Marie Cori

Marie Cori
Nationality: French
Location: France • Paris
Experience During Holocaust: Family or Person in Hiding • Family Survived • Taken to an Orphanage Run by Nuns • Was a Child During the Holocaust

Mapping Marie's Life

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“I had a terrible infection. I couldn’t eat, I was sick. I was a sickly kid. I had a lot of lice, and I had, uh, like holes with puss... it went into my throat. So, Mother Superior.. with pliers that you cut the grapes, and a man was holding me, and they say, 'one sound and you gonna, they gonna kill you. The hospital is full of German.'” - Marie Cori

Read Marie's Oral History Transcripts

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Tape 1 - Side 1

PRINCE: My name is Vida “Sister” Prince and today is Saturday July 31, 2004 and I am interviewing Marie Cori for the Oral History Project at the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center. Now, the machine is running and Marie, just tell me when you were born and what life was like with your family, who they were.
CORI: Okay.
PRINCE: And where you were born
CORI: I was born in Paris, France. My maiden family name was Kolkowicz. We lived in a building of about five Jewish families, so we had a lot of friends. My grandmother lived with us, my aunts lived with us so we were in two and a half rooms about ten or fifteen. It was fun. We had no choice but to play with each other.
PRINCE: You were born
CORI: In Paris.
PRINCE: In what year?
CORI: 1934.
PRINCE: 1934.
CORI: And it was great. I went to a Jewish school with at least eleven kids from the building, my two sisters, and the teachers. We would sing and it was a wonderful school.
PRINCE: What’d your dad do? What’d your father do?
CORI: My dad was sewing for people.
PRINCE: So he was a tailor?
CORI: At this time, anything, a tailor, or a button, or whatever he could find worked. We were very poor. There was no toilet, the toilets were in the hallway. There was no water. We had to carry the water from the hallway, heat it up, wash our ha-, I mean it was difficult, but we were – everybody – nobody had toilets so it was fine.
PRINCE: Yeah. So this is what you did.
CORI: Yeah we were very happy. I would say very, a lot of singing, a lot of , it was a fun place.
PRINCE: And you had seven, there were seven children?
CORI: At this time five, two were born after the war.
PRINCE: After the war, okay. Well tell me about your siblings. Your brothers and sisters?
CORI: Uh. (pause)
PRINCE: Just tell me who they were.
CORI: Okay. I – my oldest sister was Ida. And Rachel, me, my brother Marcel, my brother Simon, and the two little sisters, Ginette and Nicole.
PRINCE: After the war?
CORI: Right.
PRINCE: Alright. Did you lead a particularly religious life?
CORI: Not at all.
PRINCE: Not at all.
CORI: Just a Jewish School.
PRINCE: Just a Jewish School.
CORI: Uh-huh. Not at all. They were to busy working and raising us and washing hair and washing sheets and everything was very, a lot of work.
PRINCE: Yeah and everybody chipped in.
CORI: No, we didn’t do anything, cause we had our grandma.
PRINCE: No, no I meant you, you for working helped each other.
CORI: Yeah. We were four all sleeping in a bed so we would fight and giggle. There was no other, there were no other beds that you ply, you know, that you open up to a bed. So, during the day there was two against that wall, two against… and it was fun.
PRINCE: Were there games?
PRINCE: No. No, I meant that you played together?
CORI: Yeah. We played, something we do with chalk outside and you jump on the…
PRINCE: Hopscotch we call it.
CORI: Oh, Okay. And that was the big thing.
CORI: Nobody had toys, there were none in my building.
PRINCE: Alright. Tell me, tell me about what, began to change? Was it by voice, what did you hear your parents talking about?
CORI: No. I was in the garden, my grandmother would pick me up from the school and take me to the garden for an hour or two. And I remember hearing boots marching. And my grandmother put her eyes, her hands over my eyes. That’s the first time that I feel something they don’t want me see or hear. She just went like this. Uh, I didn’t feel too much, I um, because I was. Since I was six or seven, wearing the star didn’t mean anything to me, as much as it did to my sister they were fourteen and twelve and, uh, people would stare more at them than me.
PRINCE: Did anybody explain when they put the star on you? Did your mom tell you why?
CORI: No, It was a time when nobody asked questions.
CORI: You did what your parents told you, and.
PRINCE: Did you know you were Jewish?
CORI: Oh yeah.
PRINCE: And did you know…
CORI: Because Yiddish was spoken at the house.
PRINCE: You spoke Yiddish.
CORI: My grandma did not speak a word of French.
PRINCE: Uh-huh.
CORI: And so, uh, yeah, I knew I was Jewish.
PRINCE: And did you know that star meant that you were Jewish?
CORI: Yeah. But, (little pause) we accepted it.
PRINCE: But, did you know that it, it was, then you were, you could recognize you were different than other people?
CORI: No because I didn’t really, was in contact with gentile.
PRINCE: Not even on the street. Walking, you see people.
PRINCE: But you were so young.
CORI: Yeah, the only time that I, the first time I really really got scared when I wore this, was when my father said “from school you come straight!” Because some, my sister had an hour more, then I always come out with my sisters. And, (sigh) we had a lot of, uh, shateng, how do you say shateng in English? Uh, (thinking) chestnut trees, and as I walked down the street, I saw a house with the gate open, and a lot of chestnut on the floor and we would make rings out of it. So, I went in and I had my apron, you know we all had little uniforms, and I filled it up and a German came out of the building on the stairs with a gun.
PRINCE: In uniform.
CORI: Yes. And he, “JUDEN”. You know, he start to scream. And I, I don’t know, I remember if I dropped the ch- I froze, but there was a lot of people across the street that started to scream.
CORI: A “Let her go” and they were throwing, I don’t know, they were mad.
PRINCE: At him?
CORI: And, Yes. And he let me go, but he, if he was two or three, they would have not let me go, it just that he was alone. But I went home and never told my father until I was thirty-five years old because I knew it was forbidden to do what I did.
CORI: I disobeyed my dad. But when I was thirty-five I did tell him.
PRINCE: And what did he say when you were thirty-five?
CORI: My Father said, “My heart, I thought everybody would hear it.” It was, (The German:) “Mraw, rah, rah.” I was so petrified. That’s the first time that I really see I’m different, he’s gonna kill me. But until then, no not really.
PRINCE: And what does that do to a child?
CORI: You freeze, you j-, you don’t understand. I pee in my pants. I mean, that’s to tell you what fear is. You have no, you lose co-, you don’t know you, you’re just paralyzed. In fact, I don’t remember what I did with the chestnuts.
PRINCE: with the chestnuts
CORI: All of a sudden, it was not important.
PRINCE: Yeah. Did you, did you, tell your sister or brother?
CORI: Nobody. Nobody.
PRINCE: Then you lived with that?
CORI: I relived it, I was, I disobeyed, this was some punishment for me.
