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Paul Escande(09/1944 - 08/1946)
Marcel Ribière(1940 - 1943) Marcel Julien Henri Ribière, Préfet de la région de Marseille (Alpes-Maritimes, Basses-Alpes (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence), Bouches-du-Rhône, Corse, Gard, Hautes-Alpes, Var et le Vaucluse) (1892-1986)
(23/07/1943 - Mai 1944) Marie Joseph Jean Chaigneau, Préfet de la région de Marseille (Alpes-Maritimes, Basses-Alpes (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence), Bouches-du-Rhône, Corse, Gard, Hautes-Alpes, Var et le Vaucluse). Arrêté en mai 1944 par les Allemands, il est déporté au camp d'Eisenberg
Jean Moyon(08/1944 - 09/1944) Préfet des Alpes-Maritimes
Raymond Aubrac(1944 - 1945) Raymond Aubrac, de son vrai nom Raymond Samuel, Commissaire de la République de la région de Marseille (Alpes-Maritimes, Basses-Alpes (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence), Bouches-du-Rhône, Corse, Gard, Hautes-Alpes, Var et le Vaucluse) (1914)
Paul Haag(1945 - 1946) Paul Maurice Louis Haag, Commissaire de la République de la région de Marseille (Alpes-Maritimes, Basses-Alpes (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence), Bouches-du-Rhône, Corse, Gard, Hautes-Alpes, Var et le Vaucluse) (1891-1976)
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La Pierre des Juifs
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Andrée Poch Karsenti
Les 527 enfants d'Odette et Moussa
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Journal, 20 décembre 1940-24 septembre 1943
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Vichy, la Pègre et les Nazis, La traque des Juifs en Provence
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The Marcel Network: How One French Couple Saved 527 Children from the Holocaust
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Nice, Caserne Auvare : Les transferts de Juifs de la région préfectorale de Nice... et de la principauté de Monaco vers le camp de Drancy en vue de leur déportation, août-septembre 1942
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L'innocence et la ruse
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Nice 06000 - Alpes-Maritimes
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Daniel Mayer, Mélanie et Daniel Lévy et leurs filles Marthe Lévy et Renée Mayer en mai-juin 1939 à Nice
source photo : Coll. Yad Vashem
crédit photo : D.R.
Eléonore* et François Giribone*, habitaient Nice et étaient les parents de deux enfants : Claude et Sylvain.
Artisans, les époux Giribone ont caché deux familles juives, la famille Lévy et les époux Mayer.
Mélanie et Daniel Lévy et leur fille Marthe resteront pendant plusieurs mois, à l'automne 1943, dans leur entrepôt situé rue Saint-Philippe à Nice, ainsi que leur fille Renée et son mari Daniel Mayer.
Daniel Lévy, né en 1880 en Allemagne avait épousé à Redange (Luxembourg) Mélanie née en 1911 à Redange. Ils avaient deux filles née à Bollendorf (Allemagne) : Renée Irène en 1911 et Marthe en 1913.
Ils quittent l’Allemagne en 1939 et viennent s’installer à Nice près de leur fille Renée et son mari Daniel Mayer. Daniel Mayer tient rue du Châteauneuf à Nice un magasin de fournitures pour peintres en bâtiment et beaucoup de ses clients étaient artisans peintres.
Le 24 août 1940, Renée donne naissance à Nice à une petite fille prénommée Suzanne.
Marthe, la plus jeune fille des Lévy, vient rejoindre sa famille à Nice en 1940.
En 1943, les Allemands remplacent les Italiens dans cette zone de la France. Renée et Daniel Mayer décident de placer Suzanne âgée de trois ans à l'institution religieuse la Villa Apraxine à Nice. C’est après l’avoir déposée qu’ils rencontrent François Giribone*, un de leurs clients, à qui ils expliquent leur peur et les dangers qu’ils courent. Spontanément, François Giribone* leur propose de les héberger ainsi que leurs parents et Marthe dans un atelier où il rangeait ses pots de peinture et qui se trouvait en face du domicile où il habitait avec son épouse et son fils Claude âgé de dix-huit mois. L’endroit étant fort exigu, c’était Eléonore Giribone* qui leur faisait la cuisine.
La famille Lévy possédait des faux papiers au nom de Laurens, ce qui permettait à Marthe de sortir pour trouver du ravitaillement.
