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Bertha Schwarz was born in Belgium and lived with her parents, two younger sisters, and grandparents. On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Belgium. Bertha and her family fled to a small village in Southern France, where the Red Cross provided them with an apartment. They remained hidden until September of 1940 when her family was arrested for not carrying proper papers. Soon after, they were taken to the Brens internment camp in France. Because it was too dangerous to keep the whole family together, Bertha’s grandparents were sent to a different location and their whereabouts were not discovered until after the war. Bertha and her middle sister attended school, where Bertha learned to speak French. A rabbi helped Bertha’s mother send her children to a home in Marseille, France, where they stayed until November of 1942. As Germany expanded its invasion to Southern France, Bertha and her sisters were moved to several children’s homes. Finally, in September of 1943, Bertha and her family were smuggled across the border of Switzerland and held in a Swiss refugee camp. Her mother and youngest sister were sent to live in a hotel in Morgin, and she and her middle sister lived in Institut Ascher, Geneva, where they stayed until the end of the war in 1945.
Bertha and her family moved to Palestine after the war. Bertha’s mother remarried in 1946 and soon after, Bertha joined the army under the artillery regiment. After two years in the army, Bertha married in 1955. Bertha and her husband emigrated to New York in 1957 and later moved to Boston where Bertha got a job at a company specializing in computers, and her husband became a car salesman. They had three children. Bertha later moved to Baltimore to be closer to her family. 60 years after the war, Bertha decided to do research on her family’s history. Bertha now continues to share her story and works with the Speaker Bureau and the Baltimore Jewish Council.
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