PRINCE: And the next time you walked home from school and passed that place?
CORI: I didn’t, I went across the street.
PRINCE: You went across the street.
CORI: And I will never go, uh! Yeah and then what happened, one day, Ida, my sister, had a, woke up with a stomach ache, it was 1941, I was six and a half, and she, so my mother say you better stay home. Well, Rachel started to cry, “I’m staying to keep her company” while sh-, you know?
PRINCE: uh-huh.
CORI: My mother was a kind of a good, easy person. Okay, I stay home. Well, I started to cry. I don’t wanna go by myself. “Oh” you know, “stay home”. That day they took all the children from my school including the teacher, the principal. The parents went to pick up their kids, they were gone.
PRINCE: Oh no.
CORI: And so you know how guilty you feel walking and facing those parents why we are alive?
PRINCE: Uh, wow.
CORI: I went with guilt for a long time. I would bend my he – I couldn’t look at them. Unfortunately, the parents got taken too, a week later. Anyway, it started, they took the people on the fourth floor, on uh, I don’t remember exactly the day. Then the Rosenblum was on Monday with five kids too. All my friends. The second floor was Tuesday, Wednesday. Ida said to my mother, “We leaving.” Uh, strike, she didn’t want to eat. She saved our lives. My mother said, “I have no money, where am I gonna go with?” She was petrified. Ida, who was fourteen years old, found a guy. We gave him the feather pillows. We had no money, she gave him the wedding band. He did. He had pity. And I remember going around seven o’clock, early, we had to use the last wagon. From the metro we are not allowed on the train with other passengers. So, he didn’t want to have anything to do with us. He says, “You know if we get caught, I don’t know you because I’m saving a lot of people.” The man scared me, he had a big neck, he had a German neck.
PRINCE: Yeah, thick?
CORI: I don’t know I was scared of him. And so he put us, two in that seat, one… completely separate on the train.
PRINCE: How many were you?
CORI: Five, six with my mother. … (sighs) German comes, but, no luggage, like your leaving, like you going…
PRINCE: And how did he take you from the apartment there, in,
CORI: With nothing.
PRINCE: With, Did he, Was it a buggy, or a wagon, or?
CORI: Walking.
PRINCE: Walking. Walking. He just escorted you.
CORI: He say, “On the metro. I don’t know you. Your mother is deaf, don’t let her speak because with that accent.” No luggage, nothing. He took my little brother who was like six months old, because he shouldn’t cry. Took us in a forest. In the forest we were met with a guy with a wagon, with the straw…
PRINCE: Wait, wait.
CORI: I know I’m lost.
PRINCE: No, no no no no no. Let me ask you a couple of questions. You fitted in where? Were you?
CORI: The third.
PRINCE: The third, okay. And so he put you on the train.
CORI: On the metro.
PRINCE: On the metro, on the metro. And then where did the metro go?
CORI: I don’t know.
PRINCE: No, But I mean you were talking about a forest.
CORI: I don’t know. I, I uh, I don’t know where we went. All I remember is that forest. I remember what I remember.
PRINCE: So after the metro, there was a forest.
CORI: A forest. And a man, they were, they had signs. Signs, like its okay. Because we heard dog barking. We… it was dangerous, walking. And, but I remember my brother never cried, so I know they doped him. I didn’t know it then, but. Umm. (pause) I remember going to a farm. And we had water, I don’t know if it was four days later, two days later, I have no recollection at all.
PRINCE: Yeah, yeah. Just, just bits and pieces.
CORI: I remember we dirty. At this time we were, I remembered, feeling, cause we were pretty clean. Although poor, but we were clean. I felt dirty. And, I remember washing my mouth and we have no toothpaste, but just cleaning up in that farm, we stayed, I don’t know. No recollection. Then there was a L’O.S.E.1, saved my life.
PRINCE: And what is that?
1. L’O.S.E. is a Jewish organization in France that helps children.
CORI: L’O.S.E. is an organization in France till today takes care of children. They came and they told my mother. You have no… you cannot survive together. You must separate.
PRINCE: It’s not a, not a Jewish organization?
CORI: Oh sure.
PRINCE: Oh it is one. Okay.
CORI: But they take care of gentile children too. Whoever is in need. Begged my mother to separate. There is no other way. We will place you here, and you there. We have, and maybe one will come back. And my mother now, well, anyway, it was a lot of tears. And me and my brother went up, went to a Chateau. It was called… stop when it…
PRINCE: Um, alright let me ask you something, and then I will… Were you privy to the conversation that they said you have to separate because one won’t make it…
CORI: No, no no.
PRINCE: Your mother told you that.
CORI: My mother, NO, we heard my mother cry, and we saw that lady, but I …
PRINCE: You didn’t hear that?
CORI: No not really. Eh. [tape cuts] of that. (requested that the tape stop recording for a moment.)
PRINCE: mm-hmm.
CORI: But at the Chateau was wonderful.
PRINCE: We’ll see. We’ll see if Brian has a [tape cuts] any information on it.
CORI: And it was nice. We had like five six, young doctors in their twenties, or thirties, took care of us. We planted things that we, the partisan, was a lot of partisan. Partisan means people were against the Germans. And they brought us food. I don’t know how many we were. But there was a lot of German children. I don’t know how many we were. We were like six in a room or eight. Anyway, it didn’t last long.
PRINCE: Were they Jewish children only?
CORI: Yeah. Yeah, because they didn’t bother the other children anyway. For us it meant death. And I remember the Joint here.
PRINCE: Joint Distribution?
CORI: Sent clothes. Because there was a red dress that I wanted so bad, and no no, no, you cannot have it because you’ll dirty it because we worked in the garden. And there were kids that were like a year old.
PRINCE: Who was taking care of you?
CORI: Those young teachers or doctors.
CORI: I don’t know how many people are alive from that Chateau. Anyway, there was another Chateau where they had the information that trucks were coming to pick up the kids. It was, it was on TV2. They were like a mile away. And they came to warn the people. So they put a few on a wagon. Five on the street, five on a train. Whatever they separated. Within two hours, I left with my red dress. She gave it to me.
PRINCE: Oh. You got the red dress.
2. Marie saw a TV program recently (2002) that told the story about the town of Chabanne which was close to the Chateau.
CORI: Yeah it was, anyway, (becomes tearful) they said, “Your name is no longer Kolkowicz. You must tell your little brother.” Well, he was four, how do you… She says, “On the train somebody approach you and ask you, start screaming. Scream like your lungs are gonna explode. Momma, poppa. You’re lost. And pinch your brother he should do the same thing. I beg you or you dead. I mean just like this.”
PRINCE: You’re seven.
