…scanned from my archive. My Grandparents travel papers to France. Here is an excerpt from a recent article about them, long but pretty fascinating - "Gertrude with her social grace and skill and knowing full well that they were in mortal danger as political targets in 1939 during WW2 both from Nazis and Russians, steered them on foot, at night mostly, over the mountains from Switzerland to France.
The Zetkins had old friends in Paris who hid them in the French countryside where Kostja worked as a masseur and labourer. After Hitler occupied France they were they were eventually caught and imprisoned for four months by the Vichy Authorities. Luck was on their side: they were not recognized by the German authorities which would have meant an immediate death sentence by firing squad.
It was Gertrude who spotted and secretly negotiated with a sympathetic Prison Commandant. When she nervously felt him out on his political leanings and she confessed to him their real identities, he paused and quietly said, “We cannot have the son of Clara Zetkin in a prison cell”.
Even at the height of the War in Nazi Occupied France, the names of Clara Zetkin and Rosa Luxemburg could be passports to freedom. Such was the regard of ordinary people for these iconic heroes who had championed social justice in Europe for the previous half- century. People willingly risked everything on more than one occasion to save Gertrude and Kostya.
Gertrude’s astute judgment in assessing social realities allowed them to be quietly released and smuggled to safety in Spain and onward to Gertrude’s son, Lucas Bennett in New York in 1945."