En novembre 1943, Marthe Lévy se souvient avoir aidé Eléonore Giribone* à mettre au monde son deuxième enfant.
Le temps devenant de plus en plus froid, les familles ne pouvaient plus continuer à rester dans l’atelier. Marthe et ses parents, munis de faux papiers partent alors à Lavaur dans le Tarn.
Renée et Daniel Mayer et leur fillette Suzanne parviennent à passer en Suisse clandestinement où ils passeront le reste de la guerre dans un camp de réfugiés à Finhaut près de Martigny dans le Valais.
Après la guerre, les familles ne se sont pas perdu de vue et ont toujours entretenu des relations d’amitié.
Le 20 Juillet 2011, l’Institut Yad Vashem de Jérusalem a décerné le titre de Justes parmi les nations à François Giribone* et son épouse Eléonore Giribone*.
Each of us could write a novel
My name is Daniel Mayer, born on January 10, 1908 in Bollendorf, a small village near the county seat of Bitburg (Kreis Bitburg, Bezirk Trier), across from Luxemburg, on the Sauer River. Half of the village is Luxemburger and the other half is German. It was a beautiful village that attracted many tourists and had many hotels, for example the Hauer or Michels (Hotel de la Poste) or Wirtz on the Luxemburg side. In the summer it was a nice area, tourists took walks in the forests. In the winter, there was snow and in January there was often flooding when the Sauer overflowed its banks.
We were 8 children and I was the youngest. My sisters and brothers had made up a song when I was born: “You, we didn’t need.” We were 5 brothers and 3 sisters (Moritz 1891-1943, Paulina 1892-1942, Johanetta 1894-1978, Max 1896-1992, Julius 1897-1918, Sally 1900-1971 and Bertha 1902-1942), the grandmother (Minetta Bonem born Lévy 1838-1924) and my parents (Salomon 1865-1932 et Babette born Bonem 1864-1942). We had a wonderful, unforgettable family life. My grandmother was my mother’s mother and lived with us, she came from Bollendorf and was called Tante Minette. Her maiden name was Levy and she was a sister of Marx Levy. She married Moses Bonem (1829-1868) from Trittenheim. She helped with the housework. When she could not see so well anymore, her grandchildren would say to her: ”Grossmutter, now you have worked hard enough, sit down and rest” and she would cry and say: ”I always did all the work and now they won’t let me help.” When I came on vacation, I always brought her presents, aprons, or shoes or knit sweaters and she was very proud that her children took good care of her.
I never knew my grandmother’s brother, Uncle Hermann Levy, also a brother of Marx Levy, who died in 1914 and had a roof-tiles business. He was born handicapped and walked with crutches. He was very learned, people came to ask his advice. My mother took over the tile business after he died, she was already in charge of the bookkeeping; she was also well educated.
My grandmother died in the 20’s, she was very old. My mother was born in 1863 in Trittenheim, her name was Babette Bonem and she married Salomon Mayer who was born in 1865 in Könen near Trier. My father had a brother Victor in Könen who had a reputation as a drinker. Even when someone drank water, we would say he was a “Shaskener” like Uncle Victorchen. He was a baker in Könen and Daniel Levy apprenticed with him. My father had an older brother named Karl who lived in Bollendorf. He was married to Tante Adèle and had a son Siegfried who had married Isaac’s Delphine from Bollendorf. Uncle Karl worked with my father as “eitzes geber” [advice giver] and as “balsasser” [intermediary] and he would earn a small commission. He was not a hard worker and not very sharp. When we were expecting smuggled horses coming from Luxemburg, Uncle Karl would pace up and down around the border bridge between Luxemburg and Bollendorf and he would make everyone nervous because he ran the risk of being noticed by the customs officers. He was not a “Chochem” but he was very nice. My father had 2 sisters, one in Hopstädten, Bertha Weill, wife of Moses Weill, and a sister Fanny in Gemünde who had married Gustav Strauss, a cattle dealer. Bertha had one son, Elias, who fell during the First World War, and 4 daughters: Selma who married Albert Levy from Bollendorf, the parents of Bella from Pittsburgh; and also Sophie who married a Stern, Mina who married a Mayer and Betty and Ida. Fanny and Gustav had Selma, the wife of Jack Hayum from Vineland, New Jersey, Julius also from Vineland, and Moritz.