CORI: Seven or eight at this time. So the eight year-old had to take care of the little ones. Sure enough, I’m on the train and the Gestapo, I see them. We were in the hallway, there was no seats. And I see then coming, two of them. And I start to pinch my brother, and first he went like this and at the end he start to scream and I start, momma mom- as they get closer, the train stopped in Lourdes. There was a stop sign. They throw us out from the train. We were lucky, they couldn’t stand the screaming. And two nuns were on the bench, and we ended up with them.
PRINCE: Oh my…
CORI: And they put us in the orphanage. Well, I mean, we were lucky through the war, just luck.
PRINCE: This is like a big accident, sort of, I mean..
CORI: I don’t know how those woman did what they did in two hours. I’m talking about two, three hundred children. Within hours, to place them. And I don’t know how many are alive. I tried to go on the computer. I tried to research.
PRINCE: Marie, were you all thrown off on purpose? So not because
CORI: Yes. Get out!
PRINCE: No, no no no no no I mean because the nuns were there?
CORI: No no no It was a stop.
PRINCE: Just an accident.
CORI: I’m just lucky…
PRINCE: That that’s where they did it?
CORI: Yeah. No. It just happened that they came was the station, a small station, like Kirkwood, uh, I mean…
CORI: Just sitting there. So at the nun, it was okay, nobody knew I was Jewish. There must have been other Jewish kids, but I don’t know about that. Mother Superior knew, because my brother been circumcised. So the Mother Superior would call me sometime at night screaming: (harshly) “Marie, come with me” You know, real mean. And she would give me bread, and she would give me whatever she could, and then she would slap me, for me to come back crying so the other kids would not know.
CORI: Yeah. I was very mixed up kid. You don’t understand until later. Then I have, I had a terrible infection. I couldn’t eat, I was sick. I was a sickly kid. I had a lot of lice, and I had, uh, like holes with puss, I don’t know what you call it.
CORI: It was all over my body. From dirt, I don’t know.
CORI: It was awful. So, anyway, it went into my throat. So, Mother Superior, I don’t know if it is Mother Superior, I think it was Mother Superior, with plyers that you cut the grapes, and a man was holding me, and they say, “one sound and you gonna, they gonna kill you. The hospital is full of German.” In the dark, with the lights, with the, and cut my tonsils. They put me, you saw my attic upstairs.
CORI: Okay, that’s where I was with straw. And I’m infected like fever, I was sick. I was very sick. At this time I lost my brother. I no more, I don’t know what happened to my brother from the orphanage. And this man stole food from leftover from all the patient and fed me every night.
PRINCE: The man that was holding you? That was with mother Superior?
CORI: (Crying) I wish I could remember his face. He, he saw the lice, he bought me a comb, he bought me a cat because there were so many mice all over me.
CORI: To get rid of the mice. And then one day, he carried me. He carried me I don’t know if he took me to Spain. I have no idea. I know we went on mountains. He put me in a square in a village. He did all this.
PRINCE: Made a sign.
CORI: Made a sign. I don’t know what that sign. I didn’t go to school, I didn’t read. I, I was very dirty. Very, nobody, well anyway, the market closed after a few hours and I was still there. The older kids that had things, they took him from age the twelve years old. But I was still a kid, and I was so bad, so filthy. I don’t know how long I was in that, with, in that, uh…
PRINCE: Square.
CORI: No, where I was… no, no When I was in that hospital, in that…
PRINCE: Attic?
CORI: Attic. If I, I don’t know if it was a month or a year, but I never washed. So you can imagine.
PRINCE: And so you went to the bathroom there too?
CORI: Everything. I couldn’t leave, I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t make noise. It (the hospital) was filled with Germans. The cat was my company.
PRINCE: Did you know this man’s name?
CORI: No, because he came at night.
PRINCE: But did he talk to you?
CORI: Always, but I didn’t make…
PRINCE: What did he say? What did he say?
CORI: Nothing, couldn’t talk, you’re with Germans. Couldn’t laugh.
PRINCE: But when he took you and he was carrying you?
CORI: It was at night. And, oh, I don’t remember because I think I was too weak to even remember. I was in bad condition. Anyway, and I’m staying at that market (pause) and it’s closing, and I’m the only one left, and I’m getting, I’m crying, because the man is gone. I don’t know where to go. And of course, when you get hungry, you stop being hungry after a while, and I think the inside eats up, you’re just more afraid than anything.
PRINCE: mm-hmm.
CORI: And a lady stops by with a little girl, and the little girl pulls her mother’s skirt and says “can we take her for one night?” I was a mess, I, I, didn’t know what a bathroom was, I would make on me, I mean I was,
PRINCE: Like a little…
CORI: They took me in. And I was so clean. And they treated me, I mean a piece of bread was shared between, I never got a piece less or more. They were wonderful. In one month I had no lice, I had a blue little skirt like the daughter, with the pleat. I went to church every day but I was used to it with the orphanage. I was very converted.
PRINCE: You, had you gone through whatever you go through?
CORI: I went to confession, they would put me something in my mouth. I mean, I, I went like the other kids did.
PRINCE: Stay with this being clean and fed?
CORI: I was very clean. I never been so clean. I mean it was like, we had soap.
PRINCE: I, I, I , I don’t even know what to ask you really, because I want to find out what it was like for you to…???
CORI: Oh it was a , I never wanted to leave.
PRINCE: What was her name?
CORI: Don’t know.
PRINCE: What did you call her? Do you remember? The little girl?
CORI: Madame, no, I don’t. It was wonderful.
PRINCE: Was there a man there?
CORI: It was , yeah there was, but I remember her more than him, and it was that little girl, and it was no pleasant for her because I would make in bed, you know the beginning, was, they should have kicked me out.
PRINCE: But they didn’t?
CORI: No they did not.
PRINCE: That’s remarkable.
CORI: Yeah. But I lived in the church. Almost. The school was in the church. It was very, very converted. I mean at this time, I forget the Jewish name3, I mean.
CORI: When they kidnapped me from Church to bring me to my parents, I was screaming all the way. I never wanted to leave.
PRINCE: Because it was what?
CORI: I thought it was another home. I mean, I almost died.
PRINCE: You just wanted, you were comfortable and clean and had enough to eat, and you didn’t want to, and you were afraid?
CORI: And there was no German there.
PRINCE: (sadly) Yeah. Yeah
CORI: I went home very very mad. Very angry. And so, to make a long story short…
PRINCE: We don’t want to, do we?
CORI: Yeah because the end is something too. When we got back to Paris, of course everything was taken, machines, it was terrible. There was no money, there was nothing. It was very hard, but anyway, I couldn’t eat without making the cross. I couldn’t go to school without going to the Church first. I was converted. And one day we were sitting at the table, and of course I’m going, Saint Marie, whatever the… and my father just like, it was not tears, it was a tear I had never seen before.
3. Marie needed to forget her Jewish name or the Germans would have found out that she was Jewish.
And don’t forget, our time we wanted to please the parent. It’s not like today we want to please the kids. I said, “What’s the matter?” He said, “I lost five sisters with their whole family. I’m dealing with this with pain. You, I don’t have to deal with this.” That was the end. I never went back.
