‘The Marcel Network’ breaks historic ground, and reveals how in France the Catholic Church, Protestants and Jews, acting together, did far more to save Jewish lives during the Holocaust than is generally known.
Syrian immigrant Moussa Abadi, a doctoral student in theater history, and his future wife, Odette Rosenstock, a recent physician, found themselves trapped in Nazi-occupied France. Like thousands of other Jews , they sought refuge in Nice, then still unoccupied but ruled by the collaborationist French government in Vichy. This regime was replaced in November 1942 by an Italian occupation - relarively benign to Jews. Ten months later, September 1943, upon Italy’s capitulation to the Allies, the departing Italians troops were replaced virtually overnight by German forces, spearheaded by Gestapo units with sole mission to capture Jews.
Anticipating such an evolution, the young Jewish couple had prepared the ground for an operation to rescue Jewish children, preeminently winning a considerable participation from the Catholic Church in the person of the Bishop of Nice, and from two local Protestant pastors. By their collective efforts, they managed to hide or provide critical material support to children at risk, for a total of 527.
Risking their own lives and the lives of their associates, and living an underground existence, the Abadis placed Jewish children in Catholic boarding schools and convents and with Protestant families. By Liberation in late summer of 1944, their clandestine organization -- the Marcel Network, named after Moussa’s cover name—had become one of the most remarkable operations of Jewish-led resistance in Europe. But the Abadis’ improbable success, owing largely to extraordinary interfaith collaboration, came with almost unspeakable sacrifice – Odette’s arrest and deportation to a death camp, from which she miraculously survived.
Fred Coleman tells the Abadis' full story for the first time in The Marcel Network.
Light reception and book signing to follow.
This event is hosted by the Department of French and co-sponsored by the Program for Jewish Civilization, Campus Ministries, and the BMW Center for German and European Studies.