My father was a cattle dealer, he was a good man, he took good care of his family, made his children become educated and gave them lessons. He helped people who were poor and had troubles. He gave money to charity associations. He was a very capable businessman. He was a pious man, he went to synagogue often, he was President of the Board of Directors and never missed a Friday night or a Saturday morning service. He knew a lot about religion and the precepts, he went to the Maariv and Minha services. He knew how to read from the Torah and often led the services. Every morning, he put on his tefilin and said his prayers. He would remind me often to put on mine and sent me to do it if I had forgotten.
When his mother-in-law wandered around the house at night, he would promise her money if she stayed in bed and did not get up during the night. That money, she put aside for me and the other children. My father was very heavy and had a good appetite. He went around in a horse-drawn carriage to look for horses to buy and sell and he sent the “meshores” [employee] to bring them back. When he went to Trier every 2 weeks to the horse market, a stable boy accompanied him with the horses for sale and brought back the ones he had bought. There, he would meet the Thals of Bernkastel [Herta Eichberg from Israel was a Thal daughter] who were his friends and with whom he did business. One day, my father took me to Bernkastel to visit them for 2-3 days and we were very well received.
Later on, my father bought a car, an NSU (Neckers-Ulm), which was driven by either my brother Max or the employee. My father had studied in Könen until the age of 15 and then he learned the trade of cattle dealer. He came to Bollendorf and married my mother around 1885. When he left in the morning, he would take a little sandwich, and if he did not get to eat it, he would bring it back home in the evening and give it to me, telling me he had gotten it from the mouth of a rabbit (HasenBrot). He sometimes went to Hopstädten to see his sisters. He also went with my mother to visit my sisters Netta in Wiesbaden-Bierstadt, Paula in Cochem and Bertha in Differdingen. He also accompanied my mother when she went to the baths at Wiesbaden. He died young at age 67, in 1932, in Bollendorf.
My mother Babette went to school in the city of Luxembourg and she learned French and English. She was very well educated and also had studied business. She took care of my father’s bookkeeping because many horses were sold on credit and you had to know what you were doing. She also ran Uncle Herman’s tile business, she put in orders and sold and did the bookkeeping. I remember that when there was a tile delivery, we would unload down below by the garage on a big piece of land near the Sauer and we would count by 2’s: 2-4-6-…etc. My mother had help at home -- a cleaning lady, my sisters, a laundry lady to do the wash, the ironing and mending. She had rhumatisms in the joints and her hands were very swollen and misshapen. She died in 1942 of a natural death in Bollendorf after having been shipped to Wolfenbüttel near Berlin where all the Bollendorf people had been sent to allow for the construction of the Siegfried Line. Her daughter Paula and her husband Leo Hein were with her.
On the occasion of St Nicolas, we would get presents -- fruit, apples, pears, candy in a basket, and I would recognize my mother’s hands misshapen by arthritis pushing the basket inside the room while hiding behind the door. The evening of Nicklaus’s arrival, on December 6, we would stand behind the door and sing: “Lustig, Lustig, Tralalala, Nu ist Nicklaus’Abend da. Nicklaus war ein guter mann der gut “achel” und “schask’ne” kann!. [Joyful, Joyful, tralalala, Finally St Nicolas eve is here. Nicolas was a good man who knew how to eat and drink well.]
My brother Salli once teased me by saying: “Quick, go behind the door and sing Nicklaus, Nicklaus“ so I started singing, but it wasn’t even St Nicolas.
The construction works of the Siegfried Line caused the destruction of the Jewish cemetery in Bollendorf. Once the work was completed, non-Jews were authorized to go home, but the Jews from Bollendorf and neighboring villages were all assigned to live in one house. Daniel Levy’s house had been sold in 1939 and was occupied by the buyer, a certain Doekendorf. Later on, these Jews were all sent to Trier to another house and from there they were then shipped to the concentration camps. That’s what happened to Paula and her husband Léo Hein. My mother died before the deportations began.
The eldest of my brothers was Maurice (Moritz), he was 18 years older than me. He was the owner of a big store specializing in textiles, clothing and underwear in Wittlich, on the Mosel, near Trier, called “Josef und Mayer”. He married late, with Mimi, and had a son Carlo. He left Germany at the beginning of the war and settled in Malmédy in Belgium where he had a wholesale textile business. Then they moved to Liege. He was deported to concentration camp with his family.
