Assemblymember Holden Honors Holocaust Survivor Monique Saigal-Escudero

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sacramento, CA – In observance of Holocaust Memorial Day, Assemblymember Chris Holden (AD – 41) recognized Holocaust survivor Monique Saigal-Escudero of Claremont on the Assembly Floor. This year, April 24th marks the 72nd Anniversary of the Holocaust – the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.

“Monique Saigal-Escudero is a child of the Holocaust with an incredible story of survival and perseverance,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden.

 Monique Saigal-Escudero with Holden in Capitol Office

At the age of three, Saigal-Escudero’s grandmother put her on a train carrying non-Jewish children whose fathers had died, with an organization called “the house of the prisoners” that helped war widows by sending their children to spend one month with a host family in southwest France.

Saigal-Escudero arrived at the train station, but there was no one to pick her up.  A young woman saw her crying and brought her home where she lived with the woman’s family in a small village. This Catholic family saved and raised her from age 3 until age 12, several years after the war had ended. She was raised as Catholic due to fear of the Nazi’s in this occupied zone of France.

Based on her experiences during the war, she became an expert and author on women who served in the French Resistance. The book she wrote is entitled French Heroines, 1941-1945: Courage, Strength and Ingenuity. This autobiography tells her story as a Jewish child hidden during WW II. The book also includes interviews and stories of 18 women who were Resistance fighters during the war.  She wrote another book in French about contemporary women writers in France entitled L’écriture: Lien de mère à fille chez Jeanne Hyvrard, Chantal Chawaf, et Annie Ernaux.

Saigal-Escudero moved to California at the age of 17 where she attended the University of California at Los Angeles and received her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in French literature. She had a distinguished career as a professor of French at Pomona College for more than four decades. She first taught Spanish for several years, as well as French language, literature, films and culture for 45 years. She also published articles on French poetry and women writers.

In 2012, Saigal-Escudero received the Dr. Phillip Weiss Inaugural Award for Storytelling for Peace and Human Rights from the Centre for Peace and Justice at the University of Manitoba. Pomona College honored her with the Wig Excellence in Teaching Award in 1997, and in 2013 with the Faculty Alumni Service Award in recognition of her exemplary service to the alumni association.  She was also the recipient of two National Endowments for the Humanities summer grants. Saigal-Escudero currently resides in Claremont and is still active with Pomona College.