Saving the Children, (Souvont les enfants)

A film by Caterine Bernstein & Geogory Celeste

An unknown story about brave simple railway men from Lyle France, that saved children from deportation to Auschwitz. September 11, 1942 It was Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, the families were gathering for the holiday and they were rounded up at the train station. The rail-workers at Lille saved over 40 children from deportation & certain death in Auschwitz. It is unique story, never heard before, of an unorganized operation of workers in the train station that in spontaneous ways saved the kids.

The Jews of northern France were arrested at dawn on September 11, 1942. It was the Jewish New-Year, and the families were gathered for the holiday. The German authorities arrested Polish Jews and their children from Lille, Lens, Douai and Valenciennes. They packed the Jews into a train station at Fives-Lille. Horrified by this unusual operation, 25 railroad workers spontaneously decided to help as many people as possible from being deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The railroad workers helped find locals to hide the Jews, most of them children - saving forty lives from certain death. They hid them until the end of the war. This rescue operation is one of the most impressive, yet lesser-known during the Holocaust.

The rescued children never imagined that they were part of the Final Solution - destined to be gassed and turned into dust.

None of the railroad workers' families ever heard of this act on September 11, 1942. Their fathers never thought to mention that they saved lives - they thought helping those in need was what a person does.

Uncovering this story - that would've otherwise gone untold - took several years. Documents that were scattered across official and personal archives were dug up. The train station was reconstructed piece-by-piece as a model railway station to give us a precise and captivating visual perspective of what happened on September 11, 1942.

The children that were saved are now in their 90's. This was one of the last chance for victims of the Holocaust to tell their stories that will soon vanish from our world.


Best Documentary 2022 from Historia Magazine
Best Documentary from the Union of Film Critic

University/College Libraries:

University of Chicago

About the Film

64 minutes
French & subtitles English

Director: Caterine Bernstein & Geogory Celeste
Producers: Michal Rotman & Marie Renc
Editor: Baptiste Dizier



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