But who is Ita Malka?
Once upon a time in a beautiful orange kitchen from the early 80′s, were sitting a grandma and her little daughter. The little girl didn’t want to eat. She claimed for a story instead. Please tell me the one when you cross the demarcation line. You have to know that the little girl knew the story by heart. But it did not matter it was a really good story. So says the gradma: “i had to take off my yellow david star from my coat when i was on this train taking me to Vierzon. Then I met the lady that helped me cross over the line. It was a dark night and the german soldiers were up on the bridge. We had to be careful and quiet because each moves could cost both our lives. But what happened, asked the little girl? We managed it and when i was on the other side of the bridge i cried , i couldn’t stop.
But where were you going to? the little girl asked. To Avignon, into the free zone to meet your great great grand father who had managed the journey. And then I met your grand father, I fell in love with him and I could eat jams a lot thanks to his mum. Is that what love means? Eating jams? asked the little girl. The grand mother laughed and said ” you know we had nothing to eat at this time so everything was good”.
But where was your mum? the little girl asked. Why were you on her own at 18 dealing with such “tsoures” (problems in yiddish).
Finish your dish answered the grandma . I tell you later the story of Ita Malka, your great great grand mother.
Ita Malka means little queen in yiddish .
You came from a little sthetl (village in yiddish) from Poland. You got married, went to Paris to meet your husband who was a shoe maker near the Buttes Chaumont. He and his 7 brothers enrolled in the French army even though they were not French. I saw the pictures in their uniforms so many times and their smiles on their faces. Little did they know….they were so proud to be part of this beautiful country which symbolized freedom.
So on this 16th of july 1942, the French parisian buses came at the door of the building of Ita Malka and my grand mother. Ita Malka husband’s was hiding at a customer’s place because they had been told of the coming raid. They thought nothing could happen to women and children. How wrong they were!
So my grand mother who was a pretty young French girl of 18 saw her little queen arrested by the French policemen. She saw her neighbours too, and the little children of the neighbours get into the buses. She remembered telling one of them: ” Leave me your child , I’ll take good care of her” but the woman said no. She remembered climbing the stairs crying back to the empty appartment and one of her neighbours whose husband had just been taken away telling her: ” it is sad for many but some of these jews deserved it “.
Ita Malka was taken to the Vel d’hiv ( a big stadium for biking races in the 15th district of Paris, really chic!), then she was sent to Drancy (a subburb which is still there), then she took the train to Auschwitz Birkenau to go into the air….
You think the story is over. You are wrong. The little girl is now a teenager and she asked another question: “Why did you have to wait for 2 more years to marry your beloved? I was waiting for the return of Ita Malka.”
In 2002, the Memorial of The Shoah ( www.memorialdelashoah.org) created the wall of the names. I was so excited!!!! Finally there will be a place to remember her. I looked at the letter S. I found out like 10 people with the exact same name but not Ita Malka. Finally, i found her at the end of the wall, her name was not correctly written. I asked my grandma but who is Marcel 5 years, Helen,…. and the others : are they family? Yes they are. So that ‘s how i met my unknown family.
During these years my grandma had some issues. When she was upset she went into hysterical crises and yelled : “They took my mum, they took my mum…” I always remember her doing that.
So wars do not end like this. Unfortunately, it goes on and on with suffering despite somebody says : “1st War 1914-1918, 2nd War 1939-1945…”
In my grandma’s heart and mind there is still the suffering of the absence of Ita Malka.
My grandma now has got the Alzheimer disease, but she still recognizes us. Yesterday I spoke with her in Yiddish! That was fun, she didn’t understand my bissele Yiddish!
Ita Malka, you are not only on the wall, you are in my heart, in my thoughts, in my learning Yiddish today, in my cooking eastern ashkenazi recipes. You are with me when i write, when I danse, when i go to concerts, when I share hip hop music like Socalled, Kabbalah, Jewddyssee, Les Yeux Noirs, Watcha Clan and so many other groups with my 89 years old granny! I’m not searching you in the past, you are in the present with me and the other people who are smiling, making babies, telling their partners how much they love each other. You are with me when I met an indian yoga guru, you are with me when i’m invited by an unkown loubavitch family for shabbes, you are with me when i learn to make hallot with my aunt, you are with me when I go to a Laetitia Dana concert, you are with me when I travel like you did when you went to Poland to Paris.
I am looking for you in happiness and love. And I’m thankful to you when you took the decision to have a better life. I’m the fourth generation of immigrants: I’m an independant, educated self woman. And I owe it to you.
To finish this beautiful story in music let’s dance with Kabbalah ( a great band from Marseille and some other places) !
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