Three Soldiers – Three Brothers? – Fallen for France: Hermann, Jules, and Max Boers

The sources of historical and genealogical information about twentieth century military servicemen – official documents; private correspondence; photographs; news items; ephemera, and more – are vast.  And even among the historical records of any particular nation, one finds tremendous variation – over time, in different theatres of military operations; among and between different branches of the armed forces – in the way that information is recorded, categorized, and (hopefully!) preserved.       

Regardless of the era or conflict; regardless of the country in question; such military archival information can reveal patterns, relationships, and interactions encompassing both military service and civilian life.  The fragments of history can coalesce; suggesting; revealing; unfolding a larger, often unexpected story. 

As, seems to be the case presented below…

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In an effort to identify Jewish military casualties in the French armed forces during the First Wodl War, I’ve relied upon two books – Les Israelites dans l’Armée Française (1914-1918) and, Le Livre d’or du Judaïsme Algérien (1914-1918) as the primary, central (and perhaps exclusive?) published works listing names of fallen French Jewish soldiers. 

Specific bibliographic information about these works is given below:

1) Les Israelites dans l’Armée Française (1914-1918) (Israelites [Jews] in the French Army), Angers, 1921 – Avant-Propos de la Deuxième Épreuve [Forward to the Second Edition], Albert Manuel, Paris, Juillet, 1921 – (Réédité par le Cercle de Généalogie juive [Reissued by the Circle for Jewish Genealogy], Paris, 2000)

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2) Le Livre d’or du Judaïsme Algérien (1914-1918) (The Gold Book of Algerian Jewry (1914-1918), 1919 – Pubication du Comiée Algérien d’Études Sociales 1er fascicule septembre 1919 ((Réédité par le Cercle de Généalogie juive [Reissued by the Circle for Jewish Genealogy], Paris, 2000) – Avec la collaboration de Georges Teboul et de Jean-Pierre Bernard.

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Then, it was a process of on-line searching: The French Government’s SGA (Secrétariat Général pour l’Administration “General Secretariat for Administration”) databases covering World War One deaths and military casualties were thoroughly searched to identify and download records for the names listed in these two books.  The specific databases used in this endeavor have been “Died for France in the First World War” (for “PARTIE À REMPLIR PAR LE CORPS (‘PART TO BE COMPLETED BY THE CORPS’)” forms), “War Graves”, and to a much lesser extent, “Military Aviation Personnel.” 

Links for the three databases are given below:  

Morts pour la France de la Première Guerre mondiale (“Died for France in the First World War”)

Sépultures de Guerre (“War Graves”)

Personnels de l’aéronautique militaire (“Military Aviation Personnnel”)

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Though the above books have been absolutely essential in this endeavor, like other historical reference works (particularly those published very shortly after a historical event) they do manifest a variety of not unexpected problems. 

These include the absence of names, the presentation of information about the same person under multiple name variants, names for which other information is in error or fragmentary, and finally, names for which no equivalent (even a rough phonetic equivalent) can be identified at any of the SGA databases. 

The image below – a example of the notes I made in my copy of Les Israelites dans l’Armée Française (1914-1918) while researching the Morts pour la France de la Première Guerre mondiale database – shows the challenges involved.  The circled dots indicate names definitively identified using the Morts pour la France de la Première Guerre mondiale database.  Left-pointing arrows indicate names for which no record could be found.  (Well, the last time I searched…)  Finally, names connected by arrows indicate variants of the same name.  For example, “Mimoun Borianiche” and “Mimoun Bouaniche” are one and the same soldier.

This isn’t meant to detract from the efforts of the creators of these compilations.  Given the challenges they likely faced – incorrect, missing, or fragmentary original records, the simple unavailability of records, and, efforts constrained by limited staff, time, and other resources – they generated laudabl, historically invaluable, and above all necessary works.

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The records – the “hits” – generated by the SGA website comprise low-resolution (96 dpi) scans (from microfilm?) of “PARTIE À REMPLIR PAR LE CORPS (‘PART TO BE COMPLETED BY THE CORPS’)” forms.  The information fields on these forms comprise a soldier’s surname, given (first) and middle names, military grade, military unit, matriculation number in class, number, date and place of recruitment, date of death, place of death, cause of death, date of birth, and place of birth (Department in France, or name of another country.)

