David P. Boder Interviews Marcelle Precker; August 12, 1946; Paris, France



Marcelle Precker was born in Paris to well-to-do Jewish parents. There is no indication in her interview that she had any siblings. She and her husband had one child, but her husband died in 1939, the year before France fell to the Germans. In the wake of the German occupation, Mrs. Precker's parents and her young daughter fled south into the area controlled by the Vichy government.

Mrs. Precker remained in Paris to protect her father's fur business and the family's upscale apartment. She narrowly escaped arrest during the infamous roundup of Paris Jews on July 16 and 17, 1942. She then went to southern France to rejoin her family. They resided for a time in the city of Nice, which was in the Italian zone of occupation from June 1940 to September 8, 1943. During this time, the Italians treated Jews in their zone benevolently.

Following the collapse of Italy's fascist government and the signing by the successor regime of an armistice with the Allies, the Germans occupied the Italian zone of southeastern France, and Mrs. Precker and her family moved to Cannes, where they were arrested in late June 1944. After spending about a month in prison, they were shipped to the notorious Drancy camp located in a suburb of Paris. They remained there for about three weeks until they were liberated shortly before Paris fell to the Allies on August 25, 1944.

Mrs. Precker's account of her experiences illustrates the fanatic obsessiveness with which the Nazis pursed the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" even when they were on the very edge of military defeat. Indeed, the imperative to murder every single Jew persisted up until the collapse of the Nazi regime. Mrs. Precker's story also demonstrates the importance of luck, which played a crucial role in her escape from the July 1942 Paris roundup, and was an important factor in preventing the deportation of Mrs. Precker and her family from Drancy to Auschwitz and almost certain death. They were saved from this fate because they arrived in the camp shortly before Paris fell to the Allies. Finally, like so many survivors, though scarred and traumatized by their experiences, Mrs. Precker and her family were able to rebuild their lives after the war.

—Elliot Lefkovitz