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Vera Laroche (Lewin, Levin) (1912 -- ca 1980) | Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

Name: Vera Laroche (Lewin, Levin) (1912 -- ca 1980)


Historical Note:

Vera Laroche (born Vera Lewin) was born on 19 February 1912 in Berlin. Her father Berthold Levin was a well-acclaimed architect specializing in designing of exteriors and interiors for the stores. He also owned a Neon Lights Factory. The name of the family firm was I. Kaufman. Vera’s mother name was Lotti (born Lotti Kaul).

Vera’s recalls her childhood as a trouble-free time, full of parental care and fulfillments. “I was the only child and have always been given the best education, as my parents were financially well off. I had private tutors for foreign languages in order to give me the opportunity to travel with my parents to all parts of the world and to be able to study foreign people and their customs. A well balanced diet took care of my excellent health and also all kinds of sports like tennis, golf, swimming and especially horseback riding as I owned a horse.”

In 1918 Vera began attending Viktoria School in Berlin. In 1926, she transferred to Eichkamp School in the forest.

In 1931 Vera graduated (Graduation-Abiturium) and entered Freidrich-Wilhelm University to study dentistry.

In 1933, the Nazi regime forced her to leave the university. Vera began to write articles for a newspaper, although this did not last long. Anti-Jewish measures penetrated all spheres of German public life.

In 1935, Vera Laroche emigrated to Sweden and settled in Stockholm. Her parents also planned emigration to Sweden.

Life in Sweden was difficult: no permanent job, food shortage and separation from the parents. Vera Laroche decides to leave Sweden for France.

In 1936, Vera Laroche settled in Paris. She could not obtain employment without a work-permit. French authorities limited issuance of work-permits to minimum because of enormous influx of refugees.

Vera Laroche recalls: “I could have been able obtain a permit through special channels; but, being not willing to give up either my principles nor my ideals, I had to make a living without such a permit what was extremely dangerous.”

She continues: “I managed to make some money by night. I went with ties and stockings from one night club to another. At that time I started suffering from violent head-aches and dizzy symptoms, and often my head felt so strangely light, that I had to sit down right away.”

In 1937, Vera Laroche received recommendations from Stockholm. In addition with the intervention in the case of the French Prime Minister Léon Blum and the author and artist: Pau Faure she was granted a work-permit. Since then Vera Laroche began her career in French motion pictures. Overall, she received small parts, although castings were successful.

When the Second World War broke out in 1939, the Jewish refugees were placed in internment camps. Vera and her finance were interned in such camps. Vera Laroche found herself in the camp de Gurs.

In 1940, Vera and her fiancé managed to flee from the camps before the German took over. Wondering from place to place they stopped for a while in Marseilles. They undertook efforts for immigration to the USA, for what they registered in 1938. The immigration plans did not work out. On the contrary, the Vichy government issued a registration order with regard to all foreign refugees and the direct danger of being transferred under the German jurisdiction had become a reality.

Vera and her fiancé continued living clandestinely in Marseilles hiding from the Vichy police. Vera reached Paris to see the American consulate’s officials. On her way back she was arrested by the Vichy police. After transfer from prison to prison, she was jailed in Marseille. In 1940, Vera Laroche was transferred to Algiers by the Vichy authorities. It was almost a year before they took her to the court. As she learned later, the Vichy government held refugees like as hostages for the French prisoners in Germany.

In 1942, all prisoners of German origin were transferred under the Gestapo authority. Vera’s fiancé committed suicide. She was taken to Paris by the Gestapo. Vera Laroche escaped from the Gestapo custody by jumping out of the window.

In 1942, Vera Laroche learned that her parents were deported from Germany to Poland and killed there.

Vera Laroche survived under German occupation. It was a German officer, Major B. who continued to protect and help her almost to the end of the war. It was him who arranged her escape from the Gestapo custody. He hid her in the French hotels confiscated by the German authorities.

There were also other people who helped Vera Laroche survived the war. In this regard Vera speaks about Helga T., a German dentist from Bavaria, Dr. Wild. Once Vera and Helga were arrested for black-marketeering but since they denied everything, the Gestapo unexpectedly released them.

Towards the end of the German occupation of Paris, the searches even in the German-controlled hotel became a routine. Vera’s protector, the German Major warned her and Helga of the imminent danger. He also offered Vera a Spanish passport which she refused to utilize without Helga. However the Major find a mutually acceptable solution for Vera and Helga. Someone, Mr. St. a German presented themselves as their father and sheltered them. He, himself was not safe enough and German police arrested him for being the French Resistance sympathizer.

After the Germans retreated from France, Vera and Helga were arrested by F.F.I. (French Forces of the Interior). They were suspected to be Nazis or at least living under the Nazi patronage. They face a military court. Phenomenally, one member of the Tribunal happened to know their real identity. He taught them Spanish during the war. Senior Garcia, this was his name, knew about their secret hiding and the real identity. On his intervention Vera and Helga were released from F.F.I. military building.

Vera Laroche concludes: “I wish were a writer, so that I could describe more properly all the experience  we had gone through and also describe the wonderful people who besides being real humans always have been gentlemen and… unconditionally!!”

In 1946, Vera Laroche emigrated to the USA. She tried to pursue a motion picture career. This endeavor did not bring much of success. She had started up several businesses. Since the war here health state never was good. She suffered from numerous illnesses seeking medical help. At the same time she did not stop making living by herself.



expand icon Digital Content Created by Vera Laroche (Lewin, Levin)



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