A very helpful discussion about the forms, by Thierry Sabot (with various talk-backs – one as recently as June of 2017) can be found at the History-Genealogy Magazine website.)

On arriving at page 18 of Les Israelites dans l’Armée Française, I noted something intriguing; curious, and above all – portentously sad:  Four soldiers with the surname “Boers”, three of whom were born in Amsterdam during a three-year time frame.  The page is shown below:

The three from Amsterdam men were Hermann Boers, Jules Boers, and Max Boers.  (The fourth “Boers” was Michel, from Paris.)

Upon reviewing their PARTIE À REMPLIR PAR LE CORPS forms for the three men, a relationship suggested itself. 

1) Their matriculation numbers are immediately sequential: 26749 for Jules, 26750 for Max, and 26751 for Herman. 

2) All served in the 2ème Régiment de Marche du 1er Régiment Etranger. 

3) Jules and Max were killed on the same day, and at the same place: May 9, 1915, at Neuville-Saint-Vaast.  Both were missing (“disparu”), and will probably always be missing. 

Hermann was killed on September 28, 1915, at Souain, and was known to have been killed by the enemy (“Tué a l’ennemi”). 

4) Max, born on March 10, 1885, was the oldest.  Hermann was born thirteen months later, on June 11, 1886.  Jules, the youngest, was born eleven months after Hermann, on July 13, 1887.

All of which leads to a question:  Were they brothers?

I do not know. 

Unfortunately, PARTIE À REMPLIR PAR LE CORPS forms neither list the names of a serviceman’s next of kin, nor give his residential address.  Such information would be the key that answer the question.  But, the signs seem to point in that direction.

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One hundred and two years – over a century – have transpired since their deaths.  “Our” world is not the same as theirs – how could it be? – but I would like to think that one thing has remained unchanged in human nature: The need to remember. 

At least – in the world of 2017 – I hope so.

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Specific information about the men, and images of their PARTIE À REMPLIR PAR LE CORPS forms, is presented below.

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– .ת. נ. צ. ב. ה

Jules

Boers, Jules, Soldat de 2ème classe, Légion étrangère, 2ème Régiment de Marche du 1er Régiment Etranger
No. 26749 au Corps E.V. 1914
Matricule S.M. 3245 au Recrutement Seine Central
Born July 13, 1887, Amsterdam, Hollande
Missing [Disparu]
May 9, 1915; Pas-de-Calais, Neuville-Saint-Vaast
Not listed in Sépultures de guerre database

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Max

Boers, Max, Soldat de 2ème classe, Légion étrangère, 2ème Régiment de Marche du 1er Régiment Etranger
No. 26750 au Corps E.V. 191_
Matricule S.M. 2709 au Recrutement Seine B.C.
Born March 10, 1885, Amsterdam, Hollande
Missing [Disparu]
May 9, 1915; Pas-de-Calais, Neuville-Saint-Vaast
Not listed in Sépultures de guerre database

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Hermann

Boers, Hermann, Soldat de 2ème classe, Légion étrangère, 2ème Régiment de Marche du 1er Régiment Etranger
No. 26751 au Corps Cl. 1919
Matricule: 3530 au Recrutement Lyon Central
Born June 11, 1886, Amsterdam, Hollande
Killed by the enemy [Tué a l’ennemi]
September 28, 1915; Marne, Souain
Not listed in Sépultures de guerre database

 

Two Among Many: The Soldier and His Wife – A Jewish Volunteer in the French Army in the Second World War

Though information about the service and experiences of Jewish soldiers of the United States and British Commonwealth countries during the Second World War is readily available in print, archival, and digital formats, a very wide variety material exists covering what is perhaps the less widely known service of Jewish soldiers in the armies of other Allied nations.

Significant in this sense was the role of Jewish soldiers – both as refugee volunteers, and citizens – in the armed forces of France.  Though not covered as systematically as in such books as American Jews in World War Two, the superb two-volume Canadian Jews in World War Two, or Henry Morris’ We Will Remember Them, or even – ironically – the two books covering military service of French Jewish soldiers during “The Great War” (Les Israelites dans l’Armée Française, and, Le Livre d’Or du Judaïsme Algérien – 1914-1918) other sources allow identification of French-Jewish soldiers (casualties, and those who received military awards) of the Second World War. 