After Moritz came Paula, the oldest of the sisters, the mother of Helen from Saint Louis and of Friedl. Her husband was Leo Hein from Cochem by the River Mosel, he was a cattle dealer. She had learned to cook at the “Pension Winter” in Wiesbaden where my mother Babette Mayer stayed when she went to the spa. She was deported to concentration camp with her husband. Their oldest daughter Helen was in hiding in Marseilles during the war and survived, she left for America to join her aunt Netta and uncle Max in 1946. Friedl, the youngest, went to France with Bertha and Siegmund Lazard (her aunt and uncle) and Renéechen (her cousin). They found shelter in Verteuil-en-Charente where Renée died of illness, and from there all three of them were deported to concentration camp.
Netta was the next one, Johanetta, who married Karl Mayer from Bierstadt-Wiesbaden and had a son Walter. Netta also learned to cook at the kosher “Pension Winter” in Wiesbaden. Karl was a cattle dealer. They emigrated to St Louis before the war, around 1937-38. Karl died in the 60’s and Netta in 78. Karl was very kind and affectionate. Walter married Helene and had 3 daughters, Gail, Nancy and Debbie.
Max is the fourth in the family, he had taken over his father Salomon’s business and had stayed in Bollendorf. He was a fine horse rider, and during the 1914-18 War he served in the cavalry, the “Siebten Jäger” in Trier [7th Hunters]. He married Hedy from Birkenfeld and they had 2 sons: Freddy (Manfred) and Kurt. They left Germany in 1936 and settled in De Soto, near Saint Louis, Missouri, where he had a farm and raised cattle and grew some crops. Uncle Max retired in St Louis and Freddy continued to run the farm and also taught mathematics at the De Soto High School. Freddy and his wife Liz had Linda, Susan and Michael. Kurt and Eva started a real estate business and had 2 sons, Barry and Ronnie. Max died in 1992 at the age of 96 and Hedy in 1995 at 94.
Julius was the fifth one, he was a handsome boy, he died 3 weeks before the end of the war of 14-18 in Verdun at the age of 21. We have photographs of his grave at the military cemetery.
Salli was the sixth one. He didn’t serve in the 14-18 war because he was exempted because of his health. He worked in Wittlich in the textile business of his brother Maurice. He was a very good salesman. He visited his customers with Maurice’s collection. He would arrive in a village and in each house, he would sell the same material. He married Else Hess from Wittlich and had 2 sons: Micha and Gadi. They emigrated to Israel in 1936. Salli worked in a dairy near Tel-Aviv and had a few cows. He died in 1971 of prostate cancer. Else died in 1997. Gadi and Micha are married and still live near Tel Aviv.
Bertha is the seventh, she married Siegmund Lazard from Differdange (Differdingen) in Luxembourg. He was a cattle dealer too and also had a wholesale butcher business. They had a little girl, Renéechen, who died young of illness during the war. Bertha and Siegmund were deported to concentration camp from Verteuil in the Charente region in France.
As for me, I was the last one. I went to elementary school in Bollendorf and then I went to the Gymnasium [High School] in Cochem. To prepare for high school, I took private Latin lessons from the Catholic priest of Bollendorf. I had a lot of friends in school, we played soccer, we did sports, I started riding horses at the age of 6. The stable boys were my friends and let me ride even though my parents had forbidden it.
I was pretty “Chutspedig.” One day, I was sent to the grocery store to buy pepper and I bought peppermints instead.
My brother Salli saved me from drowning once when children teased me: “Look at that hen in the Sauer River, go get it quick, you can still cook it,” and I went in and almost drowned but my brother Salli was coming home from school right then. he jumped in the water and caught me by my hair which was still very long. I went home and my sister Netta was sewing at the sewing machine and I went close to her and she says to me: “Give me a kiss” and she realized that I was soaking wet. She was very upset and sent me straight to bed in broad daylight and for me, that was a serious punishment. From then on, we called my brother Salli “Salli Mayer, Lebensretter” (Life Saver).
We would go to the forest to cut wood, which was forbidden because it was a private forest and the warden would chase after us. When I came back from the forest with a nice branch, my grandmother would say to me: “ Come, you deserve a nice piece of bread and butter!”
