Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Rene Lichtman - August 13, 1998

American Soldiers

Well, let me take it--just before we move to New York um, a couple more things about the, about the war years. What, did you ever um, encounter any American soldiers?

There was, oh, yeah. Well, yeah. There was one. As a matter of fact, I've got some very interesting pictures of the soldiers. Um, but after that fight in the woods and after the Americans came in and took over those same foxholes across the street uh, one of them came over--as a matter of fact, you know, it was, it was interesting because my, both my, well, my, my, my, my guardian, my guardian had a uh, a cousin or someone next door. And even--we weren't even close to her. I mean, that's how uh, we didn't socialize that much. But she had, she had hidden a, hidden a um, American soldier. I don't know if he was the same one who came over. But one time I remember very clearly coming into our, our--I mean, the space at the house was designed in such a way, the upstairs was, was um, um, very nicely furnished. And that's where we spent the winters, upstairs. When-- the summertime, we would go downstairs and eat downstairs, because there was a separate kitchen down there. And downstairs is where we also kept all of our animals, all of our chickens and our rabbits and, you know, it was so, that was the farm aspects. And we always had cats and dogs. My, my guardian loved cats and dogs. So I was raised, I was raised with animals. And um, I mean um, I had my own cat and he slept with me. And I think that was very important. Uh, and to this day, I, um, but um, put--bring me back on track. You asked about...

American, American soldiers.

American soldiers. So I came down to the space that we used in the summertime and uh, there she was with, with this big American soldier sitting there. And he had a big pail of water and she was on the floor washing his hands, washing, washing his feet. You know, it was of those Christian, you know, Jesus or something. I don't know, Jesus having his feet washed or something. I mean, it was just some kind religious, it was the strangest sight. And uh, it was very beautiful. I remember it that way.

What was he doing there?

And, well, he was, I think, I guess one of these guys, I don't know if he got lost, because I, I guess some of them got lost, that's why my, my um, my guardian was, my guardian's um, I think cousin or niece uh, was hiding someone. I--we knew, we learned that there had been a few American soldiers that were hiding in that area before the Americans won uh, before they came over and you know, knocked the Germans out. Uh, and then he, I'm not sure if he just came out of the foxhole, but anyway, he had problems with his feet and he wanted his feet, you know, they were in bad shape and he had to get new socks and all that kind of stuff.

You don't think it was an escaped POW, I mean, because...

Uh, no, because he had a uniform. I remember definitely the, the uniform, the smell of the uniform, you know a GI uh, and uh, I think he gave us chocolate or, or, or um, but where he came from exactly, the--but I knew they had a foxhole right--as a matter of fact, we were the ones who had, at one point, you know, started to dig the holes and then the Germans came and took it over and then uh, so it had a little, a little bit of history. But that was my, that was my first impression. Then when I went back, in terms of relationship with American GIs, when I went back to Paris, we had all these Jewish American GIs, that were, like--became friends. So I've got all these pictures, these very formal pictures and, and actually portraits of my mother and some of her friends. And they had husbands, you know. Um, I mean, we all became friends. And some of the women did not have husbands, because there was always someone who perished. But they took these pictures together and I guess it was the Jewish connection. So that was my um...

So the, was this at your home, they would do this?

Uh, yeah, in uh, no, they went to formal portrait studios. And then and then there were some shots of me by, by the main Place de Publique, you know, in front of the Place--the like, souvenir shots. And my mother had a particular boyfriend, um,

A soldier.

A soldier who was a married guy from Jersey, you know. And she knew he was married, but and so, of course, it was not permanent, but uh, yeah, they took pictures. It was a very interesting uh, relationship. You know, it was very open and casual and non-uptight, you know. It was, um...


It was wartime, yeah. But it was close, you know, it was a close, warm relationship, to the point where they would take these formal portraits together. I mean, they were--it's not like they were hiding anything, you know, they, it was kind of interesting.

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