Rivka (Régine) SKORKA was born at Zagorow in the Voïvodeship region of Greater Poland on January 24, 1920. Her father, Jacob Skorka, was a rabbi and her mother Slatka, née Szejman was a milliner who sold hats in Słupca. Rivka had three brothers – Yerme (Jérémie, later Jérôme, Lajb (Léon), and Zalme (Zali).
In 1929 Jacob succeeded in immigrating to France and got a job in a factory in the city of Nancy, where Slatka’s sister had previously settled and married.
In 1930 Slatka, Rivka, and her three brothers joined Jacob in Nancy. Zalme, whose health was fragile, died of pneumonia. Rivka became Régine, Yerme, became Jérôme, and Lajb became Léon.
1938 : Jacob and his family were declared stateless persons by the Polish government. Their request for naturalization was left pending.
1940 : The Skorkas fled before the advance of the German army all the way to Libourne, near Bordeaux. Jacob and Jérôme worked as farm laborers. Slatka and Régine cooked for them. This interlude in the countryside did not last long, no doubt due to the inefficiency of the « farm laborers ». The family moved to Bordeaux, and they all found odd jobs. Régine returned to work on the markets. In September, 1940 she went back to Nancy to reopen her market stall, while Vichy issued its first anti-Jewish Statute. Two months later, in December, the whole Skorka family, except Régine, was interned in the La lande camp at Monts, near Tours.
1941 : Pierre Marie, Edouard Vigneron’s deputy in the aliens bureau of the Nancy police department , provided Régine with a real-fake I.D. card in the name of Hiebel, born in Metz. She used this card to make regular visits to her family at the camp.
October 1941 : Jérôme escaped to Dijon to avoid being trapped as La lande was converted from an open to a closed camp. Régine went down to get him, finding him hidden by Resistance railway workers (as it had become more difficult to cross into the Red Zone restricted for future German colonization) on a train in the rubbish can of the dining car. Jérôme had no papers, but luck helped him to get back to Nancy with Régine (a story that is told in Régine’s book).
At the end of 1941 Régine was tried and convicted by the court at Nancy for illegally practicing trade without a license. (Newspaper comments reveal the less than sterling quality of the Nancy press at the time.)
July 1942 : The officers of the aliens bureau warned Nancy’s Jews of an imminent roundup, thus saving around 3000 people. At the end of the month Régine and her aunt’s family fled to the Free Zone , first aided but subsequently undermined by a crooked smuggler. Jérôme also left for the Free Zone with a real-fake I.D. card made out for Hubert Hiebel, born in Metz.
August 1942 : Régine learned of the arrest of her parents and her brother Léon. She was to have no further news. Her brother was deported in convoy 8 on July 20, followed by her parents in convoy 31 on September 11.
It was during this month of August that Régine, at the instigation of a soldier met by chance in Lyon, joined the Secret Army.
October 1942 : Régine was alerted by her aunt (also called Régine), the sister of her mother Slatka, that their brother Rubin Szejman’s three childen had been lodged with a French Jewish family at Châtelleraut in the Occupied Zone, while their parents, who were foreign Jews, had been arrested. Without a moment’s hesitation Régine charged down there, to be met with the refusal of the foster family to let the children go, whereupon she simply abducted them when school was let out and smuggled them in a haycart and by train in hair-raising circumstances to Limoges in the Free Zone. Then she went back to Lyon, where she shared a house in the Croix-Rousse district with Jérôme
and two other Jewish families. Jérôme went underground with a new false name after a training period in the Vichy Youth Conscript Program and a stint as a forced laborer in Germany, dealt with in his book L’itinéraire d’un adolescent juif de 1939 à 1945.
1943 : Régine received the news of her family’s disappearance from Nancy, quit the Secret Army and joined the Jewish Youth Union. She lived on the rue de l’Annonciade near the Place des Terreaux in Lyons in an apartment in a house over a « traboule » (covered passageway between two streets). During this whole time she made her living as a shoes saleslady in the shop of Madame Tabouret (an admirable woman) on the Place des Terreaux. Resistance activity took up the rest of her time.
June 6, 1944 : the invasion of Normandy. Régine quit work and undertook full-time activity with the Resistance.
June 22nd : Jérôme was arrested at the house on the rue de l’Annonciade by French militiamen under the direction of a member of the Gestapo. Régine fell into the trap and was arrested as well. They were interned in the camp of Montluc and interrogated by a man whose name they were to learn only much later : Klaus Barbie. Identified as Jews, they were sent to the holding pen at Drancy instead of being shot.
July 31st – August 2nd : They were deported in convoy n° 77 from Drancy to Auschwitz.
End of October : Régine was « selected » for the munitions factory at Kratzau, a branch of the Gross Rosen concentration camp in northern Czechoslovakia. While conditions there were still horrific, there was at least no more daily morning roll call with its undertones of selection for death.
May 9, 1945 : Régine is reborn with the liberation of the Kratzau camp by Czech partisans the day after the German capitulation.
Régine Jacubert, née Skorka, was 96 year old in January, 2016. She had two sons, Jacques and Serge, four grandchildren and two great- granddaughters. She lived in Nancy, receiving many honors from the city. Following her brother Jérôme, she gave testimony before numerous classes of schoolchildren so that young people would know what happened and could well happen again.
In 1987, Régine and Jérôme were witnesses for the prosecution at Klaus Barbie’s trial in Lyon.
On the 8th of May, 2005, she was made Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris by the President of the Republic, Jacques Chirac.
Régine passed away peacefully at her home on December 1, 2016. Last respects were paid at Nancy. Her coffin was draped with the national flag, and eulogies were given by two former ministers and her close family, including her grandchildren. A communiqué from the current Education Minister was read, and articles appeared in national newspapers such as le Monde and le Figaro.