Peter Feigl’s Diary Entry on His Escape to Switzerland, May 22, 1944

Entry from the diary of Peter Feigl from May 22, 1944, in which he describes his escape from occupied France into Switzerland.


Monday, May 22, 1944 [Geneva]

Sketch of the border between France and Switzerland to plan escape from France. Drawn by Petr Feigl.

Leave at 6:30 A.M. from Lyons Brotteaux to Viry Culoz.  Arrival at 12 P.M. There, half of them don’t get off [the train]. I jump off the running train. The two passeurs [guides who help people cross national borders clandestinely] tell us to hide in a grass field. Cops go by. At 1 P.M., the others who got off at St. Julien region us[.] The column starts walking behind the passeurs. We are marching along a road. While no one could be seen on the road, at a sign from the passeur we cross in double time a grassy field and then a plowed field. We see the railroad track. The barbed wires have already been cut. No one on the tracks. We go through at a gallop. Then we enter high grasses and a small forest. There the two passeurs get lost; we run around in circles three times then he finds the way again. There is a young kid who’s screaming and the passeurs are furious. We go through a woods. We see the border. No Krauts, no French. He makes us lie flat on the ground. It rained and it’s not pleasant. My feet are soaking wet. The signal for us. On the run we get nearer to the barbed wires. We throw our backpacks over the fence and we cross wherever feasible. A Swiss guard is watching us. We cross at Sorral II. We are well received. An interrogation (the first one) already started. I pull out my real [identity] papers, which have been sewn into my jacket [lining].

A truck came to pick us up around 3 P.M. I took us to Geneva to the “triage” camp of Claparéde. Everybody along the road waves to us. There the interrogations start. We eat well. At 11 P.M. I take a shower and they inspect our scalp [for lice]. Then I sleep soundly in a free country.  (SP, p. 88).

Topic:
Holocaust
Place:
France

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