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Marguerite Élias Quddus

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Born
December 04, 1936 Paris, France

Map of Mukacevo, Czechoslovakia

Immigrated
1967 Montreal, Quebec

I'm ready but I'm overcome with sadness. Mama hugs and kisses us: "Goodbye children! Go, and don't look back..."

With these last words from their mother, two little girls, Marguerite and her older sister, Henriette, started a long and wandering journey that lasted three years. Given new identities, they had to forget everything about their former, familiar lives. Taken from farms to convents, they learned how to remain silent, to pretend, to lie in order to survive. This story is beautifully illustrated by the author.

About Marguerite

Marguerite Élias Quddus was born in Paris, France. She and her husband, Abdul Quddus, married in 1965 and moved to Canada, first to Vancouver and then to Montreal, where Marguerite became very involved in volunteer teaching. Today she is extremely active in giving talks about her war experience.

Photos and Artifacts

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    Marguerite’s paternal great-grandfather, Shlomo Éliashev.

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    The gravestone of Marguerite’s great-grandfather, Shlomo Éliashev, in the Mount of Olives cemetery, Jerusalem.

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    Marguerite’s father, Maurice Élias (Srol Moïse Éliash), circa 1930.

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    Marguerite’s father, Maurice Élias (left), with his brother, Marguerite’s Uncle Léon, who had just enrolled in the French army. Paris, circa 1933.

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    Marguerite and her sister, Henriette, at Marguerite’s first birthday party, 1937.

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    Marguerite’s first birthday party. December 4, 1937.

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    The extended family celebrating Marguerite’s first birthday. From left to right: Marguerite’s aunt Sara; Uncle Léon; Aunt Rose; Marguerite’s parents, Maurice and Rachel, holding Henriette (left) and Marguerite; Salomon, or “Poupko,” a friend of Aunt Sonia’s; Aunt Sonia; and Uncle Wolf.

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    The Élias family before Marguerite’s father enlisted as a voluntary military recruit in the French army. Circa 1939–1940.

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    The Chatenay family, who took care of Marguerite and her sister, Henriette. From left to right: Antoinette Chatenay, Marguerite, Robert Chatenay, Henriette and “Granny,” Robert’s mother. Vatilieu, summer 1943.

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    Marguerite (left) and her sister, Henriette, wearing their rabbit skin fur coats on the mountain at Vatilieu during their time with the Chatenay family. Circa 1943.

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    Marguerite (right) with her sister, Henriette, and farm dog, Black. Vatilieu, 1943.

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    Marguerite (left) and Henriette reuniting with their mother after the war. Notre-Dame-de-l’Osier (Isère), spring 1945.

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    Marguerite (right), her sister and their mother. Lyon, 1945.

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    The Élias sisters with their friend Harry Vidékis. Lyon, 1945.

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    Marguerite on a picnic in Andrésy, 1946.

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    Marguerite’s mother visiting Marguerite (right) and Henriette in Andrésy.

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    Marguerite in Andrésy, circa 1946.

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    Marguerite (top left) with friends and a teacher in Andrésy, 1946.

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    Marguerite (third row, second from the right) at eleven years old in the Cité Voltaire public school class photo. Paris, 1947.

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    Marguerite’s mother, Rachel Perl Élias (second from the left), with the moneylender (left) after the war. Marguerite, far right, is standing beside her brother, Benoît. Circa 1948.

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    Marguerite (front row, eighth from the left) at the communist youth club of the Union des juifs pour la résistance et l’entraide (UJRE; the Union of Jews for Assistance and Resistance). Circa 1947–1950.

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    The children celebrating the arrival of renowned artist Marc Chagall.

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    The children celebrating the arrival of renowned artist Marc Chagall.

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    Thirteen-year-old Marguerite (front, right) in a Yiddish play at summer camp, 1950.

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    Henriette, Marguerite’s older sister, at seventeen. Paris, 1951.

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    The card that Marguerite’s mother received from the French government in 1954 identifying her as a war victim whose property had been confiscated and entitling her to some form of compensation.

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    Document issued by the Minister of Veterans and War Victims in 1955 confirming the dates of Marguerite’s father’s internment, deportation and death.

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    Enjoying the socialist Zionist Borochov Dror summer camp, circa 1953. Marguerite is in the front row, far left.

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    The Jewish People’s choir of Paris. Marguerite’s stepfather, Ary Kaufman (second row, third from the left) was the volunteer director. Marguerite’s mother is sitting to his left.

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    Marguerite, age twenty-two.

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    Marguerite (left side, second desk back) in the payroll department of the army, where she worked between 1954 and 1959.

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    Marguerite and Abdul Quddus’s wedding photo, April 17, 1965. Front row, left to right: Marguerite’s mother, Rachel; Abdul; Marguerite; Benoît. Back row, left to right: Marguerite’s cousin, Monique Zanditénas; Abdul’s cousin, Sha Qureshi; Madame Moireau, a friend and client from before the war; and Marguerite and Abdul’s neighbour.