PRINCE: to the church?
CORI: He cured me completely. I caused them enough pain.
CORI: He had enough pain. I…
PRINCE: You loved him.
CORI: That’s when I became Jewish again.
PRINCE: Just in a…
CORI: And I realized that they took advantage of the situation to convert me. In a way… as I got older, I felt like I had been used. I don’t know. I can’t explain it.
PRINCE: No, I, I understand what you’re saying.
CORI: You say, you understand. But this man that carried me, because believe me I would have been dead in that attic. No one knew I was there.
PRINCE: So you could have just died there?
CORI: Nobody would know. The rats would have killed, would have eaten me up. They wouldn’t even find a body. He really, every night, he would bring me, whatever a patient left. Of course I devoured it.
PRINCE: Oh right. Yeah.
CORI: Yeah. But anyway. So, this is a little bit my story. Uh, after the war, when I met the father of the second floor, I would bend my head. I would carry guilt a long time.
PRINCE: When you met?
CORI: Why I’m alive and his kids got killed. Or why, why, and why did I stop? And then when I heard those atrocity stories that I didn’t talk about mine. Because mine was nothing next to that. And so that’s why I didn’t say too much all these years. I’d never talked.
PRINCE: And how did you find Felicia and Hidden Children? It’s a support group, right?
CORI: I can’t tell you.
PRINCE: Does it have a name more than what I’m giving it?
CORI: No. I saw it in “Jewish Light”. Hidden children? We never existed before! I don’t believe it. I was “oh, my G-d”, I was like you had no idea. It’s my shoulder, it’s my… for instance, you know, we could, I never told anybody I peed in bed.
PRINCE: Just one minute, I want to turn this over and I want you to start again. Okay, wait a minute yeah. Wait. I just have to run it out. Um. You’re doing so well.
CORI: You do?
PRINCE: You do.
CORI: I don’t know but when you leave then I got this.
PRINCE: Well, I won’t leave I’ll stay.
CORI: You know what I’m saying.
PRINCE: Yes. Of course, I understand that. I do.
CORI: They give me a lot of support. I uh, love the group. We’re not active outside the meeting. We don’t see each other between months. But a few hours I spend with them, I like.

Tape 1 - Side 2

CORI: I love Felicia. She…
PRINCE: Felicia Graber.
CORI: Felicia Graber. She is the most humble lady. The most wonderful person I have ever met. She, um. She started the group, and I found comfort there.
PRINCE: And if you don’t mind, can you tell me just a little bit about, just tell me whatever you can about the group?
CORI: About the group? We met, I saw that in the Jewish Light. I called her. And we met it was five of us, and, um, we now twenty-one.
PRINCE: Yeah. I was gonna say you were there in the very beginning.
CORI: Right. And it’s been wonderful. I’ve really enjoyed every one of them.
PRINCE: And what is it? What do they do? What do you do?
CORI: I don’t know. We talk book revi- anything. We don’t always talk about the war. We have fun. But if we feel like crying, it’s okay too. We just, we just very comfortable. A comfortable feeling.
PRINCE: And how often?
CORI: Once a month.
PRINCE: Once a month.
CORI: I am very happy. I need that group.
PRINCE: Yes. And that group needs you, I’m sure.
CORI: I, I really enjoy going there. And like I said, I don’t drive all over, but they’ll pick me up if I need to. Some people suffered more than other, but everybody suffered their own way a lot.
PRINCE: And that helped you learn that you too could…
CORI: Right.
PRINCE: Could give in to.
CORI: But I’m the only one that found their family. There’s no, no such a thing. My father came back form the camp, my mother and the five kids, it’s unique.
PRINCE: Well, let’s talk about your dad for a minute, because we really didn’t. We just, you just told me that they came and told you to be ___.
CORI: My dad was a volunteer for the army, hoping that they wouldn’t bother him. That they would help his family, whatever. He, he was from Poland, like my mother, and, when he came back from the army, they took him to the camp of Gurs. Hard labor. They took him, uh, to Setfond4.
PRINCE: To where?
CORI: Another camp, Setfond. Where every, once a week, truck, lots of trucks would come and pick up for Auschwitz. How he escaped, is amazing, amazing. The round-ups. Because it was also luck, luck, luck. They wanted fifteen guys with the name of M, uh, twenty guys with the letter L. It didn’t matter it was completely dice, dice, _____________
4. Setfond is a non-verifiable spelling of a force labor camp in France.
gambling. With human lives. Uh, he came back with a finger like this, but uh, he got wounded, but uh, he came back. Cause he came back he was, like, forty pounds. I was in front of them.
PRINCE: Did he go, so he went to Auschwitz?
PRINCE: No. He went?
CORI: No, never made it. To the French camps.
PRINCE: Oh, to the, oh.
CORI: But he kept on switching camps. And that, If you stayed more than two weeks in a camp, you were shipped. So whenever they wanted volunteer to dig, he would always volunteer. So, every place he went he was there for two weeks. I think, that’s his survive – I think.
PRINCE: Yeah. What about your mom?
CORI: My mom lived in the forest. Sometime one foot from the peasant, sometimes not. Hiding uh, (took a deep breath) in a farm plucking chickens. Whatever, two days here, two day – there was no place for her.
PRINCE: Did you find your brother? After?
CORI: Eight months after the war. They found me five months after the war.
PRINCE: How did they?
CORI: Cause they didn’t tell me the war was ended, the people.
CORI: They kept me in the Ger- they kept me as theirs. The Red – The Jewish Red Cross. They was, they found me. Because my father complained: “What happened to those children from the, from the Chateau?”
CORI: They don’t know. All they know is they were put on that train. To do a search it took five months. I had a different name. My name was Marie Colco. C-O-L-C-O. Not Kolkowicz. I didn’t know what was. My brother. I don’t know where my brother is. What do you mean you don’t know where your brother is? No I don’t. I was in the attic. From the attic, I was, I never went back to the orphanage. And so, uh, they found him eight months after the war. He was a rebel.
PRINCE: He was what?
CORI: A, a, violent seven year-old.
PRINCE: Oh, a rebel. Yes.
CORI: Yes. He would have hit my – It was unbelievable, and until he got straightened out, took a long time. He was very rebellious, very rebellious. My sister, Ida said, “You lay a hand on her (his mother)- Yeah. He was so, I really don’t know what happenend.”
PRINCE: What, what, what did Ida mean?
CORI: What?
PRINCE: What was your sister trying to say?
CORI: “I’ll, I’ll, uh, uh, I’ll beat you, you will never have a piece a hair on your head.” [tape messes up].
PRINCE: She didn’t want anybody to hit him?
CORI: She didn’t want him to hit my mother.
PRINCE: Oh, hit, oh.
