First Presbyterian Church in Russellville will be hosting the second their “Series on Religious Literacy” event this weekend at the church located at 159 West 6th Street.
Pastor Tom Thompson would like to invite the public to come and take part in the first discussion on Saturday, Aug. 5 at 2 p.m. The speaker will be Frances Cutler-Hahn, a Jewish Holocaust survivor who survived as a hidden child in France during World War II. She will be talking about being Jewish, concentration camps, the French Resistance, Nazi Germany and the occupation of France.
“I remember most being jealous and resentful that I was not part of a family,” Cutler-Hahn said. Growing up in various foster homes, she was often seated away from the host family’s birth children; never sharing in the joys of dinner table laughter, toys and treats. She longed for familiarity and security – and mostly for the mother she barely remembered.
Frances has had two religions, five names, seven homes and eight families – all tools for survival for a hidden child in the Holocaust. The children (and their hosts) lived in constant danger. Many never saw their birth families again.
Frances’s parents, Cyla and Shlomo, immigrated to France from Ciechanow, Poland, in 1936. Frances was born in Paris amid the turmoil of the German invasion. Worried that she could not protect her daughter, Cyla brought 3-year-old “Fanny” to a Catholic children’s home, where she could visit her weekly. Cyla was deported to Auschwitz in 1942, where she died, pregnant with Frances’s only sibling. After that, Frances was taken to a Catholic farm to prevent her deportation. Shlomo joined the French Resistance and died from combat wounds in 1946.
In 1948, Frances came to live with her aunt and uncle in America. Even though she became an American citizen in 1953, her Polish roots and French upbringing made it difficult for her to feel at home anywhere. A trip to France in 1978 began the healing process, although, she says it took a long time and a lot of work to let it go.
She recently published a book in collaboration with other hidden children.
The event Saturday at 2 p.m. is free to the public. A reception will be held in the church fellowship hall following the discussion.
To contact OJ Stapleton, email email@example.com or call 270-726-8394.