Leon Reinach

Leon Reinach

Leon Reinach

Leon Reinach, son of Theodore Reinach, was born into a wealthy Jewish family. Leon was one of six children. He studied music at the Conservatoire de Paris, was a veteran of the French army in World War I, and married Beatrice de Camondo in 1919.  His father, Theodore (one of the 3 Reinach brothers, “Je Sais Tout”, Joseph, Salomon,Theodore),  was a famous French scholar and politician. Theodore Reinach wrote l”Histoire des Israélites depuis la ruine de leur indépendance nationale jusqu’à nos jours. Leon’s father was a member of the Chambre des Deputes from 1906-1914.

Leon’s father built a magnificent Greek style villa, Villa Kerylos, along the French Riviera. http://www.villa-kerylos.com/en/home Leon spent much time there before he was married, and then also visited there with his wife Beatrice and two children.

Leon’s father bequeathed this magnificent villa to the Institut de France. Leon was in charge of his father’s valuable archives. When the Germans occupied Southern France, they seized the villa and destroyed these archives.

Leon lived in Neuilly sur Seine during the Nazi occupation. Leon did not at first grasp the extremely evil nature of the Nazi regime. He wrote letters protesting the seizure of his family’s paintings which had been deposited/hidden in the Chateau de Chambord. The famous painting of the little girl Irene Cahen d’Anvers, Leon’s mother-in-law,  by Renoir was stolen by the Nazis along with many other valuable paintings and possessions of other Jews. Leon left Paris and lived in Pau before trying to escape to Spain along with Bertrand. They were caught on December12, 1942 and later sent to Drancy. Leon, Bertrand and Fanny were on convoy no. 62 which left for Auschwitz in November 1943.

Beatrice de Camondo Reinach

Beatrice de Camondo Reinach

Beatrice de Camondo Reinach

 Beatrice, along with her brother Nissim, grew up in the magnificent mansion built by her father Moise. Her bedroom was designed for “royalty”, with an emphasis on her love for horseback riding.  She was an excellent equestrian.

 After she married Leon Reinach on March 12, 1919 at the Synagogue on la rue Buffault, the couple lived with her father Moise until 1923. When France was invaded by the Nazis and the racial laws  imposed upon the Jews, she thought that she was protected by the fact that her father had donated his mansion to the French government. Her father-in-law, Theodore Reinach, had also donated his villa to the French government.

 In the end, Beatrice was not protected. She and her daughter Fanny remained in Paris even while thousands of Jews and their children  were being rounded up and deported. Beatrice and Fanny continued to go horseback riding at a riding club near where they lived in Neuilly sur Seine. Beatrice even participated in riding competitions along with German officers. http://etoilejaune-anniversaire.blogspot.co.il/2012/03/beatrice-de-camondo-la-cavaliere.htmlOn December 5, 1942, Beatrice and Fanny were arrested. The Nazis claimed that they had not been wearing their yellow star or that the yellow star was not in full view.  The two women were sent to Drancy, the concentration camp outside of Paris. Beatrice survived one year there in terrible conditions, working in the infirmery. She was deported to Auschwitz in March 1944 on convoy number 69.

 It is hard to imagine how Beatrice was able to survive in Auschwitz  and even outlive her daughter Fanny.  How could Beatrice have gone from living like royalty, only to undergo the humiliation of arrest and internment by the French collaboration government and then be deported to Auschwitz where she died shortly before the death camp was liberated? Marechal Petain gave the title of “honorary Aryen” to five Jews but not to the de Camondo  Reinach family.http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/nazioccupation/frenchjews.html. Beatrice had thought that as a native born French citizen with a brother who had been killed in World War I, that she would not be touched by the Nazis.[1]

  [1] Pierre Assouline, Le Dernier des Camondo, Gallimard, 1997.

Bertrand Reinach

Bertrand Reinach

Bertrand Reinach

Bertrand was the “problem child” of the Reinach family. He had problems studying due to a lack of concentration in school. His family allowed him to transfer to a vocational school where he learned carpentry.

Nowadays Bertrand probably would have been labeled “learning disabled.” The fact that he was a carpenter helped him and his family for a while in the Drancy concentration camp, but it didn’t save them from being deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp.

Bernard, his father and sister and more than 1000 Jews  from Drancy were bused to the near-by train station on convoy number 62 going to Auschwitz. This occurred after a failed attempt by other inmates to dig an escape tunnel out of the concentration camp Drancy. http://www.drancy.net/index.php?id_rub=histoire&num_photo=2&id_article=1035

Witnesses reported that Bernard bravely fought with all his might to avoid boarding the transport to Auschwitz. He was viciously beaten and severely injured by Alois Brunner’s guards.

He and his father were deported on the train going to Auschwitz along with 19 Resistance fighters who had been working on the tunnel. These Jewish resistance fighters jumped off the train to safety, but Bertrand for some unknown reason did not jump.

Bertrand survived the “selection” upon arrival in Auschwitz and worked at forced labor at Monowitz-Buna, part of the Auschwitz extermination camp. He died on March 22,1944.[i]


[i] Filippo Tuena, Le Variazioni Reinach, Rizzoli, pp. 357-358.

Fanny Reinach

Fanny Reinach

Fanny Reinach

 Fanny could have had  a beautiful life ahead of her, with horseback riding and gala dinners attended by the wealthiest families of Paris. She collected pictures of her favorite horses, even while she remained in Paris during the German occupation. She also visited her father and brother in the southern unoccupied zone of France several times and traveled without a special permit to cross the demarcation line.

 Fanny was arrested along with her mother on December 5, 1942 in their apartment in Neuilly sur Seine, right outside of Paris. She was sent to Drancy and from there to Auschwitz in convoy number 62 in November 1943.

 Fanny was born in the de Camondo mansion at 63 rue Monceau. She told people in the concentration camp at Drancy that she was born in a museum. [1]


[1]  Filippo Tuena, Le Variazioni Reinach, Rizzoli, p.275. ’