On Sunday, October 30, 2011, Yad Vashem will hold a ceremony posthumously honoring Yves Criou of France as Righteous Among the Nations. His children, Françoise Criou and Reuven Kagan will accept the medal and certificate of honor on their late father’s behalf. The event will take place in the presence of the Ambassador of France to Israel H.E. Christophe Bigot, the survivor, Philippe Klejtman, family and friends. A group of French educators currently attending a seminar at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies will also attend. The medal and certificate of honor will be presented by Irena Steinfeldt, Director of the Department of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem.
A memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance will be held at 11:00 a.m. followed by the awarding of the medal and certificate in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem. The ceremony will take place in French and Hebrew. The event is open to the press, in coordination with the Media Relations Dept: 02 644 3410
The Rescue Story
Yves Criou, a religious Catholic from France, fell in love with Lisa (Lisette) Kahan, the daughter of an observant Jewish family that had emigrated from Russia to France. Despite their families’ objections, Lisette converted to Catholicism and the couple married in 1936. Three years later, their daughter Françoise was born.
When WWII broke out in September 1939, Yves was drafted into the French army. He was captured by the Germans, but managed to escape and return to France. Since Yves no longer had any employment, his brother-in-law, Julien Klejtman, suggested that he come work with him in a store selling electrical appliances. But the partnership was short lived: Julien was arrested on June 22, 1942 and sent to Auschwitz, where he was murdered. After his deportation, Julien’s wife Marie took their son Philippe to southern France. Using forged documents, they were able to join her mother, Malka Kahan, and other family members who had previously taken refuge there. After trying to find shelter among several different places in southern France, Marie decided to return to Paris with Philippe and Malka. They turned to Yves and Lisette, who offered to hide them.
In March 1944, the police arrived at Yves and Lisette’s home, where their Jewish family members were hiding. They interrogated the building’s concierge, demanding to know if any Jews were secreted there. The concierge pretended to know nothing of the Jewish refugees in her building. After the police left, the concierge warned Yves that the building might be searched. Yves gathered together his family and travelled with them to the Paris suburb of Bougival, where he rented an apartment. In order to support his large family, Yves opened a radio repair shop in the basement.
Several months later, the Allied armies invaded and France was liberated. Among the French soldiers that participated in the liberation was Serge Pick, a relative of Malka Kahan, who discovered the family in their hidden location.
Yves Criou passed away on September 14, 1981. On March 22, 2011, the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem decided to award Yves Criou the title of Righteous Among the Nations.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)