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Claire Monis

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Claire Monis
Born(1922-02-10)10 February 1922
Died25 October 1967(1967-10-25) (aged 45)
Occupation(s)Singer, violinist, producer
Known forLieutenant in the French resistance, Holocaust survivor who performed in the Auschwitz women's orchestra
Children2, including Philippe Kahn

Claire Monis (10 February 1922 – 25 October 1967) was a French singer, actress, and Lieutenant in the French resistance. She was a Holocaust survivor as a member of the Auschwitz Women's Orchestra. After WW2, Claire was a producer of movies and TV shows.

Family and childhood


Monis was born on 10 February 1922 in the 10th arrondissement of Paris.[1] Her parents, Avroum (alias Albert) Monis, a theatre bellman, Klezmer clarinet and accordion player, a cabinet maker, and Suzanne Aisenstein, originally from Russia, emigrated to France beginning of the 20th century, fleeing the anti-Semitic pogroms in Russia. They married [2] on 7 May 1921 in the 18th arrondissement of Paris and obtained French citizenship in 1928 with their two daughters.[3][4] The couple set up as furniture merchants with the sign "Aux Galeries Saint-Maur", which later became a cabinetmaking shop "Les Meubles Monis".

Advertisement "Aux Galeries Saint Maur" with the name of M. Monis

Singing career


In 1938, Monis won the "music-hall des jeunes", a competition organized by the French federation of communist youths, which led her to take part with Pierre Dac in the youth gala.[5] In addition, she took part in radio concerts, notably in Charles Trenet's program for the Radio Cité station,[6] with Élyane Célis [fr] and André Perchicot[7] She also sang in the cinema where she played the role of "Clarita" in the film "Je chante", a musical comedy directed in 1938 by Christian Stengel with Charles Trenet.[8][9][10]

Monis sang in Parisian cabarets: with Jacques Pills at the cabaret "Chez Elle",[11] at "La Boîte à Sardines";[12] described as a "swing singer", she hosted the evenings of the cabaret "Au Normandy".[13] She participated, notably with Paul Meurisse and Marguerite Gilbert [fr], in the grand opening gala of the cabaret " À la Cave de la Cloche ".[14] She also participated in the programme of the cabaret " L'Écrin ", 19 rue Joubert Paris 9e, with Léo Marjane, Jacqueline Figus and Jean Solar.[15]

Resistance and deportation

Grave of Claire Monis at Cemetery of Bagneux
Extract death act for Claire Monis 1967

Monis was a Resistance fighter in the Free French Forces (FFL) and the Fighting French Forces (FFC) within the Robin-Buckmaster network[16] created by Jacques Weil [fr] and of which she was the secretary. She used her singing tour (song order and word changes) to inform her network.

List of songs for Claire Monis

She was arrested on 22 June 1942[17] at 6, place du Combat in Paris, and sent to Fresnes prison, then interned on 10 September 1942 at the Autun citadel in the Saône-et-Loire department.

She declared herself to be non-Jewish and tried in vain to obtain a Catholic baptism certificate. Still, the new director of the status of Jewish people (under the general commissariat for Jewish questions), Emile Boutmy, demanded her father's birth certificate, which was impossible to provide. As a result, Monis was classified as "100% Jewish",[18][19] on 22 December 1943. She was sent to the Drancy camp where she left 100 francs[20] at the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignation before being deported to Auschwitz[21] by convoy no. 66 on 20 January 1944. She was 21 years old. She escaped the extermination after being recruited into the Auschwitz women's orchestra as a singer in the orchestra led by Alma Rosé.[22][23][24] There she met other French women, including Hélène Rounder [fr] and Fanny Ruback, who also survived. All the survivors were transferred on 31 October 1944 to the Bergen-Belsen camp, where they arrived on 2 November 1944. The camp was liberated on 15 April 1945 by the British army. Monis was repatriated by truck on 17 May 1945 to Paris. She obtained her certificate as part of the French Fighting Force with the rank of Lieutenant of the French Resistance.[25]

After the war


A book by Professor Susan Eischeid[26] details the relationships between the survivors of the Orchestra, including the 1976 Fania Fenelon’s narrative, contradicted by those of Violette Jacquet-Silberstein [fr],[27] Anita Lasker-Wallfisch as well as Helena Dunicz-Niwińska.[28][29]

Monis met Charles-Henri Kahn (1915-1999) in 1945 at a Gaullist rallye and married him in 1947 in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. From this marriage two children were born, one of whom was Philippe Kahn in 1952. They were separated in 1957 and divorced in 1961. Monis raised her son Philippe alone. He was granted the status of the "ward of the Nation", after her death, thanks to Monis’s anticipation.

