Benjamin, Jacques, and Odette Emram Identified

Odette Emram was born in Marseille on September 22, 1936. She had four brothers: Martin Albert, the eldest, born in 1924; Sabim, called "Sauveur," born in 1925; Benjamin in 1929; and Jacques in 1934. Their father, Isaac Emram, was born in 1892 in Salonica, Greece, and their mother, Rebecca Levy, in Constantinople in 1902. Odette was ten years old in this photo. Jacques was 12 and Benjamin was 17. Odette remembers that the photo was taken in Marseille, and she has a copy of it at home. She once saw it in an exhibition in Marseille of World War II artifacts.

Rebecca Levy came to France with her family around 1910, and Isaac came to France by himself around 1919. They were married in 1922. Judeo-Espagnol (Ladino) was spoken in their home in the center of Marseille near the Place de l'Opera, where many other immigrant Jews lived. Odette's maternal grandfather was a merchant, importing and exporting eggs, as was Odette's father. Her grandmother was a seamstress, embroidering fabrics at home.

At the outbreak of the war in 1939, the family became aware of problems in Paris. Odette's father instructed her siblings to stop speaking Ladino in 1942. Soon thereafter, her father saw military trucks with many people inside on the streets of Marseille and told his children to be careful.  Odette remembers when the police came for her father and brother Martin in 1943, leaving her mother and grandmother in tears. Odette, her brothers Sauveur, Sabim, and Jacques, as well as her mother and grandmother went into hiding in and around Marseille until liberation. One of their father's cousins hid them first in their old neighborhood near the port where their father and brother had been arrested. When this hiding place proved unsafe, they moved a second time to the Marseille suburbs, to a lodging provided by Sauveur's boss. Benjamin worked in a bakery near the Place de l'Opera in 1944 and later in a carpet shop. Odette recalls the war going on around her—planes flying overhead and food shortages.

Sauveur joined the Resistance but said very little about his activities. In March 1943, the family received a card from Martin saying that their father was ill. Odette still doesn't know where the card came from. They later learned that their father had died that same month and was buried somewhere in Paris. Martin had been deported in the direction of Auschwitz or Sobibor, but Odette cannot recall exactly.

After the war, Odette became a secretary and worked in an insurance company until she had her first child and later worked with her husband.  She and her husband had two daughters and a son and she now has six grandchildren. Her brothers Jacques and Benjamin have passed away.

« See all Updates