Sabine Zlatin was the founder and superintendent of the Izieu children's home and the founder-president of the Musée-mémorial des enfants d'Izieu. She died on September 21st, 1996, at the age of 89.
Sabine Chwast was born in Warsaw in 1907. She came from a Jewish family. As a young woman, she left her family to reach France where she met and eventually married Miron Zlatin, an agronomy student based in Nancy. After their wedding, the couple ran a poultry farm in the town of Landas, in the North of France. In 1939, they became French citizens.
When war broke out, Sabine Zlatin registered to train with the Red Cross as a military nurse. Faced with the German army's advance, the couple decided to move to Montpellier. There, Sabine Zlatin was posted to a military hospital from which she was forced to leave in 1941, due to racist laws issued by the Vichy government.
At the prefecture of Hérault, she was advised to get in contact with the Oeuvre de secours aux enfants (OSE), a Jewish children aid association. She organized the rescuing of children who were internees in the camps of Agde and Rivesaltes. A number of children were released through her care.
In 1943, with the German occupation of the French zone, the Zlatin, bringing with them seventeen children, sought refuge in the Italian zone. They were given a recommendation for the sub-prefect of Belley, who put a house at their disposal in Izieu. There, the couple founded the Hérault refugee children's home.
Sabine was temporarily away from Izieu when Klaus Barbie and the Nazi soldiers took the children away to their deaths but she lived to testify against Barbie when he was tried in 1987. And Klaus Barbie was found guilty of crimes against humanity.
Soon after the trial, an association was created, on Sabine Zlatin's initiative, with the aim of perpetuating the memory of the Izieu tragedy and turning the children's home into a memorial museum. Founder members from all backgrounds resolved to purchase the house which sheltered the Izieu children's home and turn it into a museum about these Jewish children and about crime against humanity.
François Mitterrand, President of the French Republic at the time, included this project in the "Grands travaux". On April 4th, 1994, he formally opened the museum in the presence of a number of personalities, including Jacques Chirac.
Two buildings are open to visitors. The house which was home to the Izieu children and the adults in charge of them perpetuates their memory. In the adjacent converted farm building, the historical background of that day's events is presented.
The Museum is located 60 miles from Lyon in the Rhone Valley. Visiting hours change according to the time of the year.
I recommend the books:
French Children of the Holocaust: A Memorial
, by Serge Klarsfeld. New York University Press. 1,904 pp. 2,500 photographs.
The Children of Izieu: A Human Tragedy
, by Serge Klarsfeld. New York, Abrams 1984
Musee Memorial des Enfants d’Izieu - www.izieu.alma.fr
The Simon Wiesenthal Center - www.wiesenthal.com