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Elisabeth Borne, daughter of a resistance fighter who survived Auschwitz

The new Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, had a childhood marked by the suicide of her father in 1972, a former deportee, when she was only 11 years old. Born Bornstein, Joseph Borne, a former resistance fighter of Polish origin, experienced hell in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

Discreet about her private life, the new Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne is just as discreet about her family heritage marked by the Second World War. His father Joseph, a Jewish resistant, was deported in 1944 to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Released in 1945, he will remain deeply marked. Joseph Borne will commit suicide when his daughter was only 11 years old.

“It hasn’t always been easy. I lost my father when I was very young. And so we ended up with my mother, who had two daughters and who didn’t have too much income”, had -she told modestly without going into details, during an interview in 2021 on the C8 channel.

His family has its roots in Poland. His grandfather Zelig, who died in the camps along with two of his sons, fled anti-Semitism in the 1920s to settle in Belgium, where he found work with a diamond dealer. Joseph was born in Antwerp in 1925 under the name of Bornstein. He is part of a family of four boys, Léon born in 1921, Isaac in 1923 and Albert in 1930.

When the Second World War broke out, the family had to go into exile again and took refuge in the south of France, in Toulouse, Montauban, then in Nîmes. The mother Anna then dies at only 36 years old.


Entry into resistance

In August 1942, Joseph and his brother Isaac were arrested for the first time as stateless Jews and taken to the Rivesaltes camp. “Zelig goes to Rivesaltes and manages to bribe a guard, who lets Isaac and Joseph ‘escape’. They return to Nîmes at the end of 1942 and decide to join the resistance”, explained to the site Cultea Jean-Paul Boré , vice-president of the Friends of the Foundation for the memory of the deportation from Gard. In the meantime, Leon has also been arrested. He will be deported by convoy 51, on March 6, 1943; in the direction of Sobibor, where he is assassinated.

The three Bornstein brothers then call themselves Borne. Their mission is to transport men and women from Grenoble to the Biques maquis, in the Tarn, led by the founder of the Jewish Combat Organization, a Jewish resistance movement, Abraham Polonski, as the magazine Le Point.

But on December 24, 1943, the father and his three sons, Joseph, Isaac and Albert, were arrested in Grenoble by the Gestapo. “We had false papers, when the police entered the apartment at ten o’clock in the evening, they made us lower our pants. (…) They wanted Jews. They absolutely wanted people to denounce the others. And from there, we also suffered what is called the bathtub at that time. It’s a board, we tipped it in the water. A very, very hard interrogation, “said Isaac during the interview. an interview for Ina.

“The ashes flew there”

The family is transferred to Drancy, before being deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau by convoy 66 on January 20, 1944. They discover hell there. “There were rows of SS and Sonderkommando people, dogs, and the howling: ‘Raus, raus, raus’. […] we had to get out quickly. There was already snow. And that’s where my brother Joseph and I were selected,” Isaac described. Zelig and Albert were taken directly to the gas chamber.

Joseph and Isaac leave to work for the Buna-Monowitz camp or Auschwitz III, one of the three large camps of the concentration camp complex: “When we arrived at the Bunawerk, which is three kilometers from Auschwitz, the ashes were flying all the way there. When it was windy, the chimneys were burning, it smelled bad everywhere. And the elders, the elders who were in the camp would tell us at that time: ‘You see, that’s your parents who’ go to heaven. They burn'”.

For a year, the Borne brothers managed to survive thanks, in particular, to their spirit of solidarity, according to Isaac: “We always shared everything, him with me and me with him because I watched him like milk on the fire” . Faced with the advance of the Red Army, they were evacuated in January 1945, further west, to the Buchenwald camp where they were liberated by the Americans on April 11, 1945.

Upon their return to France, as the Midi Libre newspaper tells, Isaac reunites with Odette, a young woman he had met in Nice, while Joseph recovers his health in Calvados, where he meets Marguerite Lescene, a pharmacist. He converts to Christianity to marry her. They will have two daughters, including Elisabeth born in 1961.


But the sufferings of the deportation do not leave him. According to his brother, he couldn’t bear to talk about it. In 1972, at the age of only 47, he committed suicide by defenestrating himself. Even if the reasons for this gesture are not known, for Isaac, he suffered from a certain guilt after having lost his father and two of his brothers in the camps: “Guilty of what? We don’t always know. But I believe that each person, at the death of his family, always says to himself, even today: ‘we should have, if I had known…'”.

The young Elisabeth then became a pupil of the Nation and managed to pursue brilliant studies. In 2015, during an interview with Liberation, she confided that she had thought of him a lot when, having become prefect, she had given a citizen her naturalization decree for the first time: “That I, the daughter of this stateless refugee, who was French only in 1950, I make this gesture, it said something about integration”.



France 24-Trans

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