Shattered Crystals - Edith

EDITH AZDERBAL, 1919 - 1942

Shattered Crystals, the history of the survival of my family in the Holocaust, is dedicated to three of my many relatives who did not survive: My two grandfathers, Markus Kanner* and Moses Azderbal, and my young aunt, Edith Azderbal, who was Mia Amalia Kanner’s youngest sister.

The sad fact about Edith is that during the last months of a life cut short by the Holocaust she was without family. Because many details of my aunt’s brief life were missing, I sought information from the International Red Cross Tracing Service in the year 2000. The answer came with the Arolsen Files six years later, adding to but not completing Edith’s history. The bottom of this page has links to these documents about Edith secured from the Arolsen Files.

Edith Azderbal was born in Leipzig, Germany on June 21, 1919, the youngest of three girls. My mother, Mia, was then 14, and the middle sister, Hannah, was 10. Various documents in the Arolsen file show Edith’s year of birth as 1910 and 1920, but other information in the documents matches what is known. That her surname was extremely unusual further confirms that the documents with the wrong birth dates refer to Edith.

Edith grew up in the family home, an apartment on the Nordstrasse, in Leipzig. She was mentally impaired, and as a young adult her mental age was no more than about 10. She did learn to read and write. Blessed with good looks and a sunny disposition, she was a well-loved individual.

Some time late in 1937 or early in 1938, prior to Kristallnacht, her father, Moses Azderbal, brought her to Montmorency, a suburb of Paris, to live with Hannah who had settled there in 1935 after her marriage to Hermann Felber. Moses did not stay in France but returned to Leipzig.

In the spring of 1940, as the Nazis advanced through Holland, Belgium and into France, the Felbers fled south, as did many of German-Jewish friends and acquaintances they had known in Montmorency, Paris, and Leipzig, settling in Villeneuve sur Lot, in Unoccupied or Vichy France. It can be assumed that Edith either accompanied the Felbers or one of the other of these refugees, because we pick up her trail in Gurs, a concentration camp close to the Spanish border. She must have been arrested in Villeneuve during one of the roundups of Jews. It is unlikely that she would have been interned in Gurs, had she been arrested in the Occupied Zone of Northern France.

About July 1940, my father, who was interned in the French concentration camp of Gurs in the latter part of June 1940, found Edith in the camp. She was disoriented and wandering aimlessly. She could not tell Sal how she came to be there. However, a few days later, Edith suddenly announced to Sal, “They are in Villeneuve. The Felbers are in Villeneuve.” When she was arrested and interned, or why, is not known.

In the autumn of 1940, the commandant of Gurs announced that inmates who had relatives in France with whom they could live might be freed to join their families. Having learned the whereabouts of the Felbers from Edith, he successfully used this information to gain his and Edith’s release from Gurs.

Short of money, they set out for Villeneuve sur Lot on foot. At night they slept at the side of the road. Edith complained frequently of being tired, and it took some days for the two of them to cover the 150 kilometers. It was only in Villeneuve that Sal learned from Hannah that my mother, Mia, my sisters, and I were in the OSE home in Haute Vienne. He left Edith with her sister, Hannah, and took to the road once more to join us.

Towards the end of 1941, the Felbers, Hannah, her husband, daughter and mother-in-law secured visas that allowed them to leave France. They travelled first to Dakar, Morocco and then Curacao in the Caribbean, before reaching New York months later. Evidently, there was no exit visa or any other required legal document for Edith. It is assumed that Hannah made arrangements for her to live with one of her acquaintances in Villeneuve, who would look after the 20-year-old woman.

After the end of World War II, my father, Sal, who survived in France, met an acquaintance who told him Edith had “died on the train” to Auschwitz. This information was duly included in my book, Shattered Crystals. Edith’s Arolsen file contradicts this report. The name of the informant is not known.

The documents in the Arolsen file show Villeneuve as Edith’s abode prior to her arrest. She was arrested in August 1942 as part of the general roundup of Jews in France that summer. She was initially interned in Camp Casseneuil, Lot et Garonne, and was transferred to the infamous transit Camp Drancy outside of Paris, arriving there on September 3, 1942. She was transported to Auschwitz, reaching the Polish death camp on September 9, 1942.

A letter from the archivist states, “We cannot tell you if she [Edith] was in the party of 68 [women] selected for work,” work meaning forced labor. Considering her mental impairment it must be assumed that she was among those who were “gassed immediately upon arrival.” The file ends with the information that of the more than 1,000 men, women and children in Edith’s convoy, only 22 survived the war.

A second file obtained from Bad Arolsen concerns Edith’s and my mother Mia’s father, my grandfather, Moses Azderbal. He had managed to cross the border into Holland, probably illegally, on August 13, 1940. He was arrested on November 18, 1942 and deported from the Dutch transit camp of Westerbork to Auschwitz, arriving there on January 23, 1943. Information received from the Netherland Red Cross states, “After the war, his [Moses Azderbal’s] death on January 26, 1943, {immediately after his arrival in Auschwitz} was officially certified by the Dutch authorities.” One hundred and thirty-nine days after Edith was murdered in Auschwitz, her father was also murdered there.

* Markus Kanner died in Poland in June 1940 [Shattered Crystals, pp 215-216]



  1. Letter dated 22 September 2006 from International Tracing Service, Bad Arolsen, enclosing documents about Edith Rifke Azderbal.
  2. Identity card issued by Villeneuve sur Lot municipality, November 19, 1940.
  3. “Casseneuil”, a publication that gives the details of Camp Casseneuil.
  4. Letter to Mme Diatta, Bad Arolsen from French Archivist enclosing four documents about Edith Azderbal.
  5. Document showing that Edith was deported to Auschwitz on September 9, 1942.
  6. Record of Deportees showing Edith’s name.
  7. Document stating Edith Azderbal of Villeneuve and Camp de Casseneuil left Drancy on September 9, 1942.
  8. List of names, including Edith, on convoy 30.
  9. Cover of Serge Klarsfeld book, “Record of the Persecution of Jews of France, September 1942 – August 1944”.
  10. Page from that book that shows the same list of convoy 30 with Edith's name.
  11. Document to Obersturmbannfurer Eichmann, showing that 1,000 Jews left Drancy for Auschwitz on September 9, 1942.
  12. Cover of book by Gerard Gobitz titled “The Deportation of Refugees from the Free Zone in 1942”.
  13. Page of Gobitz book showing convoy route.
  14. Document summarizing the convoy composition.


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