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Colombe Papo

Colombe's ancestors fled Spain in 1492 during the Spanish Inquisition. After a few hundred years her family settled in Turkey- in Edirne- right on the border of Greece. Colombe's parents spoke Ladino and French in the home and initially the children were sent to Catholic French speaking schools in Istanbul, Turkey.

At one of these schools, Colombe's cousin was converted to Catholicism and then disappeared into a convent in Hungary. Her distraught father went to court in Hungary and during his testimony he feigned fainting and his daughter rushed across the chamber to be at his side. The next day the father and daughter reestablished their relationship and returned together to Istanbul (where she later married a Jew but remained a Catholic). As a result of this, Colombe's mother decided to send Colombe to a boarding school close to Paris in St-Germain-en-Laye where she learned how to speak Italian.

In 1919, Colombe's parents moved to Milan to open a silk factory. The family had been in that business for several generations in Turkey and Greece. Colombe's father and his two brothers resided in a hotel that they had purchased called the Grand Hotel of Milan. Famous people like Mussolini, and the King of Romania were visiting guests.

In 1924 Colombe Papo married Elie Mayorkas (Sivan, Yona and Evie's great grandparents) at the hotel.

Elie and Colombe then moved to Trieste, Italy and Elie went into the import/export business. They stayed in Trieste for seven years. The Great Depression had reached Trieste leading to the collapse of his business. They then decided to move to Paris where they had some cousins and the family owned a small hotel. There they had two girls, Evelyne in 1933 and Dinah in 1937.

On June 14, 1940 the Germans occupied Paris and just a few months later the Vichy regime passed a set of anti-Jewish laws. Colombe was determined to escape Paris with her young girls. She decided to leave for the south of France taking her two girls to the border between occupied France and the free zone. She paid a smuggler to get her across the border. Her husband Elie stayed behind in Paris so that he could continue working. Colombe lived in Cannes, France.

Elie abruptly fled Paris in 1941 when he heard the sound of Nazis rounding up Jews on his street. Elie was able to hide on his roof during his building's roundup and then later that night took a small bag and paid smugglers to get him across the border to join his wife and girls.

In November 1942 the free zone was no longer free. As Jews, they could be arrested at any time even in the south of France.

Colombe became pregnant with her third child, Jacqueline Wadler ( Sivan, Yona and Evie's grandmother). Worse than having young children, was having a baby. When Colombe gave birth to Jacqueline the doctor connected her to an Italian woman who would take care of the baby - for a fee.

Colombe survived in Vichy France with forged identity papers supplied by her brother Albert who was a member of the French Resistance.

Albert would tell his sister when arrests were going to be made and which streets would be searched on any given day. Every few days Colombe changed rooms. Colombe survived the war with her husband Elie and her three daughters. She had a son Jacques in October, 1945 after the war ended.

Colombe came from a family of five children. She and her older brother were the only survivors. Her brother survived because his catholic girlfriend hid him in a fishing boat. The three other siblings, Albert, Doni and Annette were murdered.

In Paris, Jacqueline watched her three siblings marry non Jews and saw how distraught her mother was to have lost three siblings and a nephew during the war. Jacqueline was determined to marry a Jew. She came to America and soon met Lenny Wadler. They have two children, Jacques and Aleeza, and our proud to have three grandchildren