Monis pursued her career as a violinist and singer (classical, klezmer, and jazz) and frequently received her friends from the Resistance (such as Jacques Weil [fr]) and musicians around the family piano. She played with Luis Mariano in 1948 in the operetta Andalousie by Francis Lopez at the Gaîté-Lyrique,[30] and performed the role again in 1949 and 1950 in Lyon.[31] After several trips to Canada and the United States, she turned to production with television series such as L'Inspecteur Leclerc in 1962, then Les Aventures de Robinson Crusoé in 1964-1965, Marcel Carné's Trois chambres à Manhattan[32] in 1965[33] and Le Golem in 1966 with Jean Kerchbron [fr]. Monis then became a producer at ORTF and Radio France.



Monis was hit by a car in front of her parents' shop at 11 Rue du Faubourg du Temple, at 11th arrondissement of Paris. She died a few days later as a result of this accident, on 25 October 1967 at her home in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.[34] She was buried on 27 October 1967 in the Parisian cemetery of Bagneux.[35] The words "Mort pour la France" were added to her death certificate in 1977.[36][37]


  1. ^ "Table décennale 1913-1922 du 10e arrondissement". le site des archives de la ville de Paris. pp. 3/21. Retrieved 14 May 2021..
  2. ^ "acte de mariage No. 1668 dans le 18e arrondissement de Monis-Aisenstein". le site des archives de la ville de Paris. pp. 29/31. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  3. ^ "matchID - Moteur de recherche des décès". Deces.matchid.io. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  4. ^ Journal officiel de la République française, édition du 8 juillet 1928, p. 7613.
  5. ^ La fédération des jeunesses communistes de France vous invite au gala de la jeunesse - du music-hall : Pierre Dac, le roi des loufoques et Claire Monis, in le quotidien L'Humanité, édition du 23 novembre 1938.
  6. ^ Radio-Cité, le poste le plus écouté, vous offre ce soir, in le quotidien L'Intransigeant, édition du 27 juin 1938.
  7. ^ "Les principales émissions d'aujourd'hui, in le quotidien l'Excelsior". Retronews.fr. 27 April 1939.
  8. ^ "Casting du film Je chante (1938)". le site de la société Gaumont. Retrieved 14 May 2021..
  9. ^ Distribution du film Je chante, in revue Le Nouveau Film, édition du 5 novembre 1938, .
  10. ^ "Casting de Je Chante (1938) - SensCritique". Senscritique.com. Retrieved 14 May 2021..
  11. ^ Programme du cabaret « Chez Elle », in Paris-Soir, édition du 31 mai 1941.
  12. ^ Programme du cabaret « La Boîte à Sardines », in Comœdia, édition du 18 avril 1942,
  13. ^ Programme du cabaret « Au Normandy », in La Petite Gironde, édition du 25 février 1942.
  14. ^ Annonce du grand gala d'ouverture du cabaret « À la Cave de la Cloche », in Paris-Soir, édition du 25 mars 1939
  15. ^ Programme du cabaret « L'Ecrin », in Paris-Soir, édition du 26 janvier 1942
  16. ^ "Titres, homologations et services pour faits de résistance". le site du ministère des Armées. Retrieved 14 May 2021..
  17. ^ Serge Klarsfeld - Jean-Pierre Stroweis. "Le Mֳémorial de la Déportation des Juifs de France - en ligne"..
  18. ^ Joly, Laurent (2006). Vichy dans la "solution finale". Grasset et Fasquelle. ISBN 978-2-24663-841-4.
  19. ^ Eischeid, Susan (25 June 2016). The Truth about Fania Fénelon and the Women's Orchestra of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Springer. ISBN 978-3-31931-038-1.
  20. ^ "Archives de la Préfecture de Police de Paris". FRAPP-ID04-004-04..
  21. ^ "Mémorial de la Shoah". le site du Mémorial de la Shoah. Retrieved 14 May 2021..
  22. ^ "Orchestre des femmes à Auschwitz - Birkenau". Musiques-regenerees.fr. Retrieved 2021-11-05.
  23. ^ "Musique dans les Camps de Concentration (Auschwitz)". Musiques-regenerees.fr. Retrieved 2021-04-16.
  24. ^ "Orchestre des femmes d'Auschwitz". le blog www.memoiresdeguerre.com d'un anonyme. 21 May 2020. Retrieved 14 May 2021..
  25. ^ "Faire une recherche - Mémoire des hommes". Memoiredeshommes.sga.defense.gouv.fr. Service historique de la Défense, Vincennes GR 16 P 426327 - Service historique de la Défense, Vincennes SHD/ GR 28 P 11 78. Retrieved 2021-04-16..
  26. ^ Eischeid, Susan (25 June 2016). "The Truth about Fania Fénelon and the Women's Orchestra of Auschwitz-Birkenau". Springer. p. 43. ISBN 978-3-31931-038-1.
  27. ^ "Key Issues of Distortion and embellishment in Fania Fenelon's Playing for Time". Researchgate.net. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  28. ^ "Dr. Susan Eischeid Honored with Presidential Excellence Award for Research". Valdosta.edu. 12 October 2017. Retrieved 15 May 2021..
  29. ^ Dunicz Niwińska, Helena (2013). "Ones of the Girls in the Band, Museum Auschwitz Birkenau". Państwowe Muzeum Auschwitz-Birkenau. p. 102. ISBN 978-8-37704-057-7.
  30. ^ "La Gazette provençale 10 septembre 1948 - (10-septembre-1948)". RetroNews - Le site de presse de la BnF (in French). 10 September 1948. Retrieved 2021-11-07.
  31. ^ "Memoire Celestins Lyons". le site du Théâtre de Lyon. Retrieved 15 May 2021..
  32. ^ "Trois chambres à Manhattan". IMDb.com. 10 November 1965. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  33. ^ Oliver Kellner, Seewolf & Co: Robinson Crusoe, Lederstrumpf, David Balfour, Mathias Sandorf, Tom Sawyer - die grossen Abenteuer-Vierteiler des ZDF (in German). Schwarzkopf und Schwarzkopf. 2005. p. 8. ISBN 978-3-89602-632-3.
  34. ^ "Registre de la mairie de Paris". Archives.paris.fr.
  35. ^ "Cimetière de Bagneux - inhumation de Claire Monis". Le site des archives de la ville de Paris. p. 10. Retrieved 14 May 2021..
  36. ^ "Acte de décès -- Mairie de Paris -- acte #1376". Paris.fr.
  37. ^ Avis du Secrétariat d'Etat aux anciens combattants, décision N°100.348.99.205.EC du 21 février 1977