CORI: He was seven years old. It was storms. He was very mad. Very angry little boy. Don’t forget he was four.
PRINCE: So how did the family form together again? Who was there first, who then came? When did your father? Do you remember that, um, how did you get to be?
CORI: By the time the red cr- the L’O.S.E. – the Red Cross, I don’t know who, kidnapped me from Church, two people held me. I remember screaming, screaming to the train. And my father was waiting at one of the stations, took me to a farm. My mother was there with my sisters. My brother was not there yet, we didn’t find him. And then we went – I remember the next day we went back to Paris. I mean, I, I was a kid too and I had so much problems. I was also, a rebellious, I was mad. I didn’t want to leave that family.
PRINCE: So you have a –
CORI: To me they were strangers.
CORI: I was mad that they left me. I was, there was other anger when you are a child.
PRINCE: Sure. Oh, Marie.
CORI: And then when I saw my mother pregnant, I was almost mad. I say – how could she get preg- I mean, she couldn’t take care of us. OH, I was – a lot of anger as a kid. But as you grow older you understand all that.
PRINCE: How do you learn to understand, though, how is that, how do you, how did you return to life, Marie?
CORI: To normal?
CORI: My fathers tears.
PRINCE: Your father’s tears.
CORI: Yeah. That was, I couldn’t believe I could give him so much bad.
PRINCE: But also, he was telling you how much you mattered to him, wasn’t he?
CORI: Yeah.
PRINCE: And how much you –
CORI: He just couldn’t deal with this. And one time, only one time, did I do it before I went to bed, I went on my knee and I started, never finished it. Not because he was coming.
PRINCE: No because
CORI: Because it’s enough.
PRINCE: But was there love in there, I mean, could you, did you feel his, or did you, was it?
CORI: I had pity.
CORI: I… (pause) I thought if I don’t do the prayer I’m going to the devil.
PRINCE: Yeah. You were taught that, right?
CORI: Right. I was scared not to make the prayer. And I missed not going to confession, although I had nothing to confess.
PRINCE: Hmm, habit.
CORI: And I remember one day, I made a step to the church and I went back to the school. I didn’t go in. So it took maybe two, three days after the tears. I was completely, you know. But guilt stays with you a long time. I saw the fathers of somebody from the family that were killed. I would walk like this. I was ashamed to be alive.
PRINCE: So you went back to where you lived before?
CORI: Yes. It was an empty building.
CORI: Empty school.
PRINCE: Empty school.
CORI: There was a plaque, I went back. I was, I went back to my school. I saw they had a plaque and people put flowers, but… I don’t remember. I don’t remember. Not all the kids end there. Because the ones that have the parents gone, everybody’s gone, are not there. Cause somebody pays to put their name, you know how it goes, a survivor. So the kids in my building that went to the school are not on that list.
PRINCE: Mmm. You’re, you’re very kind to do this and I can see what it does to you, so I know, I mean, I don’t know, I’m, I’m, uh, I’m thanking you for, for talking with me.
CORI: I, uh, because of my age, and because I hear the denial, and because I feel guilty if I didn’t do it. Although it brings pains, it’s a, I want to do it. I, uh, You didn’t twist my arm.
PRINCE: No. I, I think um, it’, it’s very brave of you to uh…
CORI: It’s not brave or its not uh, it’s uh, it’s a story. There was worse.
PRINCE: There’s always worse.
CORI: And uh, I know that that’s why, but uh – the pain never, there was plenty pains.
PRINCE: You know its too bad that, um, I mean I hear a lot of stories, and I hear a lot of peoples memories and, and um, and different kind of projects I’ve done. And I think that’s such a shame to feel that there is a comparing of pain because it’s uh,
CORI: Yeah. That’s-
PRINCE: It’s all lousy.
CORI: No, because I hear such stories, that you couldn’t, that I couldn’t. I would be embarrassed to tell my story.
PRINCE: You mean deeper than what we…
CORI: Oh my G-d yes.
PRINCE: Yes, I know and I, I could keep you and ask you more, but I think that for your sake.
CORI: No. But see, with my group, it’s okay.
PRINCE: It’s okay. Sure.
CORI: My group is okay.
CORI: That way.
PRINCE: And I would understand that. And I would be okay too, actually, it’s just that you don’t know me.
CORI: Yeah, but I think I do.
PRINCE: Well, I, I think.
CORI: I thought you were a sister.
PRINCE: I feel that, as I told you, I could delve into another layer of memories. But I think that this is maybe, what you wanted and this is.
CORI: The hidden children were quiet for a long time.
PRINCE: There’s a… Did you feel, did you feel like the fact that you were so abused that you had done something wrong to be punished like that.
CORI: Yes. It must be bad to be Jewish.
CORI: That’s what they put you, this in the brain. Talking as a kid. Why? Why, why why aren’t we like everybody else go to Church. I mean, then nobody would bother you. You felt comfort.
PRINCE: Mm-hmm.
CORI: They give me papers, baptized. You know, I mean, but there was no German there. Where I was. The last place. I was not afraid there, and I was clean most of all, I was clean.
PRINCE: What frightens you today that brings back a memory of?
CORI: A freight train.
PRINCE: A freight train.
CORI: I turn my head all the, I can’t.
PRINCE: A uniform?
CORI: Policemen. Anybody.
[Background noise, tape cuts]
PRINCE: That’s okay.
CORI: Anybody, like customs. Or they want me to be, uh, what do you call it. UH, in a judgment. Under jury. I can’t, I just can’t.
CORI: I am paralyzed with fear. Just paralyzed…
PRINCE: So what do you tell them?>
CORI: Nothing. But they see the fear, they always check me. It could be a hundred people that call me.
PRINCE: But, you don’t. You don’t explain to them? Do you go and do it?
CORI: What do you mean?
PRINCE: On jury?
CORI: No, I can’t.
PRINCE: But how do you, you just say?
CORI: I just say, uh, uh I, I , I don’t know , my doct- I can’t do it. It’s I, I, I can’t.
PRINCE: The weather? Does the weather?
CORI: No. Uh. Fireworks. Yeah, fireworks. That kind of noise, yes.
PRINCE: Mm-Hmm. And how long does this uncomfortable last? You know, the fear. Does it just?
CORI: (Pause) It’s funny, because lightning doesn’t but fireworks does. Why I don’t know. Uh, how long it last? Until it’s over, until I don’t hear it. But I, I, Yeah.
CORI: I jump.
PRINCE: Marie, what about eating again? Eating normally at a table and? Food and?
CORI: I had something that lasted me ‘til today that my group doesn’t know. I have to go with my finger at the end.
PRINCE: Oh, on the plate?
CORI: Even if its, I gotta do it my, I got to do, I uh, I, it’s a habit. My dad would get mad, I can’t, and if I’m in a restaurant it’s embarrassing, but I got to do it.
PRINCE: Does it?