These are 1) Livre d’Or et de Sang – Les Juifs au Combat: Citations 1939-1945 de Bir-Hakeim au Rhin et Danube, 2) Au Service de la France, 3) le combattant volontaire juif 1939-1945, and, databases found at the website of France’s Secrétariat Général pour l’Administration (SGA).  

Au Service de la France, and, le combattant volontaire juif 1939-1945, were published in 1955 and 1971 respectively, by the Union des Engagés Volontaires et Anciens Combattants Juifs 1939-1945 (Union of Military Volunteers and Jewish Veterans of 1939-1945). 

Au Service de la France is essentially a photographic anthology covering various aspects of Jewish military service and armed resistance against the Germans during the Second World War.  It encompasses military service in 1940, the experiences of prisoners of war, activity in the Resistance, and – consistent with its 1955 publication – social services for Jewish veterans and their families, as well as action against antisemitism. 

An invaluable aspect of this book is the presence of lists of names of French Jewish servicemen who received military awards, or, who were killed in military service.

Le combattant volontaire juif 1939-1945 (The Jewish Volunteer Combattant – 1939-1945) was published in 1971, “…on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Union of Military Volunteers and Jewish Veterans of 1939-1945”, and is significantly different from Au Service de la France.  The text is in French and Yiddish (as a single volume) and though many photographs are present, text takes significant priority over images.  However, unlike Au Service de la France, the book does not include lists of casualties or recipients of military awards.

Some years ago, I was very fortunate to have been given a copy of Le combattant volontaire juif  1939-1945 through the kindness and generosity of Mr. Albert N. Szyfman of the U.E.V.A.C.J.-E.A. (Union des Engagés Volontaires, Anciens Combattants Juifs 1939-1945 – leurs Enfants et Amis).  (Thank you again, Albert!)

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Realizing the importance of these two books – especially the text of Le combattant volontaire juif – in learning about the military service of French Jews during the Second World War, I’ve translated the context of the latter to English.

The purpose of the book is very well stated in its Foreword.  Namely:

“AS part of the preparation of the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Union of Military Volunteers and Jewish Veterans, our management had initially planned to publish a special issue of “Our Will” which was to trace the activity of Union during the past quarter century. 

“This project, practically limited to the history of our activities, was finally abandoned.  The Committee took the view that it was necessary to reserve an important place to the testimonies and memories to boldly highlight the massive participation of Jews of foreign origin in the battles of World War II and their contribution to victory of the Allies over Nazi Germany.

“So this is the book that we present to the reader.

“While certain works, concerning this terrible time, tend to portray that the Jews could be lead to death without resistance, our book highlights in largely unpublished stories the courageous battles experienced by these men and women, with or without uniforms, alongside their French brethren.

“It would have been inconceivable that in a book edited by Jewish veterans that the horrible result of Nazi crimes, the extermination of tens of millions of human beings – including six million Jews – as it is only natural that this book speaks of the great historical event of the creation of the State of Israel and the solidarity that the Jewish veterans manifested in this regard.

“Dozens of former prisoners of war, internees in concentration camps, former resistance fighters who fought in the ranks of the F.F.I., survivors of Auschwitz and its crematoria, each, recount living episodes.

“These stories that trace, in most cases, often heroic acts, the testimonies of military leaders who commanded units with a high proportion of Jewish immigrant volunteers, the pages writers were willing to offer us for this work – all of this constitutes a somewhat original anthology.

“The reader will find in the following pages of text and illustrations covering our affairs during the twenty-five years of the existence of our Union such as the rights of veterans, the ongoing effort to preserve the memory of our dead, the struggle for peace, against racism and anti-Semitism, a just and lasting peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, and our social work.

“One third of the book is written in Yiddish; for many of our comrades, indeed, Yiddish was the mother tongue as it was for most of the six million Jews exterminated by the Nazis.

“We are certain that in the pages of “The Jewish Volunteer Combatant 1938-1945” each member of our generation will be found, while youth will learn the nature of the last war that created immeasurable suffering.”

The book’s editorial board comprised Isi Blum-Cleitman, Dr. Samuel Danowski, Joseph Fridman, Bernard Pons, and Maurice Sisterman, in collaboration with Louis Gronowski. 