We would go pick blueberries in the forest with a bucket when it was the season. When people found a nice spot full of blueberries, they would say they had seen wild animals there.
I learned Hebrew with the hazan of the community and I didn’t like to go there because his house smelled of mildew. He lived near the Sauer in the house of Daniel Levi’s mother Caroline, which was regularly flooded and never had time to dry between floods. Julius Levy, the hazan, came from Cochem to help me prepare for my Bar-Mitzvah. He was newly married and would bring his wife to the Cheder, set her in his lap and ask the students: “Who has the most beautiful wife in Bollendorf?” and the whole class would answer: “Herr Lehrer Levy [Mr. Teacher Levy]”. The sidra for my Bar-Mitzvah was ”Beshalah”.
One day, a client of my father’s came to buy a horse. We showed him several and he liked one of them, and I said to the buyer that the horse limped and my father said right away: “Du bist ein Tüchtiger Mann, du sagst die Fehle des Pferdes zum Kaufer “[You are a clever man, you tell the customer about the horses’ defects].
After elementary school, I went to Cochem to High School where I learned Latin, French and English. I was eleven or twelve years old. I lived with my sister Paula who had just gotten married. When farmers would come to their house on business and they asked who I was, my brother-in-law Leo would answer about his wife: “Den hat Sie gehabt” [She already had that one]. One day they sent me to Seel to buy cheese, it was 3 or 4 Kilometers on foot. When I came back after a few hours, Helen, my niece, was born, and I was told she had just arrived by train from Coblenz. I found that strange and I even went to the train station to check on the train schedule, but there was no train and the story didn’t fit. I did not know anything about how babies are born.
I stayed in Cochem for 3 years. I was not a very good student. I had a lot of friends in school, Rudi Hirsch for example. I played soccer and other sports. I took violin lessons and I didn’t like it very much, I had to go to Seel, 3kms away and if on the way I saw a game of soccer being played, I would lean my violin against a tree and go play instead of going to the lesson.
At age 14, I went away on my apprenticeship. My father took me to Merzig by train with my suitcase and clothes and things. On the way, my father noticed that there was a hole in my sock. He took out the can of black shoe polish and put some on my skin where the hole was. It was a 3 to 4 hour trip. I went to work for Emil Kahn who had built a three-story department store and sold clothing, material, shoes and furniture. In the same store, my oldest brother Moritz was already working as head salesman, he had already worked there twenty years before for Abraham Kahn, the father of the present owner. I lived with the Kahns in their villa on Saarbrücken Allée, I shared a room with another apprentice, Julius Schloss, we slept in the same bed. Julius always rolled on me while sleeping and I would tell him: “Don’t come too close to me while I sleep because I have a disease, “Gefallene Krankheit,” and when I have fits I start hitting.” And so Julius was afraid to come too close and he left me a lot of room in the bed. [Julius Schloss emigrated to the U.S, we found him in Skokie, IL and we called him.]
On Sunday morning, we had to clean the villa. Sometimes I would go to farmers to buy chickens for the Kahn family, they were alive and we had to have them “Geschecht” [killed ritually]. All the meals were taken with the family, all of us together at the same table. I was good friends with the maid Marie, she came from Merl and would always spoil me, she put aside desserts for me, sausages. Mrs. Kahn would keep an eye on what the employees were eating, she was very stingy and would say to my brother Moritz: “Herr Mayer, essen Sie Konfitur, es ist Teuerer wie die Butter,” and my brother would reply: “Die Butter ist mir teuer genug” [Mr. Mayer, eat jam, it’s more expensive than butter… Butter is expensive enough for me].
Everyday except Sunday, we were at the store. I would straighten out, make sure that every item had a label and I also sold in the shoe department. I remember that if we had a difficult customer for a suit, we would put some money in the pocket of the suit and when he tried it on, we would say:” Try to put your hands in the pockets” and when he felt the money, he would decide to take the suit and at the register, we would remove the money. What a circus! That was something else! If a customer left without buying, we would run after him to tell him to come back because he had forgotten something in the store and Emil Kahn would then ask him if this umbrella was his, or something else, and the customer would say no, but then the boss would take over to try and sell him something. If we noticed that someone had stolen something, we didn’t say: ”You stole something” but we said: ”What is the size of the item you have in your bag?” and people had to pay. There were a lot of shoplifters, you had to watch out and if we recognized someone who had tried to steal before we would warn the other salesmen by saying: ”Show this lady the new DLG shoes” [DLG=Das Luder Ganneft]. Once, a customer left with merchandise and we noticed when we were straightening out that a pair of pants from one suit was missing, a vest from another, and that they had been stolen. We went to the train station and found the merchandise in the restrooms at the train station.
