Simone was the oldest of two children born to a Jewish family in the small village of Ringendorf. When she was 3 her family moved to Strasbourg. Her father made his living breeding sheep. Simone and her younger brother were both active in a Jewish scouting organization, Les Eclaireurs Israelites de France (EIF). Simone attended a public secondary school in Strasbourg.
1933-39: In addition to attending secondary school for five days of the week, I also went to a Jewish religious school on the other two days. I began to take on increasing responsibilities in my scouting troop. In 1936, when I was 16, I became the leader of the troop, in charge of 35 girls. Two years later, in 1938, I graduated from secondary school and began to study early childhood education and social work.
1940-44: Early in 1940 I took a teaching job in Paris. When Germany invaded France that May, my family fled to the south. A friend working with OSE, a Jewish aid society, asked me to be a resident social worker in Rivesaltes, an internment camp for foreign-born Jews near the Spanish border. We tried to provide the adults with forged documents, but for each person we managed to get off the trains, the Nazis substituted someone else. But we rescued most of the children in the camp before the deportations began in 1942.
For the remainder of the war, Simone assumed a false name and joined the OSE underground network to hide Jewish children in southern France. In 1949 she emigrated to America.