Further reading

  • Fania Fénelon and Marcelle Routier. Playing for Time. Translated from the French by Judith Landry. Atheneum New York 1977. ISBN 0-689-10796-X.
  • Eischeid, Susan."The Truth about Fania Fénelon and the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz-Birkenau". Stock, 1976 - then Palgrave MacMillan New York 2016. ISBN 978-3-31931-038-1
  • Fania Fénelon and Marcelle Routier. Sursis pour l'orchestre. Témoignage recueilli par Marcelle Routier. Co-édition Stock/Opera Mundi. Paris 1976. ISBN 0-689-10796-X.
  • Esther Bejarano and Birgit Gärtner. Wir leben trotzdem. Esther Bejarano--vom Mädchenorchester in Auschwitz zur Künstlerin für den Frieden. Herausgegeben vom Auschwitz-Komitee in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland [We Live Nevertheless] e.V. Pahl-Rugenstein Verlag Bonn, 2007. ISBN 3-89144-353-6
  • Esther Bejarano, Man nannte mich Krümel. Eine jüdische Jugend in den Zeiten der Verfolgung. Herausgegeben vom Auschwitz-Komitee in der Bundesrepublik e.V. Curio-Verlag Hamburg 1989. ISBN 3-926534-82-6
  • Richard Newman and Karen Kirtley, Alma Rosé. Vienna to Auschwitz. Amadeus Press Portland Oregon 2000. ISBN 1-57467-051-4
  • Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, Inherit the Truth. A Memoir of Survival and the Holocaust. St. Martin's Press New York 2000. ISBN 0-312-20897-9
  • Gabriele Knapp, Das Frauenorchester in Auschwitz. Musikalische Zwangsarbeit und ihre Bewältigung. von Bockel Verlag Hamburg 1996. ISBN 3-928770-71-3
  • Violette Jacquet-Silberstein and Yves Pinguilly, Les sanglots longs des violons... Avoir dix-huit ans à Auschwitz. Publié par les éditions Oskarson (Oskar jeunesse) Paris 2007. Previously published with the title Les sanglots longs des violons de la mort. ISBN 978-2-35000-162-3
  • Jacques Stroumsa. Violinist in Auschwitz. From Salonica to Jerusalem 1913-1967. Translated from German by James Stewart Brice. Edited by Erhard Roy Wiehn. Hartung-Gorre Verlag. Konstanz (mentions Julie Stroumsa)
  • Mirjam Verheijen. Het meisje met de accordion: de overleving van Flora Schrijver in Auschwitz-Birkenau en Bergen-Belsen. Uitgeverij Scheffers Utrecht 1994. ISBN 90-5546-011-7
  • Rachela Zelmanowicz Olewski. Crying is Forbidden Here! A Jewish Girl in pre-WWII Poland, The Women's Orchestra in Auschwitz and Liberation in Bergen-Belsen. Edited by Arie Olewski and his sister Jochevet Ritz-Olewski. Based on her Hebrew testimony, recorded by Yad-Vashem on 21 May 1984. Published at the Open University of Israel 2009. ISBN 978-965-91217-2-4
  • Helena Dunicz-Niwińska. "One of the Girls in the Band. The Memoirs of a Violinist from Birkenau". Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2021 ISBN 978-8-37704-057-7.
  • Jean-Jacques Felstein. Dans l'orchestre d'Auschwitz - Le secret de ma mère. Auzas Éditions Imago Paris 2010. ISBN 978-2-84952-094-9
  • Bruno Giner. Survivre et mourir en musique dans les camps nazis. Éditions Berg International 2011. ISBN 978-2-917191-39-2
  • Laurent Joly. "Vichy dans la "solution finale"". Editions Grasset et Fasquelle. ISBN 978-2-24663-841-4.