Emil Kahn had a son who was younger than me, Walter. I went to his Bar Mitzvah and I would bring him to our house in Bollendorf on vacation. When his mother gave birth to his sister, he was very sad and said: ”I just lost half my fortune.” Mrs. Kahn also helped at the store, she was very capable, when a bolt of material did not sell well, she would have a dress made for herself in that material and when women customers came in, she would take them aside and say: ”Here, I’ll let you have 3 yards of that for yourself too.”
After 3 ½ years, I left Merzig to go work in Colmar in Elsass [Alsace], where a traveling salesman had found a job for me with Chaussures Franzen in the Bäcker Gasse. I had a room and took my meals at the Geismar Kosher Pension. I was an apprentice and shoe salesman. I liked the city. On Sundays we would take a walk with friends, there were many Jewish gatherings. They called me the “Schwob” [from Swabia]. After a while, I became homesick for my mother, I called her and she said to come home. Later, I went to work with my brother Moritz in his store in Wittlich. Salli also worked there, he was a traveling salesman. Then I went to work with Edward Wolf in Düsseldorf, he sold fabrics. I stayed there 2-3 years and I had a room in their house.
Then I worked for C. Heinrich Starcke in Schlettau (Moenchengladbach), near Leipzig, in the Erz Gebirge [mountains], a manufacturer of curtains and supplies for window treatment. I was a traveling salesman for them. Around 1933, I went to show the collection of samples to a customer and he asked me if I was Jewish. I answered yes and he showed me the door and said “Raus” [Get Out]. In the evening I wrote my report to my boss and told him that I had the impression this customer wanted to copy my collection and have the models executed by a competitor and that I had therefore left. My boss called me to congratulate me. That was my last job in Germany before coming to France, and I quit in 1935.
In Düsseldorf, it was necessary to protect the synagogue; at night we took turns watching it and standing guard, sometimes we had to beat the Nazis with a stick, there were 5 or 6 of us.
I was part of a soccer team, the Macchabees, and we had tournaments. Sometimes the referee was very mean; if it looked as though our team was about to win, he would call for extensions until the other team won.
I had a lot of friends, men and also lady friends, we would go out a lot, went on walks, boat rides, traveled to sea resorts (for example to Knocke Le Zoute, in Belgium). One day I brought a lady friend to Bollendorf. She stayed in a hotel and I stayed at home, and she walked down the street, and my brother calls me to the window and points to this woman. I don’t tell him that I know her and I bet him that I can seduce her on the spot. I run after her, talk to her and bring her back to introduce her to my brother, who is astonished. When my mother asked if she was Jewish, I answered: “Nanicht, ein Rabbiner’s Tochter “ [And how, a rabbi’s daughter].
I also went out to concerts and the opera with my friend Paul Nussbaum. He was a great music lover and would conduct the orchestra from his seat along with the conductor. We were often together, but when I wanted to go out alone, I would tell him: “What’s the matter, you don’t feel well? You look a little pale.” And since he was a little anxious and concerned about his health, he would go to bed.
A friend of mine, Paul Rosenthal, was a paint manufacturer in Düsseldorf, we would go out together. He was the one who told me about the store for sale in Nice, which was called CPCM (Comptoir des Produits Chimiques et Métallurgiques) and he handled the purchase. We bought it together from Horst Weinberger who then emigrated to South Africa. (He came back to Nice in the 70’s with his wife Renée and he was very nice and a good friend; he lived up the street from Rue Chateauneuf and died around 1985). We paid with money my mother had given me. We gave the money to a person I didn’t know with whom we had set up an appointment in a post office. She had a piece of a postcard, I had the other piece and both fit together and that’s how the deal was concluded. In 1935, I left for Nice and I worked in the store with Paul Rosenthal. The store was at 6 Rue Bardon. I had a visa for 2 months and I lived at 4 Rue Bardon at Madame Mouton’s. I thought Nice was very beautiful, with the sun and the palm trees, I thought I was in a dream. I went to synagogue on Rue Dubouchage with Polnische Jews, there were quite a few interested parties who came to see me to marry off their daughter. The Merovka family in particular wanted me to marry Irène their daughter with whom I played tennis. They would ask me about my business. “Schänes Geschäft” [a nice business you have] they would say, and I would answer: “Viele Chovet” [Many debts]. That cooled them off.
