Joan Salter (born Fanny Zimetbaum) was born to a Polish Jewish family on 15 February 1940 in Brussels, Belgium. Joan had one older half sister, Lilane. Just three months after Joan was born, Belgium was occupied by Nazi Germany.
By 1941, the family had relocated to Paris in the hope that it would be safer.
However, after the Nazis’ round-ups of male Jews in June 1941, Joan’s father relocated further away to Lyon in Vichy France. Joan, her mother and her sister joined him in 1942, after being smuggled out of Paris in a laundry van by the French resistance.
After the family were reunited in Lyon, Joan’s father was arrested and placed in an internment camp. He escaped and travelled to Spain and then Portugal. Joan, Lilane and their mother attemped to follow him on foot by crossing the Pyrenees mountains but were caught by the Spanish police.
Joan and Lilane eventually were allowed to travel to the USA, under a child rescue agreement, but their parents were not allowed to join them. In the USA, Joan and Lilane were taken in by foster families, before being reunited with their parents in 1947.
In the video, Joan tells her story.