Its content was supplemented by information and documents provided by the following organizations:

The Office of Decorations of the Ministry of National Defense
The Historical Committee of the Second World War
The Center for Documentation of Contemporary Jewry
The Center for Documentation of Jewish Resistance and Mutual Aid
The Israel Tourism Office
The National Association of Veterans of the French Resistance

Le combattant volontaire juif – 1939-1945 is subdivided into five major sections.  These are 1) “Foreign Volunteers”, 2) “Remembrances of War”, 3) “In the Concentration Camps”, 4) “In The Ranks of the F.F.I.”, and, 5) “After the Liberation”. 

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In effect and intent, Le combattant volontaire juif – 1939-1945 is not an all-encompassing and minutely detailed and heavily-footnoted history.  Rather, through numerous vignettes by a variety of authors, it presents – through vivid prose and great detail – an account of military service and anti-German armed resistance by French Jewry during the Second World War.

Every such account is worthy of commentary and contemplation. 

An especially moving story is “Deux parmi d’autres” – “Two Among Others”, by Ilex Beller, who was President of the U.E.V.A.C.J. between 1986 and 2004.  

Beller’s story covers the life and fate of Srul and Golda Magalnic, both of whom were from Rumania.

The story is presented below, in French and English.

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deux parmi d’autres

Ilex Beller

Pendant trois semaines, nous avons manœuvré dans le camp de Larzac.  Nous n’avons rien appris de nouveau mais ça a été une occasion d’être débarrassé des puces barcaressiennes, d’habiter comme de vrais soldats dans une véritable caserne, de dormir sur de vraies paillasses.

En comparaison avec les conditions de vie de Barcarès, les manœuvres ont été pour nous une sinécure.

Mais un ordre est arrivé de retourner à Barcarès; nous refaisons rapidement les bardas et reprenons la route.

Il pleut de nouveau et c’est tout trempés que nous montons dans les wagons à bestiaux.  Arrivés à Rivesaltes, nous en descendons et parcourons à pied les 16 kilomètres qui nous séparent du camp.  Mais ici une surprise nous attend: dans les rues voisines de la gare se tiennent nos camarades de Barcarès, les 3 000 volontaires du 21e Régiment qui y attendent le train en partance pour le front.

Ils sont habillés de neuf, avec de longs manteaux et des casques de fer.  Seuls les bardas et les ficelles n’ont pas changé. On reconnaît à peine leur visage.

La permission nous est accordée d’aller prendre congé de nos camarades qui partent.  Alors des groupes se forment à nouveau, comme à Barcarès, un “cercle juif”.  On examine les nouveaux uniformes, on frappe sur les casques neufs, on se force à rire, à blaguer, mais ça ne colle pas; quel que chose a changé.  Sur tous les visages se lit le même sérieux. “Qui sait, c’est peut-être la dernière fois que je vois mon camarade.”

Le moment de la séparation est arrivé.  On s’embrasse.  Les soldats du 22e Régiment et ceux du 21e qui partent pour le front.  Les visages mal rasés sont tristes: “Fort Gesund”, “Partez en paix, chers camarades!”

Autour de nous, les habitants de Rivesaltes ont le visage préoccupé et triste, comme nous.

Nos camarades sont entassés dans les wagons à bestiaux.  Ce sont les derniers serrements de mains, les dernières recommandations:

          – Battez les fascistes!

           – Sauvez votre peau!

          – Josel, s’il m’arrive un malheur, pense à ma mère!

Le train s’ébranle lentement, Je revois Srolek agiter un mouchoir: “Au revoir! n’oublie pas Gol-dale et l’enfant!”

Le 21e Régiment (R.M.V.E.) est parti vers le front d’Alsace, occuper les positions devant la ligne Ma-ginot, dans la région de Minersheim et Alteckendorf.  Il a été rattaché à la 35’ division et placé sous les ordres des généraux Decharme et Delais-sey, prenant ainsi la relève du 49’ Régiment d’Infanterie.

***

Printemps 1940.  C’est le plus beau mois de mai.  Les premières jonquilles dorées fleurissent dans les vertes prairies.

Les hirondelles volent bas et s’amusent parmi les soldats, les cigognes regardent autour d’elles, perchées sur les hautes cheminées des beaux villages alsaciens.

Hitler a déclenché la grande offensive.  La puissante armée allemande, pourvue d’un matériel de guerre effroyable, se met en marche à travers la Belgique, contre la France.  Les premiers villages français sont ensanglantés avant d’être conquis.