I spoke a little French that I had learned in school. Paul Rosenthal told me that when I visited our customers, the painters, I should ask them: “How‘s it going?” [Ça gaze?]. I would visit our customers and transport the merchandise ordered on the back of my bike. My visa was extended several times until it finally became permanent, especially after I married a French national. I did not have a lot of money and I would go to the beach at lunchtime instead of eating. In the evening, I would say Bon Appétit and go to sleep without eating.
One day, after I had accumulated some savings, I wrote my mother in Bollendorf to ask if Renée was married. Since she was free, I wrote to her in London where she was working for the Kujinski family as an “au-pair” to learn English and I asked her to marry me and she said yes. Her father Daniel Levy was a first cousin of my mother’s, his father was the brother of my maternal grandmother. Renée came to visit me in Nice for a few days, she stayed in a hotel and I was not allowed to go up to her room, I had to wait for her downstairs.
The wedding took place in Echternach on January 3rd, 1938, at Nussbaum’s. We had a meal with the family, my brothers and sisters, my mother, my in-laws Daniel and Mela Levy, my sister-in-law Marthe, Uncle Marcel and Tante Marthe on the Grosbous side. Rabbi Serebrenick from Luxembourg married us. We got married on January 10, 1938 in the City Hall of Thionville in France so that Renée would not lose her French nationality. On our honeymoon, we went to Milan to the Hotel Rosa and we went to La Scala and saw “Carmen.”
Our first apartment was at 32 Rue Chateauneuf, 4th Floor. Rosenthal left at the beginning of the war and I bought his shares, or actually, Marthe bought the shares because the business had to be owned by French nationals, in 1939. In September 39, war broke out and I enlisted as a volunteer in the French army, but they wouldn’t take me because of my flat feet. I had even brought Renée with me to the barracks and I asked if she could live with me there. The sergeant told me: “But Sir, just imagine, if everyone brought his wife!”
On September 3rd, 1939, the Ministry of the Interior decreed “the rounding up of foreigners coming from the German Empire” and their internment at the Fort Carré d’Antibes. Daniel Levy, Renée’s father and I, we spent 2 months there and then we were interned in the Camp des Milles, near Aix-en-Provence, in an old tile factory. We were then transferred to another internment camp, St Nicolas, near Avignon, a branch of Les Milles. We were eventually liberated because we both had French wives.
In August 1940, Nice was still a free city, but soon after it was occupied by the Italians. We had to put blue paper on the windows because of the curfew. There was a shortage of heating material, wood was sold by weight and they wet it to weigh even more. The French militia began making lists of Jews. Their food ration cards and their identity papers were stamped with the word JEW. Foreigners were protected by the Italians. We had to hide, Daniel Lévy and I, under the roof of the apartment building we lived in. Food was scarce. Renée Irène and Marthe who could still go out, had to go up to the hills to farmers to try and find carrots and oil to feed Suzanne, there was no milk.
In 1943, the Germans arrived. Raids began immediately. From our apartment along the train track, we began to see the deportation trains. Many foreigners were taken.
Then the store was placed under the guardianship of a Government administrator, in accordance with the instructions of the Vichy government. That administrator had the keys to the store, the accountant also had the key, it was as though the store did not belong to us any more. We had hidden the merchandise with customers. We were in hiding at our neighbors’. We all had false papers.