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    Marguerite and her husband, Abdul, on the way to Canada on the RMS Carmania. Le Havre, August 25, 1967.

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    Marguerite and her husband, Abdul, in Vancouver, 1968.

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    Marguerite volunteering at schools in Montreal in the mid to late 1970s.

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    Marguerite volunteering at schools in Montreal in the mid to late 1970s.

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    Dinner party at Benoît’s house in Paris. From left to right: Marguerite, her brother, Benoît, and sister, Henriette. Sitting in front are Marguerite’s son, Michael, and her niece, Johanna. 1980.

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    Marguerite and her son, Michael, visiting Antoinette and Robert Chatenay, farmers who hid Marguerite during the war. Vatilieu, 1980.

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    Marguerite’s nephew, Bruno Massardo (left) with her son, Michael, and grandson, Nicolas. 2012.

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    Marguerite Élias Quddus, 2012.

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    My Papa's Arrest. Illustration by Marguerite from her memoir, In Hiding.

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    Germans on My Street. Illustration by Marguerite from her memoir, In Hiding.

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    In the Gutter. Illustration by Marguerite from her memoir, In Hiding.

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    In the Rain. Illustration by Marguerite from her memoir, In Hiding.

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    They Take Mama Away. Illustration by Marguerite from her memoir, In Hiding.

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    Carrying Logs. Illustration by Marguerite from her memoir, In Hiding.

The Book

Cover of In Hiding

In Hiding

I’m ready, but I’m overcome with sadness. Mama hugs us and kisses us: “Goodbye, children! Go, and don’t look back.…"

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In Hiding

My Papa's Arrest

Papa has put his hat on askew and the collar of his overcoat is turned under. Mama hands him his small suitcase. “Here are a few clothes,” she says, sounding distressed. They rush down the stairs. I watch them from the top of the stairs, stunned, and then I follow Mama to the kitchen window like a sleepwalker. Papa tries to go into the toilet in the courtyard, but they don’t let him. They grab him by the arm and drag him like a convict. The concierge finds it funny, watching from her window. She infuriates me!

“See you soon,” calls Papa, looking back. My father knows what he’s talking about. She’ll see, he’ll come back! The officers and Papa are walking so fast that by the time we get to the window facing the street, they’re already far away. “He didn’t even shave and he had nothing to eat,” says Mama, upset. Seeing my sister and me, she changes her tone. “Get dressed, girls. We’ll go with him.”

I’ve never gotten dressed so fast in my life. Mama has made herself pretty. She’s holding a parcel in case Papa needs it. She goes out with Henriette without closing the door. Then she comes back and gets me. She walks very fast and Henriette follows us. When we get outside, they’re still there. Phew! We’re going to see Papa again! We’re still wearing our slippers. He’s talking with Dr. David, Dr. Weisman the dentist, Monsieur Salonès and some other people.

“Moisheleh... Moisheleh!” Mama calls. He turns around. He’s seen us! I’m so excited! He takes a big step forward. “Stop! Don’t move!” says a nasty man.

The three of us walk toward him. With one leap, my sister and I are in his arms. He holds me so tightly I can hardly breathe but I don’t get angry. I cling to his body and look hungrily at his face. I won’t let him go without me. I kiss him in spite of the bristles of his beard. He looks into my eyes. I’ll never let go of him.

What’s this racket? A car has just pulled up and the policemen are pointing their guns. “My dear little girls, Henriette and Marguerite, we have to part now. But it won’t be for long. Be good with Mama, don’t give her any trouble. Promise?” We nod in agreement.

Someone opens the beautiful gate to the courtyard and they start lining the men up. Papa bends down, releases us from his embrace and sets us both on the ground. I refuse to let go of him. “Come on, children, it’s Mama’s turn now.” I hold on even tighter to him. I’m the youngest, after all. “You have to let me go. I need to talk to her.” He gives me a gentle push. My mother is crying and he comforts her instead of me. In my distress, I’m jealous. He takes her tenderly in his arms. “Calm down, Rokheleh, calm down, please!” They whisper things into each other’s ears.

“We’ve got everybody. It’s time to go, ladies and gentlemen!” The officers call out the names, one by one, and roughly separate the women from the men. “David. Éliash. Solanès. Weisman.” The men are packed like sardines into the khaki Citroën. Papa leans out and shouts, “Courage, Rachel! Courage, children! I’ll see you soon!” I’m so miserable. Mama murmurs under her breath, “Courage, Moishinkeh, courage!”

I have a stomachache. I have to go home. The cars pull quickly away. We wave to the one Papa is in as it disappears in the distance. The sun is rising and with it, my hatred. My heart is so heavy.