If you’ve read Lilac Girls you know about little Guy Poirot, the baby who is lifted up into one of the Swedish Red Cross’ rescue busses, to be reunited with his mother and escape the camp. It is based on a true story, of how Ravensbruck prisoner Raymonde Poirot gave birth to a child at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp and escaped with him.
Pregnant when she arrived at the camp, Raymonde worked in the prison laundry and on Sunday, March 11, 1945 she gave birth to her child in the corner of the room. Her fellow prisoners brought her rags to wrap the child in and she called him Mon petit chiffon, my little rag bundle. She named him Guy. Others called him Lumpi– rag bundle.
Raymonde’s friends smuggled Guy and his mother to the mother and child barrack, where they were somewhat safer. Soon the war ended and Raymonde knew she would be able to take Guy home to France, but she could not be seen with her secret child.
The Ravensbruck prisoners gathered and worked out a strategy to save Guy. The moment Raymonde had passed the guard on her way to the waiting Swedish rescue bus and had taken her first step up, another prisoner came running. “Raymonde, you have forgotten your rag bundle,” she said and tossed the bundle up to her. The bus drove off and the camp authorities never knew mother and child left that day, with the help of so many brave conspirators.
Guy is still called Lumpi today.
This week I found the lovely photo above, of Guy and his mother. I had heard Guy was a teacher in France, but that was all I knew about his life after Ravensbruck until I saw this picture. I also just found out this week Lilac Girls will soon be published in France.
Perhaps Guy will reach out to me here. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?