Monday, September 7, 2015

Mila Racine (1919-1945)

Mila Racine was born in Moscow on 14 September 1919 but immigrated to Paris with her family. On the eve of the German occupation of the city, the family fled to southern France.

Simon Lévitte, the director of the EIF (Eclaireurs Israelites de France) scouting movement, brought Mila to work in the documentation center he established in the town of Moissac (in the Tarn-et-Garonne district), near the youth movement’s dormitory. When the south of France was occupied in November 1942, Lévitte moved the documentation center to the city of Grenoble (Isère), in the Italian-occupied area. Mila also moved to Grenoble. 

From that time the documentation center was operated both by the EIF and by the Zionist movement MJS (Mouvement de la Jeunesse Sioniste). After the Germans overran the Italian-occupied area in September 1943, the MJS assembled a group of activists who volunteered to smuggle children and young people across the Swiss border. Mila was a major activist in the group, but on 21 October 1943, she was arrested by the German border police together with the children she was guiding. All of them were taken to the Gestapo compound in the city of Annemasse, adjacent to the border. She succeeded in concealing her Jewish identity and was deported to Ravensbrück. The children were rescued by members of the underground.

On March 30, 1945, Mila was killed in an aerial bombardment.
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