The Full Story

Francine Ajzensztark Taylor was born in 1928 in Karczew, Poland. Francine had a large extended family in Poland; her father was one of six children; her mother, one of eight. Francine herself had one older sister, Suzanne. In 1931, her father, a tailor, decided to move the family to Paris, France, to escape Polish antisemitism. Francine and Suzanne learned French but spoke Yiddish at home.

Francine and her family continued to live in Paris after the German occupation of France in 1940. In 1942, her father’s involvement with the French Underground led to his arrest. He was deported to Auschwitz and killed shortly after his arrival. Suzanne and their mother, Germaine K√∂nigsberg Ajzensztark, went into hiding in Toulouse. Francine, who had earlier been sent out of Paris to the countryside in LeMans for health reasons, began a thousand-kilometer journey by train and bicycle to join them.

After Francine reunited with her mother and sister, they obtained false identification cards and moved again to Saint-Fraimbault, a small hamlet in occupied France. They stayed with the Hertaux family, French peasants who believed the women were victims of bombings outside of Paris and did not know they were Jewish for most of the time they housed them. Once the area was liberated by the Allies, the women returned to Paris, where Francine and Suzanne found work at Orly Air Base. While there, Francine met Harry Taylor, a member of the United States Army Air Forces. They were engaged and returned to the United States in 1949, and in 1950, they were married.  Harry was eventually transferred to Charleston, South Carolina, where the couple settled with their two sons.