Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Rene Lichtman - August 13, 1998

Death of Father

Um, and, now, let, let's go back to, we've been talking and your father is now in the war, in the French Army.



My father, interestingly enough, well, well, he, he gets killed right away. Why does he get killed? Because they put him--they had a lot of foreigners. Uh, it's very simi...uh, it was similar then to what it is now, in France. They have a huge amount of foreigners and um, escaping fascism from all over Europe. They have a lot of Jews. And so--as a matter of fact, I was just reading in this book that it said there was a letter written to-- and this occurred a lot--from someone in um, um, uh, you know uh, Vichy, from the Vichy government saying to these people up north, saying, "Look we're sending you a transport of de juif etranger," foreign Jews, as opposed to French Jews. The French Jews uh, who had been there for generations, the French uh, tried to um, to protect them as long as they could. In the end, they weren't successful. But the first ones they wanted to go were these foreign Jews. So my father, coming from Poland, was a foreign Jew. So he joined the military. And I've been told he did it because that was a, a quick way for me to become a citizen. He wanted me to become a F...French citizen.

For you to become a citizen.


Not for him to become a citizen.

Right, for me. And um, so he joined the French Army. And he was put in with these units of foreign, foreigners and he was killed right away, because they were the, they were the ones sent up to meet the Germans. Uh, you don't want to spill French blood. Um, so--and there, there's a little interesting story about that. My, my uncle Moishe, when I went back to visit in '64, I went to visit. And I, I was beginning to wonder about who my, well, my father was, because my mother had, could not tell me anything about him except that he was tall and handsome. And um, so I asked Moishe, I said--and Tanta Roisa was then my aunt, I said, "Look, here's a guy, he goes and joins the army. You know, where does that come from? Because everybody else was going south, he decides, now, I want to know what kind of politics did he have in Poland?" So right away, my Uncle Moishe says, "Er is Geven," a communist, he was a communist, you know, which means anything. He was a leftist. And, and then my Tanta Roisa right away, says, um, says, "Yes, but he stopped all that nonsense when he came to France, you know." So why my father joined the military, I'm not quite sure. But one thing that my uncle told me at the time, which was very significant, he said, look, your dad came home on leave one time, before he was supposed to really go up to the front. He was very sick. I said to him, this is Moishe talking, my uncle, he says, he says, "Look, we're all going south, what the heck are you doing going back up there? Come back. You're sick. You shouldn't be going back to your unit anyway. Go south with us." And for some reason my father felt he had an obligation to go back uh, to his unit and um, and he was killed.

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