In 1937, Helen, my niece, left Germany and went to Luxembourg. She stayed there from 1937 to January 1941 and when Luxembourg became occupied and had to be “Juden Frei” [Free of Jews], she left for Marseille. She joined the thousands of refugees already there. Marseille was an important harbor in free France, a gathering point. Helen was traveling with some friends and she wrote us in Nice, we wanted her to come join us but we didn’t have room for her traveling companions (2 rooms for 6 people). But I wanted to give her money and Marthe was the only one who could bring it to her. She took the train but had no address, she had to ask for the refugees and finally was shown a big building, a former warehouse on the Harbor where the refugees were housed and could get meals. No sign of Helen. Finally, by pure luck Marthe recognized Alfred Levy from Bollendorf, Gustav’s brother, who always wore some kind of hat. He was able to tell her that Helen came in the evening for dinner, but didn’t sleep there. So Marthe gave her some money. Helen managed to spend the war working for a family in Cassis near Marseille, and in 1946, with the help of Uncle Max and Tante Netta, she left for America.
After a period of hiding, in 1943, at our friends Eléonore* and François Giribone* and in a convent, the Mayers left Nice and entered Switzerland clandestinely. Switzerland accepted as refugees families with a child under the age of 6. Marthe, Mélanie and Daniel Lévy went to the southwest of France where they lived on a farm and survived the war.
We all found ourselves in Nice again in 1944. The store reopened and we started working again. Life was hard, there was very little food, but slowly things got back to normal.”
This account was started on December 2nd, 1997 and was dictated to me in French by my father Daniel Mayer over a period of about 18 months, until the time of his death. We called it: Each of us could write a novel.
This is where Daniel Mayer, my father, stopped the story of his life. Life improved for the family, Nice was building and rebuilding. Beatrice, my sister , was born in 1946. My grandparents Mélanie and Daniel Lévy lived very near us and we saw them everyday until they died in 1968 and 1971.
Auteur : Daniel Mayer
Source : KehilaLinks
Lien : JewishGen
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1 Les enfants et amis Abadi (Voir le site Les enfants et amis Abadi, remarquable !
Odette Rosenstock et Moussa Abadi avec le concours de Monseigneur Paul Rémond, Archevêque-Évêque de Nice, ont créé le réseau Marcel pour lutter contre le nazisme et les lois antijuives de Vichy. Ils ont caché et sauvé, dans le diocèse de Nice, 527 enfants juifs de 1942 à 1944.
« Les Enfants et Amis Abadi » est une association loi 1901 créée le 4 mai 2000 par Jeannette Wolgust. Elle a pour but de réunir les amis et les enfants cachés par Odette et Moussa Abadi, afin de préserver et perpétuer leur mémoire, et plus généralement de préserver et perpétuer la mémoire de la Shoah. )
2 Association pour la Mémoire des Enfants Juifs Déportés des Alpes Maritimes (l’AMEJDAM a été créée, à l’initiative de fils et filles de déportés, d’enfants cachés et d’anciens élèves des écoles de Nice et des Alpes-Maritimes, afin de pérenniser la mémoire des enfants juifs scolarisés dans ces établissements, arrêtés et exterminés en déportation, durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. )
3 Guide des Archives départementales des Alpes maritimes (Guide des sources d'histoire de la Seconde Guerre mondiale conservées aux Archives départementales des Alpes maritimes )
4 La répression de la Résistance dans les Alpes-Maritimes (La répression de la Résistance par Vichy et par les occupants dans les Alpes-Maritimes. Dossier édité par le Musée de la Résistance azuréenne dans la perspective du Concours de la Résistance et de la Déportation. Il fournit un aperçu régional et des documents originaux, ainsi que des exemples de lieux de mémoire. )
5 Camp de Saliers. 1942-1944. Une mémoire en héritage. (Histoires et mémoires du camp d'internement pour Nomades de Saliers (Bouches-du-Rhône) ayant accueilli près de 700 voyageurs, sinti, manouches, gitans, yeniches, mais aussi forains, dont 26 ne sont pas revenus… Na bister! (N'oublions pas!) )
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|* Juste parmi les Nations||
Justes parmi les Nations - Righteous among the Nations - De Gerechten mank de Völker - Giusti tra le nazioni - Drept între popoare - Gerechter unter den Völkern - Sprawiedliwy wsród Narodów Swiata - Rechtvaardige onder de Volkeren - Justuloj inter la popoloj - Rättfärdig bland folken - Spravodlivý medzi národmi - Spravedlivý mezi národy - Vanhurskaat kansakuntien joukossa - Világ Igaza - Justos entre as nações - Justos entre las Naciones - Justos entre les Nacions
|© Lhoumeau, Marchal 2008 2019|