European Memories

of the Gulag

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A Russian, Polish and French past

Before the Second World War, Micheline Herc’s family lived between Moscow and Warsaw. Her parents completed their studies in France, where they met, then went back to Warsaw, where they married and decided to stay. The members of the family were businesspeople or industrialists: Mikhail Model, a Russian, close to the Mensheviks, was vice-chairman of all-Russian industries until 1922 and possessed three factories in Kharkov and Kiev. He emigrated to Danzig in 1922, where he continued as an industrialist. Josef and Sonia Herc (Hertz), the paternal grandparents. Josef worked in the fur trade with links to London, with her father who had made a success of his business. They were killed in Treblinka.

Micheline Herc’s father was born in Warsaw, Poland, and her mother in Kursk, Russia.

Gutek, one of Micheline Herc’s paternal uncles, born in 1911, was an international lawyer in London, but returned to Warsaw in 1940 to help his parents and was killed in the ghetto. Marian, her eldest uncle, was deported.

On her mother’s side, David, Micheline’s great-uncle, stayed on in Moscow, where he was the senior director of GUM. Sima, her great-aunt, was in the battle for Leningrad. Marie Rosenberg, on the other hand, Micheline’s maternal aunt, left for France at the same time as Evgenia, Micheline’s mother, to study business (in 1924-25). Then she stayed on in France.