CORI: The last lick. (laughs)
PRINCE: The last lick, yeah.
CORI: And then my fridgedaire has to be full to the milligram. To the, the freezer has to be full. I cannot be without food, even if I throw it up.
PRINCE: Mm-hmm.
CORI: I spend more on food than anything.
PRINCE: Makes you feel secure?
CORI: I don’t know. Yes. Yes. In fact, Brian says, “You have such a joy to watch me eating.” I don’t know why, but I enjoy watching people eating.
PRINCE: You were, you were how old, you were seven and it was, how old were you when the war, when they brought you back home?
CORI: I think ten and a half or ten.
PRINCE: Um, and to be to be clean again?
CORI: I was clean at this point. And I
PRINCE: That’s right. You came home, you were clean. You were clean.
CORI: Yes, yes. But, oh, there was a time, I mean, covered with lice. Covered, covered. They multiply. I had no way to get rid of them.
PRINCE: Did you even, did you…?
CORI: Oh constant scratching. I was so weak, I was so dirty. They would go in my open wounds.
PRINCE: I wish I could just put my arms around you and..
CORI: Nah, it’s over. I still have some after the war, cause I remember my mother taking me to a hospital and they put me sulfer. It hurts, and they scrubbed it. It was horrible. It burns. I had still some that you could. They were so deep infected.
CORI: But I was pretty clean. Believe me how she took me home, that lady, to sleep in the same bed as her daughter, making in bed the lice, the filth. I don’t know how she did it. I don’t know if I could do it.
PRINCE: Were they, like devout Christians? Were they very?
CORI: Very. Oh, yeah. Oh yeah. They were, I think, from Belgium originally. The school was in the Church.
PRINCE: But you don’t remember their names, or anything. Isn’t that remarkable?
CORI: I would do anything to find that man.
PRINCE: I’m sure you would.
CORI: I would.
PRINCE: You know. Its interesting that you were, I don’t know I have the right word, but you went from such deprivation and abuse to to this kinder family.
CORI: Yes.
PRINCE: It’s like a bridge.
CORI: Out of pity.
PRINCE: Yes out of pity, but, and love of ones
CORI: Not all the French are bad. There was some good ones. Or they hated the German more than they hated the Jews, whatever the reason, they saved my life.
PRINCE: But, but it was like a bridge. That you were clean when you went home, you were clean when you left home.
CORI: Yes I was. I was, I was, I if my parents would not be back, I would be a nun today. That’s how religious they made me be. That’s that’s would have been my life.That’s it. And we lost a lot of kids like this, don’t get me wrong.
PRINCE: But, but, even though they probably, you feel they wanted to convert you, that was the only way to save you at that moment.
CORI: But the war was ended, and they didn’t tell you.
PRINCE: And they didn’t tell you. I’m glad I asked that question to make this point.
CORI: No, they continued.
PRINCE: They continued, they continued, Oh.
CORI: No, no, no. You see. So, I’m so sure the man that saved my life for no reason, but a human being.
PRINCE: But what?
CORI: That man.
PRINCE: That man.
CORI: I would do anything to, to see him face. I don’t know.
PRINCE: Was like an angel.
CORI: An angel. An angel. I’m telling you, if he would have been caught I would have been dead. Because it was bad up there. It was dark, there was no light, there was, was nothing. He came with the little flashlight.
PRINCE: So they weren’t feeding you, he was.
CORI: Nobody knew I was there.
PRINCE: Well somebody put you there?
CORI: The sup- the mother Superior with him. I never saw her again.
PRINCE: That’s what I’m saying, she just left you there?
CORI: Yes. She left me, and he’s he took over. He must have worked with the partisan. I don’t know. Very devoted to me, brought me a comb. Do you know what a comb was?
PRINCE: That’s a, a remarkable thing to give somebody because it allows you to become an –
CORI: I, could at least kill a few lice.
PRINCE: But yeah, but inside you’re, you’re,
CORI: I had nothing to do.
PRINCE: Yeah, yeah it’s a normal
CORI: Was black, no watch, no nothing. Complete isolation. Fighting the mice. That was my toy.
PRINCE: But that was, like, beginning to bring you back to life, it was..
CORI: The comb and the cat. He brought me a cat. You know what a cat, oh my God, it was my life.
PRINCE: Did it have name? Did you give it a name?
CORI: I don’t even know what color, it was dark. I lived in pitch darkness. I don’t know the first name. I cannot tell you. But there was some good people.
PRINCE: Could you trust again? I mean, was that a thing for you?
CORI: Can I trust again? Trusted my husband, was wrong. (laughs)
PRINCE: Was wrong… That’s uh,
CORI: Yeah. I, I’m, uh I would say, I’m always ready to escape, somehow. If I sleep it’ll be, I’ll tape the window or the door, I mean I’ll… I’m always ready for a catastrophe. With food, with…
PRINCE: You’re aware.
CORI: I’m aware that things can happen. Overnight.
PRINCE: With good reason.
CORI: Yeah.
PRINCE: Yes. Wow. DO you believe in God, Marie? That’s your business.
CORI: Not really.
PRINCE: Not really?
CORI: No. I could let, all my school. No, I don’t believe.
PRINCE; Would be hard.
CORI: Only when I went to Israel. I, I believed in something. I don’t know I was, so.. It means everything to me.
PRINCE: When you saw their flag?
CORI: When I saw the flag, when I saw our plane, there is a plane, we have a plane. When I saw the man on the street cleaning, a Jew. Everybo- I don’t know, I was reborn there.
PRINCE: And when did you go?
CORI: ‘79, first time. I went back many times, but I always have the same feeling.
PRINCE: Are you tired, would you like to stop?
PRINCE: Okay. Could I ask you, um, when did you come to America?
CORI: ’51. I wanted to go to live in Israel. (Heavy sigh) But my mother, “You went through enough, you would have a rough life there.” She would not let me go. You know. It was not, it was tent living. It was hard work at this time. She wouldn’t let me go. And so, I had a sister in Chicago. My sister, Ida that saved our life. She say, if you wanna go someplace, then go to see your sister. But don’t go to Israel where they gonna force labor you. She had right. You know.
PRINCE: Mm-hmm.
CORI: Anyway, I. But that was not my call. I came here and was very bored. I was very. I thought kids my age, I was sixteen, were very immature. You know. I, I just,
PRINCE: It was tough.
CORI: Yeah, It was tough. I didn’t belong.
CORI: I didn’t belong. My friends were all older people. I couldn’t deal with sixteen year olds. High school and giggling for nothing. I just.
CORI: Yeah.
PRINCE: And you, you certainly weren’t?
CORI: I don’t know they were not, they were like. They not act like sixteen. I thought I acted sixteen. They acted more like ten, eleven.
PRINCE: Well, what you had already done and seen and
CORI: Yeah. But then I met my husband that just came back from Israel. In the Hagannah.
