Renee Bornstein

From Wikitia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Renee Bornstein
Add a Photo
Renee Koenig

(1934-02-10) February 10, 1934 (age 90)
Strasbourg, France
OccupationHolocaust survivor
Spouse(s)Dr Ernst Israel Bornstein
RelativesHelen (sister), Joe (brother)

Renee Bornstein (née Koenig) is a French-born holocaust survivor, who currently lives in Manchester, England. She is the wife of Ernst Israel Bornstein, a Polish-born holocaust survivor and author of 'Die Lange Nacht', which was first printed in Germany in 1967 and translated into English by his daughter Noemie Lopian in 2015 as 'The Long Night.'

Personal life

Renee Koenig was born in Strasbourg, France on 10 February 1934 and moved to a small town called St Junien in the south-west of France, aged 5, with her parents, her older sister Helen and younger brother, Joe.

Koenig is Jewish and a survivor of the Holocaust[1]. In 1964, she married Dr Ernst Israel Bornstein, a doctor and dentist, who she met through mutual friends when he was 42 and she was 30. They lived in Munich, Germany and had three children: Noemie, Muriel and Alain.

Her husband Ernst died in 1978, at the age of 55, due to a heart condition attributed to to years of starvation and forced labour during his teenager years in the holocaust. Renee later moved to Manchester, England with her children.

The Holocaust

In 1942, the Nazis invaded France and would search villages looking for Jews to deport to concentration camps and death camps. Renee and her family would rush to hide in barns, farms, convents and cellars of chapels to avoid being taken by the Nazis.

As the Nazis tightened their grip on occupied France, Renee’s parents decided to send their three children to Switzerland, giving them false names and papers and to join with non-Jewish children at a holiday camp to escape the bombing (although most of these children were Jewish). Renee was given the name Renee Blanche.

Renee was aged 10 and her siblings, Helen 13 and Joe 9, hid in a Catholic convent in France for two weeks. [1] Renee recalls the nuns telling her that she will die , hence she should be baptised by them so that she can go to heaven and not hell.

In 1944, Renee’s group of 32 children, aged 2 to 16, were joined by a Jewish Girl Guide and French Resistance worker, Marianne Cohn, aged 22 who took them across the border from Annecy in France to Switzerland.

The group missed the train in Annecy and transport with a lorry was arranged. On the way, close to Pas De L’Echelle, a French village near Geneva, the lorry was stopped. Renee,*her siblings and the other children, together with Marianne were arrested by the Gestapo with barking dogs and guns. The driver, Joseph Fournier, was taken away and beaten by the Gestapo.

The children and Marianne were imprisoned in the Prison du Pax in Annemasse, on the border between France and Switzerland. She was interrogated daily at gunpoint by Chief Gestapo Myer together with her siblings. She also witnessed a young Jewish boy, Leon Sonnstein, aged 11 being beaten.

The Lord Mayor of Annemasse Jean Deffaught provided food for the children and visited almost daily passing messages back and forth for Marianne..

After a few days in prison, Marianne Cohn was taken away for slave labour and questioning and returned every evening with a red and very swollen face. She was subjected to torture, hot and cold baths and was eventually raped murdered by the Gestapo in July 1944. A school in Annemasse, France was named after her; a tribute to her bravery in saving at least 200 Jewish children by smuggling them out of France’s occupied zone into Switzerland. [2]


In August 1944, after two weeks of being in prison, the Lord Mayor of Annemasse negotiated freedom for the children with the Gestapo.

The children stayed in Bonne-sur-Menoge for around two weeks and were told that the Lord Mayor would be shot if they attempted to run away.

Members of the underground movement ‘Le Maki’ took the children to a Red Cross refugee centre at the Carlton Hotel in Geneva and after three months, where she and her siblings were returned home to her parents.

In total, Renee had been apart from her parents for 6 months, who both survived the war by constantly hiding and the family were reunited in late 1944.


In 1964, Renee married Dr Ernst Israel Bornstein, a Polish holocaust survivor who practiced as a doctor and dentist and the couple lived in Munich and had three children.

Ernst started writing his memoirs after discovering that many of his patients knew nothing about the Holocaust only a generation after it happened and others thought it had been exaggerated and falsified.

In 1967, he published 'Die Lange Nacht' and initially publishers were reluctant to give it attention. The book was well received on publication, netting a review in the Times Literary Supplement, even though it was published only in German.

In 1978, at the age of 55, Ernst died suddenly of a heart condition. When Ernst died, the family relocated to Manchester, England and continue to live there today.

Bornstein's daughter Noemie has translated Die Lange Nacht (The Long Night) into English from its original German . David Arnold advised on the English language and the book was published in 2015.

The book includes a prefaced letter by David Cameron [3] and has been endorsed by Lord Finkelstein, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Jonathan Dimbleby and Dan Snow

A new German edition is published in 2020 with a foreword by Charlotte Knobloch and is currently being translated into Czech.


In May 2019, Renee and two other holocaust survivors were invited back to the town of Annemasse and a ceremony was held in the two centre in their honour, unveiling a plaque with their names. [4]

BBC 1 will screen Renee’s story as part of Me, My Family and The Holocaust [5]in September 2020

In the media


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Renee Bornstein's Life Story". Holocaust Matters. 12 April 2018. Archived from the original on 4 May 2020. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  2. Freeman, Hadleyl. "The Nazis tried to kill kindness. We fight against that". Archived from the original on 25 April 2019. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  3. Sylvetsky, Rochel. "Book Review: The Long Night, a journey through the Holocaust". Israel National News. Archived from the original on 27 June 2019. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  4. Officiel, l8montblanc. "3 destins réunis par la Seconde Guerre Mondialet". Archived from the original on 14 September 2020. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  5. "BBC announces new factual commissions". 31 January 2019. Archived from the original on 11 June 2020. Retrieved 9 September 2020.

External links

This article "Renee Bornstein" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical. Articles taken from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be accessed on Wikipedia's Draft Namespace.