80636) and was assigned to the Revier hospital camp. There she falsifyed patient records in order to keep them from being transferred to the gas chamber or the "special hospital."

She was released after 13 months, physically unrecognizable and worn both physically and morally. Unlike many survivors, Zina confided her camp experiences to her daughter Claude: the forced marches, her life as a Jewish doctor in the infirmary, her efforts to help prisoner patients and save them from the Selektion (gassing), the sick and demoralized women who had lost the desire to survive.

In 1941, Jean Morhange died in a car accident. Zina died in Paris in October 1987.

In the late 70s their daughter Claude published her family's story in a book. It was translated to English and published in 1985 under the title The True Story of a Jewish Family in Wartime France.

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