PRINCE: Oh, oh he’d been in a Hagannah?
CORI: And I say, hooo, with him I’m gonna go to Israel. See, never marry for a reason. I mean, it was always Israel in my mind. (pause) Always.
PRINCE: Did you go back?
CORI: I went back, um, his father was born in Jerusalem. After the divorce, no. We had to sell everything.
PRINCE: But did you live there or did you live here?
CORI: I lived here, but I took my grandchildren, you know.
PRINCE: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
CORI: Yeah. That’s it.
PRINCE: That’s it.
CORI: That’s my story.
PRINCE: That’s a…
CORI: And I’m very very content now with my grandchildren they’re very close to me, and um.
PRINCE: Well, we’ll just put Brian’s name on this interview, because…
CORI: Oh that Brian.
PRINCE: I haven’t met him, but I’ve certainly talked to him and..
CORI: I adore him.
CORI: He’s been my support, everything. We more like two friends. He leans on me, and just that I like to gossip and he doesn’t, so.
PRINCE: (laugh) Well I am very greatful to you for allowing me to come in and…
CORI: You never drank your coffee.
PRINCE: Yeah. I’ve been drinking a little bit. I had some at home, but. Um,
CORI: But, I feel for future generation maybe it’s important.
PRINCE: Well, I think it is. I think to give voice to people who have something to say is…
CORI: I went to a school, a high school. I was forced to go to the high school. I mean in fact, I. That day it was snowing, I was so happy I said I’m not going and she picked me up.
PRINCE: Who’s that?
CORI: The teacher.
PRINCE: From, In St. Louis?
CORI: Yes.
PRINCE: Oh. Where did you go to high school. That’s our question?
CORI: To speak.
PRINCE: Oh, you mean to go to speak. Oh.
CORI: oh. Parkway, or no,
CORI: Oh I don’t even know where she took me. But anyway, I thought they were gonna yawn, and I would have been very upset. I didn’t wanna go. I did a, I was, they did me a service. Because a year later, at Schnucks, I met a young man, a young man stops me. He said: “Where do I know you from? Are you a friend of Brian? You went to speak to my class.” And he kept me for an hour and a half at Schnucks, and then I figure, well, it was important.
CORI: You see I was wrong.
PRINCE: I’m so glad you had that experience.
CORI: Yeah. Because I though, ugh, they gonna be so tired of it. Because I know my kids say, “oh, stop it!” They don’t want to hear. So I never speak. You know what I mean?
CORI: It’s over. When they were little. I must, cause I would wake up sometimes with nightmares. But uh,
PRINCE: But its never over is it Marie? It’s really never over.
CORI: (Pause) No. No. For instance, once we went to Eilat, on a tour and the bus hundred people. Ninety-nine were Germans. I thought I was gonna die. I really saw blood coming out of, all the people. Cause young people, it doesn’t do that to me. I froze. I was like, thank God I was in the back. I just froze. And “shane Judenland” they would say. “beautiful Jewish land”. I couldn’t wait to get out of the bus. A very odd feeling.
CORI: Very. And drinking and drinking.
PRINCE: And it’s hard for people.
CORI: I saw blood coming out of their hands. I couldn’t get that blood away from that finger. Every one of them.
PRINCE: And nobody can really understand what…
CORI: I never got very quiet, no. No, I didn’t even tell my husband. I just, I saw blood dripping.
CORI: He must have killed us. He must have, I, that’s when the flashback came back. A lot. On that bus. I thought I was going, ‘til today, I cannot go to a carwash. I can’t go inside. I can’t. I don’t know what it does to me, that Jet. I feel like its gas. And my grandson takes the car. I can’t go. Just, I, I, I can’t. I did it once with somebody and I freaked out.
PRINCE: That would be
CORI: I, I don’t know what it does.
CORI: Why?
PRINCE: Because, Because. Either you confined in the attic.
CORI: I don’t know.
PRINCE: Maybe the attic, thing. You know? I mean it
CORI: I don’t know why.
PRINCE: It doesn’t matter, if it bothers you, it’s touching something.
CORI: Right.
PRINCE: That happens.
CORI: Now, like at Halloween with the straw and the pumpkins. I don’t go.
CORI: I feel like mice are gonna come out of that.
CORI: Or rats, I’m polite when I say mice.
PRINCE: Yeah, no I can understand. I mean, I know, I can hear what you’re saying. You had enough things happen to you that…
CORI: But then, people had it much worse.
PRINCE: Well, yes, but that doesn’t – it doesn’t really. That people had something worse, doesn’t really have anything to…
[End of Tape I]
CORI: Cause none of my group, not one that is of the whole family.
PRINCE: Well it is amazing. So you feel lucky you said?
CORI: Lucky and it’s like you know. They have it so much worse.
PRINCE: Yeah, I, I said this off the tape, but I, I I’m sorry that I
CORI: No, I repeat it. I’m repeating it.
PRINCE: Yeah, but I’m sorry that I said about comparing pains.
CORI: Yeah, No, each one of them have the pain. Different pains, but the same pain. Um, it’s a comfort to be with them, every one of them. Although we each have our own lives, at that moment when we meet, it’s like, it’s a good feeling. We don’t have any men, the men all don’t want to go and men were not survivors because of the circumcision. Girls were easier to hide then the boy.
PRINCE: Oh, that’s something.
CORI: Yeah
PRINCE: That one wouldn’t think about, but it’s true.
CORI: Yeah. Cause in France, nobody was circumcised. Only Muslims and Jews. And so that was easy.
CORI: You couldn’t say “I’m a gentile, here’s my butt” They take down your pants, that’s it. But we, blondes, we could get away with it. I was ver- I was platinum blonde, I was very blonde.
PRINCE: Where were your sisters?
CORI: Uh, Ida and Rachel were in Moissac, the L’O.S.E. placed them there. To farms, to help with the farms.
PRINCE: Mm-hmm.
CORI: Ida was like a minute from being caught. A doctor and his wife and a baby, took seven girls in a little village. All Jews. My sister was walking, she went to the camp to see my father, in Setfond, you could visit there. It’s in the same region.
PRINCE: Labor camp?
CORI: And she turned the corner, and it was too late. They were all on the trucks, and like twenty Germans. And he say, “Who’s this?” And the Doctor say “That’s the girl that has the baby.” And they took the baby off the truck and give it to my sister and let my sister go.
CORI: They were all killed. The doctor is the only one that came back because he was a doctor. They were all d- all gone. And my sister, I mean by a second.
CORI: And the baby in her arm, I don’t know what she did with it. She was fourteen, fifteen.
PRINCE: Mm-hmm.
CORI: Or she’s the maid and that’s a baby. And took the baby from the mother and gave it to my sister. And this the daughter survived, it was a little girl.
PRINCE: What was the relationship between the two children that were born after the war and the children that went through so much?
