The Dragon in the Drug Store

Stand for Israel  |  December 12, 2022

Isaure Luzet, French pharmacist and Righteous Gentile nicknamed The Dragon
(Photo: Yad Vashem)

Born right before the turn of the century in France, you wouldn’t have thought Isaure Luzet would grow up to become a friend of the Jewish people. But this brave woman surprised many during her life—just as she saved many people.

Isaure’s father, a French veteran of the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, hated Jewish people, almost as much as he hated Germans. But his daughter would be spared his anti-Semitism. After her father moved the family to Tunisia when Isaure was small, he died and her mother—a schoolteacher—moved the family back to France.

It was there that Isaure Luzet would show her bravery and leadership from a young age. As a child, she became a leader of France’s girl scouting organization, earning the title of “Chief Sea Lion.” In 1920, she then became one of the first French women to receive a degree in pharmacy.

Isaure spent the 1930s running her own pharmacy, named Le Dragon (“The Dragon”). In 1935, she began her stand against the evil spreading through Europe when she demonstrated against far-right fascists in Paris.

When World War II began, The Dragon pharmacy became a Red Cross station, above which Isaure lived with her mother. Isaure Luzet’s elderly mother told her daughter, “There has always been a Luzet in all wars. It’s your turn now.” So while the pharmacist did good in the open for the Red Cross, she also lived a double life for the French Resistance against the Nazis, making the most of her opportunity to fight for good.

Nicknamed “The Dragon,” not just because of her shop, but because she was stern and tenacious, Isaure did all she could for the war effort—secretly bringing food to Resistance fighters, burying those who were murdered by the Nazis, and providing forged identity papers and food ration cards to all in need.

But Isaure also did all she could for the Jewish people. Across from the pharmacy was a convent whose nuns ran a secret network to hide and evacuate Jewish children. Isaure provided the children with fake identities and transportation to safety. And when the Gestapo raided the convent, looking to murder any Jews hidden inside, Isaure hid the children in her own apartment.

Because she was known as both a girl scout leader and a Red Cross volunteer, Isaure was able to cover her secret activities. While the Gestapo did accuse, and even interrogate, “The Dragon” for suspected harboring of Jews, they were never able to catch her.

When the war ended, Isaure Luzet continued to care for victims of the Holocaust, remembering in horror, “I had at the Liberation, still in the name of the Red Cross, to receive people who were brought back from the concentration camps, by railway wagons, lying on the benches, two guys still in their striped pajamas. Dressed skeletons. It’s horrible.”

Isaure Luzet, the pharmacist and “The Dragon” and a true hero of the Holocaust, was named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 1988, six years before her death at the age of 94. May her memory be a blessing.

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