Les trois régiments de volontaires étrangers, formés à Barcarès, sont relevés des positions où ils se trouvaient, pour être lancés dans les secteurs les plus menacés:

           – le 22’ régiment dans la Somme (la bataille de Péronne);

          – le 23’ régiment dans la région de Soissons;

          – le- 21’ dans les Ardennes.

Les avions allemands ne quittent pas le ciel. Ils bombardent les routes, les ponts et les gares.

Le 21’ régiment se déplace avec grande difficulté, voyage en train, en camion et marche beaucoup à pied. Il fait chaque jour des dizaines de kilomètres.

Il n’est pas facile de marcher, chargés de pioches, de pelles, de la musette, et le dos ployant sous le barda, le tout relié par des ficelles (les autres régiments nous appelaient “Régiment ficelle”; il y a les lourds fusils de 1914 aussi…

On se prépare à une guerre des tranchées et il faut creuser des centaines de kilomètres…

On s’approche des Ardennes.  L’itinéraire passe par Longchamps, Chaumont, Erize-la-Grande, après Sainte-Ménéhould, Cernay, le Morthome, jusqu’aux environs du village de Boult-aux-Bois.  Là, on s’arrête dans le petit bois, non loin du village, et on se trouve face à l’ennemi.

Le village de Boult-aux-Bois est occupé par les Allemands, les nôtres regardent vers les maisonnettes toutes blanches, avec les toits de tuiles rouges, entourées de champs resplendissant de toutes les couleurs.

C’est ici, dans les petits bois que la compagnie de Srolek, la “C.A.1”, va livrer sa première bataille.  Les nôtres, bien qu’épuisés par une longue marche, occupent rapidement les positions de combat.  Les Allemands commencent par bombarder le bois avec leur artillerie; les bombes explosent de tous côtés, criblent la terre, et projettent en l’air les troncs des arbres.  Puis ils attaquent, couverts par le feu des mitrailleuses lourdes.  Nous comptons nos premiers morts.

Voici un camarade avec lequel tu as vécu, que tu aimais comme ton frère, il gît ensanglanté dans tes bras, et te confie sa dernière parole… toi, tu dois partir et l’abandonner pour toujours…

Ce fut un combat bref mais sanglant, les nôtres furent obligés de se retirer.  Le lendemain, le bataillon occupait de nouvelles positions dans le village des Petites-Armoises, on creusait des trous individuels, on installait le canon 25, et les mortiers, on se fortifiait.

Les Allemands attaquent tous les jours et souvent la nuit, mais les nôtres arrivent à tenir les positions, et cela va durer 12 jours et 12 nuits.

C’est le 10 juin seulement que l’ennemi réussit à percer nos lignes sur les deux flancs.

Nous sommes alors menacés d’encerclement.  Aussi, l’ordre est-il donné de se replier sur Vaux-lès-Mourons, Longueval, Vienne-la-Ville, jusqu’à Sainte-Ménéhould.

Le général Delaissey vient personnellement visiter le bataillon: il faut couvrir la retraite du gros de l’armée.  Il faut tenir à tout prix Sainte-Ménéhould.

Le bataillon se fortifie autour de ce village.  Il fait sauter les ponts de l’Aisne qui coule à proximité, on creuse des tranchées près des lignes de chemin de fer. sur les places des villages.

Les Allemands attaquent le lendemain avec un armement lourd et puissant et s’engage une bataille acharnée, inégale.  Ils réussissent à passer la rivière et foncent avec leurs autos blindées sur le village, détruisent le seul canon 25 et les deux mortiers que le bataillon possédait.

13 juin.  Le bataillon a perdu presque la moitié de ses effectifs.  Dans l’après-midi, le capitaine La-garigue donne l’ordre de se replier.  Le groupe des mitrailleurs où se trouve Srolek Magalnik reste sur place pour couvrir la retraite.

Les Allemands ont déjà occupé tout le village de Sainte-Ménéhould, mais près du cimetière, une vieille mitrailleuse française “Hotchkiss” tire encore.

A 16 heures, une balle allemande a traversé le cœur de Srolek et a mit fin à se jeune vie.  Il est tombé à Sainte-Ménéhould, en défendant le sol français dont il a tant rêvé et auquel il a voué un véritable amour.

Le lendemain, des réfugiés, des paysans, l’enterrent sur le lieu même où il a donné son dernier souffle.

