Her father’s family
Véronique Dubois seldom saw her father Walter Stern. She knew next to nothing about his past and his family. After sending an inquiry to the International Tracing Service (ITS) in 2011, she received extensive information about her paternal relatives. As Jewish Germans many of them had been deported and murdered. Now she is writing a book about her family’s history.
On 12 July 2016 Veronique Dubois visited the ITS in Bad Arolsen to see the original documents and meet the ITS staff member who had been of such help to her in her research: “I was determined to come here and thank the staff member personally”, Dubois said. “The search through the documents was so important for me. Now I know what happened to my father’s family. Meeting the ITS staff member who was able to answer all my questions means a lot to me.” During her visit to the ITS Dubois also viewed the Central Name Index (CNI) – the key to the ITS archive. “This memorial to all these fates, many of them unknown, is very moving”, the educator from Paris said. There are some 50 million index cards on approx. 17.5 million individual fates in the CNI – among them are some bearing the names of her family members.
Childhood in France
Dubois’ mother was a French Evangelical from Paris, her father a German Jew from Stuttgart, born in November 1900. He migrated to England in 1936. Dubois’ parents met during a holiday in Italy in the summer of 1959. In the spring of 1960 Véronique and her twin sister Martine were born. At that time her father already had another family he shared his life with in London. The twins spent their childhood in a foster family that the public welfare office had found for them; their single working mother visited them there every Saturday, and during the summer holidays the girls stayed with their mother. Once a year Walter, the father, came to see his daughters for one afternoon – always accompanied by their trilingual mother who translated for him.
The father died when the twin sisters were17 years old. The two girls never had the opportunity to ask him about his family. The only reliable information her mother told Veronica about her father was that he was originally from southern Germany, her guess being that he was Jewish – but the father had never spoken with her about his family or the reason for his emigration.
Searching for traces for the book project
When she was a young adult Véronique travelled to London to learn more about her family. There she tried contacting an elder half-brother; who refused to meet with her, though. After several years she started another search for information on her family history, and, in 2009 and 2010, she sent inquiries to the ITS. From the center she learned not only about her uncle and her cousin whom the Nazis deported to and murdered in Auschwitz and Izbica, but also about the fate of her great-aunt. She had been murdered in1940 as a psychiatric patient, having fallen victim to the so-called T4-Aktion in Grafeneck.
Véronique Dubois is writing her book with the support of three women from the Writer’s Workshop of the Association “Écoute, Mémoire, Histoire” (EMH) of the French Children’s Aid Society (Oeuvre de secours aux enfants): Fabienne Amson, head of the agency, together with staff members Elena Adam and Gladys Patron. In her book Dubois describes her childhood in France, and talks about the lengthy search and her father’s family. Her publication is intended to commemorate her relatives and record the story of her family for the coming generation.