CORI: Okay. Actually, Ginette was born right before the war. My father and my mother must have met in the forest because she was born before ’45. So she was born like five months before the war ended. So she was born when I came back, she was a beauty. Uh, I was like, she was like a doll. Ginette was born, they put her in an orphanage. She was found in an orphanage, also filthy, neglected, and everything. She doesn’t remember anything, but my parents do. How lucky they have – they found Ginette. With no name, with no… L’O.S.E. did a job that was unbelievable.
PRINCE: It seems amazing.
CORI: Unbelievable under the circumstances.
PRINCE: Well even that your father and mother found each other.
CORI: Oh. My mother, when we got hidden with the L’O.S.E, was not far from Setfond. I remember like, around, before we went to the castle, we went to that village. I remember cause I went to that camp, outside and we saw the trucks and people tearing up their shirts, you know, they – that would take them to the , to the trucks. I remember that, uh, they were tearing up like somebody dies, you know, we got to tear something. I remember this with the flashlights, with the, uh…
PRINCE: You mean people were tearing their own clothes?
CORI: Oh yes.
PRINCE: Because people were being taken away? Is that what you’re telling me.
CORI: The people that were going on the trucks to be gassed, they were screaming, and you could- I, I remember this. They were tearing up their clothes. Um, They knew it was the end. So, I remember that we, because the people form the camp used to give us food. I remember… Cause it was, we were an inspiration to those guys. If they’re alive, maybe ours are alive. We give them inspiration. So they would, I could see the eyes, the, the, they were happy to see us. We couldn’t go inside, we were outside. But our village was not far, walking distance, we used to go. And one night, we saw when they were taking to the trucks and uh, I mean, we – I’m not talking a truck, I’m talking fifteen, twenty trucks. And then, well, I just mad. Just, they were… It’s a lot of com, co-, how do you say? – noise and I remember being frightened. Uh, very noisy, uh, and lights going back and forth and a lot of stuff like that.
PRINCE: Chaos.
CORI: Chaos, yeah. I couldn’t find the word.
CORI: Yeah.
PRINCE: More than chaos.
CORI: Yeah, it was like, I don’t know.
CORI: Hell, yeah.
PRINCE: Like you would think hell would be?
CORI: Yeah. Like what’s going on? I remember telling my mother, let’s talk. You know? I was- we were afraid they were gonna take us too, find us. Because there were lights going from all over. See if somebody escapes, whatever.
CORI: But they would give us food, over the…
PRINCE: Mm-hmm
CORI: All the men would give a piece of bread, it was good.
PRINCE: So your whole family came here?
CORI: No, I’m the only one. My sister, Ida, died.
PRINCE: No, but they, but were your, was your family in this country?
PRINCE: No. Just you?
CORI: No. Just me and my sister, Ida. In Chicago. Now I, my whole family’s in Paris.
PRINCE: And did you go back to see your mother and father?
CORI: When?
PRINCE: After you came here?
CORI: Oh. Even on credit card, but I went. Money or no money, I went every year.
PRINCE: How long did they live?
CORI: Uh, my dad was seventy-nine, my mother seventy-eight. And my sister died at sixty-four, the other one sixty-four, my brother sixty-two, my little brother. That’s a good looking guy.
PRINCE: Where’s your little one?
CORI: But, the one you see here.
PRINCE: Oh here, yeah.
CORI: Just passed away two years ago. Lung cancer. Oh what you see black is my ex-husband, I don’t want to see him anymore.
PRINCE: Oh, get rid of him [laughs].
CORI: [laughs] Yeah. I’ll black him out, that’s, yeah.
PRINCE: Alright.
CORI: But, uh, that’s it.
PRINCE: Thank you, Marie.
CORI: So what you do with that story…
PRINCE: What are we gonna do with it? We will…
CORI: Like in the archives?
PRINCE: Transcribe it. And we hope to, um, uh, well, actually part of the things we’ve done now, we have an audio tour where people put on the headphones and go through the museum, and we’ve used excerpts of these stories.
CORI: Really?
PRINCE: We hope either to make a book someday, or put it in a, some kind of documentary. But basically, we’re just gathering information for people’s voices to be heard, because it did happen as you say.
CORI: Yeah. We were once alive. But you know, I just lent that book to one of the group, because my brother gave me a book of all letters of children that were hidden in France. And I swear, every letter, I thought it was me.
PRINCE: Oh, sure.
CORI: And I said, Liesel, you gotta read this because you’re gonna recognize yourself. And she says, “Oh my God”. And I said then give it to Felicia, because Felicia is fluent in French.
PRINCE: Right.
CORI: She’s very educated.
PRINCE: I just read, when I was getting ready to do this with you. I, I came across a book in my own library, called um, “Memory Fields” by Shlomo Breznitz.
CORI: I don’t think I read it. I read it.
PRINCE: It’s a wonderfully written story…
CORI: From France?
PRINCE: Mm-hmm. Um, no, from Chechoslavakia.
CORI: That is the same thing.
PRINCE: But, but, interesting.
CORI: Yeah.
PRINCE: Thank you, Marie.
CORI: You’re Welcome.
PRINCE: Thank you very much.
CORI: You’re welcome.

Tape 2 - Side 1

CORI: We went back, we made a pilgrage? Pilgram? Pilgramge?
PRINCE: Pilgramage?
CORI: Yeah. To the Chateau. And we understood where it was located. It was between a forest, and you couldn’t see it til you hit it. You, We couldn’t see even a block away. That’s how hidden it is.
CORI: And uh, I expected to see that Grandeaur that I remember in my mind. It’s a little Chateau. And, and, they’re raising horses now, for children. And she told me, she said a few people coming back to see the Chateau, and I should put my name in case somebody, and your address, because she says you know people are looking for each other. It’s an unbelievable memory.
PRINCE: Well, that’s nice you took Brian you said.
CORI: I took Brian.
CORI: I couldn’t remember my little brother was like three, four. Says this was the dining room, this was this, this is where we planted tomatoes. I didn’t remember any of – I mean, I was just, my God, how small it is. I thought it was the stairs like this – it was so pretty. In my mind, you see everything big.
CORI: I went back to Lourdes , also, where the nun took me. I never found where I was.
PRINCE: You mean the?
CORI: I never found the place.
PRINCE: The nunnery, you mean? I mean the uh, the uh?
CORI: Yeah.
PRINCE: where they kept you?
CORI: So many orphanages, I don’t know where I was. But I remember the grotto, and what we did every day, you know, the church and the people with the, the, the going there for the healing process, and where Bernadette was. That I remember. But where was it here, yeah, can’t remember.
PRINCE: So many little places like that?
CORI: Couldn’t remember. But I remember seeing a big – when she took me to the hospital, there was a river by the hospital. And I remember big, big bridge. The bridge as as big as that table. Amazing.
PRINCE: It is amazing, alright.

Listen to Marie's Story