Odette Abadi

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Odette Abadi
Odette Rosentstock.jpg
Born(1914-08-24)24 August 1914
Paris, France
Died29 July 1999(1999-07-29) (aged 84)
Moussa Abadi (m. 1959)
HonorsLegion of Honour

Odette Abadi (née Rosenstock; 24 August 1914 – 29 July 1999) was a French physician, and member of the Resistance during World War II (WWII). She was a co-founder of the Réseau Marcel ("Marcel Network") which saved more than 500 Jewish children from death during the Holocaust.

Early life and education[edit]

Rosenstock was born in Paris on 24 August 1914, to garment factory owners Camille and Marthe.[1] Although born Jewish, Rosenstock was not raised in a practicing Jewish home and her parents embraced their French nationality. She began studying medicine in 1933.[2]


After qualifying as a doctor during the Spanish Civil War, Rosenstock went to the Pyrenees in 1938 to welcome and rescue Spanish Republican refugees from the war.[3] The next year, she met Moussa Abadi, a fellow doctor, in December 1939 through a mutual friend.[2] After the Nazi invasion of France, her father fled to the south. However her mother and younger sister Simone were captured by the Nazis before they could join him, and sent to Auschwitz concentration camp where they both died.[4]

Rosenstock was appointed Medical Inspector of Social Security at the Evacuation Centers for Children of the Schools of the City of Paris, then Medical Inspector of Loiret Schools in Montargis. She stayed in these roles until October 1940, when anti-Jewish laws forced her out of a job.[2] Upon meeting up with Moussa in Nice, when he fled, they collected children left abandoned after their Jewish parents were arrested.[5] At the end of November 1942, she worked for the Œuvre de secours aux enfants with her husband.[3]

Eventually, using the resources provided by the Bishop of Nice, they co-founded the Réseau Marcel ("Marcel Network") which saved 527 Jewish children between 1943 and 1945 by hiding them within Catholic institutions.[6][7] Both Rosenstock and Abadi obtained false papers identifying them as Christian as Vichy police began rounding up Jewish people.[4] Through word of mouth, Jewish parents learnt about the Réseau Marcel and pre-emptively left their children with the couple before leaving for the camps or attempting to flee.[8] However, Rosenstock was soon denounced and arrested. She was interrogated and tortured by the Gestapo in 1944 before being deported to concentration camps. During the interrogation, she refused to divulge any information.[9] Rovenstock was firstly sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau before being moved to Bergen-Belsen, where she contracted typhus.[3] After Allied troops liberated the captives at Bergen-Belsen in April 1945, Abadi received a note in Nice that read “Odette is alive.”[10]

Upon their reconnection, they married in 1959 and Rosenstock took his last name.[5][9] During and after the war, Abadi continued her profession as a doctor, with a focus on tuberculosis, and her husband became a theater critic.[8] In the 1980s, she was awarded the Legion of Honor and Silver Medal of the National Academy of Medicine.[11] She wrote a book about her time in concentration camps during WWII called Terre de détresse which was published in 1995.[6]

Moussa died in 1997 and two years after her husband's death, Abadi died of suicide on 29 July 1999.[6][11] She left behind a suicide note addressed to the children that she had helped to save.[12]


Les Enfants et Amis Abadi organisation was created on 4 May 2000 by one of the children saved by the Abadis, Jeannette Wolgust. Its purpose is to bring together the children hidden by the couple and preserve their memory.[13] On 13 September 2008, a square in Paris was named "Place Moussa et Odette Abadi" as a tribute to the couple's work.[14] On 28 October 2017, the "Square Odette et Moussa Abadi" was inaugurated in Nice in recognition of their work.[15]


  1. ^ Coleman 2013, p. 13,15.
  2. ^ a b c "Rosenstock Odette". memoresist.org (in French). Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "Testimony of Odette Abadi" (in French). Mémorial de la Shoah. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  4. ^ a b Coleman 2013, p. 15.
  5. ^ a b Paldiel 2000, pp. 281–285.
  6. ^ a b c Johnson, Douglas (17 August 1999). "Odette Abadi". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  7. ^ Haquet, Charles (26 March 2015). "Histoire: ce réseau de résistants qui a sauvé 500 enfants juifs". L'Express (in French). Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  8. ^ a b Bantman, Béatrice (6 August 1999). "Odette Abadi manquera aux enfants cachés.Avec son mari, elle avait sauvé 527 enfants juifs pendant l'Occupation". Libération (in French). Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  9. ^ a b Pollard, Miranda (Summer 2012). "A Question of Silence? Odette Rosenstock, Moussa Abadi, and the Réseau Marcel" (PDF). French Politics, Culture & Society. 30 (2): 113–133. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  10. ^ Donoghue, Emma (5 October 2019). "The heroic Jewish couple who miraculously smuggled 527 children to safety from WWII occupied France". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  11. ^ a b "Odette Rosenstock". lesenfantsetamisabadi.fr (in French). Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  12. ^ "Lettre à mes 527 enfants". L'Express (in French). Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  13. ^ "Objet de l'association". lesenfantsetamisabadi.fr (in French). Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  14. ^ Coleman 2013, p. 181.
  15. ^ "Une stèle en hommage à Odette et Moussa Abadi". Nice-Matin (in French). 28 October 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2019.