Ils n’ont pu déchiffrer son nom sur ses papiers militaires criblés de balles…

Le même jour se déroule la bataille de la Grange-aux-Bois, où sont tombés tant des nôtres.

Le régiment se retire en combattant jusqu’à Passavant et puis à Robencourt-aux-Ponts, et Chau-mont qui est en flammes.

Le 19 juin, ce qui reste du 21e Régiment se bat toujours à Colombey-les-Belles, et le 20 juin a lieu la sanglante bataille devant Allain.

Le 21 juin l’ordre arrive de l’état-major de cesser le combat, de détruire les armes.

Les Allemands occupent toute la région, désarment les régiments, promettent aux officiers de les traiter en “prisonniers d’honneur” et de leur accorder le droit de porter leurs armes personnelles…

Le 22 juin, jour où le maréchal Pétain signe l’armistice et livre la France à l’ennemi, le vieux général Decharme, chef de la 35’ Division (dont faisait partie le 21” R.M.V.E.) donne son dernier ordre.

Il ordonne de réunir tous les soldats rescapés du 21’ Régiment dans le village de Tuillier-les-Groseilles.  A 15 heures de ce même jour, il passe en revue les rangs des soldats sans armes, les habits déchirés et les visages ensanglantés.  Il marche lentement, s’arrête souvent, regardant les soldats droit dans les yeux, il sait sans doute ce qui les attend!  Puis il fait ses adieux:

“Je vous remercie pour votre héroïsme, pour votre abnégation, pour votre discipline, en mon nom personnel et au nom de la France.”

Le 23 juin, le reste du régiment est amené en captivité en Allemagne.

Le commandant de la C.A.1. (la Compagnie de Srolek) était le lieutenant Belissant, un homme cultivé et doux, qui aimait ses soldats, lesquels l’adoraient.

C’est un de ces Français pour qui les idéaux de la grande Révolution française sont chose sacrée, un de ceux qui ont contribué dans le monde entier à bâtir le renom de la France, comme pays de justice et d’humanité.

Le lieutenant Bellissant aimait beaucoup Srolek, et lorsque Srolek tomba, il pleura à chaudes larmes.

Dans la première lettre qu’il écrivit de captivité à sa femme, il dit: “J’avais un ami très cher, un Juif émigré de Bessarabie, il est tombé en héros.  Je sais qu’il a laissé une femme et un enfant à Paris. Trouve-les et tâche de les aider.”

***

Dure était la vie pour Goldale et son enfant dans ce Paris affamé, occupé par les Allemands.

Elle avait trouvé une petite chambre dans une vieille maison de la rue des Gravilliers, y avait transporté sa machine à coudre et travaillait illégalement pour gagner de quoi nourrir elle et sa fille.

Elle vivait continuellement dans la peur, et pleurait chaque nuit Srolek qui était tombé “quelque part en France”.

Mme Bellissant était une brave femme, digne de son mari.  Dès qu’elle reçut la lettre de son mari en captivité, elle se mit à la recherche de Goldale.  D’une adresse à l’autre, elle grimpait les étages, visitait les mansardes, jusqu’à ce qu’elle trouvât la chambre de la rue des Gravilliers.

 Les deux femmes firent vite connaissance et devinrent bientôt amies.  Goldale se confia à elle comme à une mère.  C’est Mme Bellissant qui retrouva la tombe de Srolek dans le cimetière de Sainte-Ménéhould.  Elles partirent ensemble poser une dalle sur la sépulture.

C’est aussi Mme Bellissant qui trouva la vieille concierge de la rue de Rennes, Mme Grimaud, pour cacher chez elle la fille de Goldale, Nelly, et la soustraire ainsi aux rafles allemandes.

***

Cela se passa au début de 1944, par une grise matinée d’hiver, le jour commençait à peine à poindre.  Paris dormait encore lorsqu’on entendit dans l’escalier de la vieille maison de la rue des Gravilliers les pas lourds des bottes militaires, les coups frappés brutalement à la porte et le cri: “Ouvrez!”

Avant que Goldale n’eût le temps de descendre du lit, ils enfoncèrent la porte.  J’aurais tellement aimé vous dire que c’était la Gestapo ou d’autres formations militaires allemandes organisant la chasse aux Juifs à Paris, qui vinrent arrêter Goldale.  Malheureusement, la réalité est tout autre.  C’étaient des Français; oui, il s’est trouvé des Français, des âmes vendues qui collaborèrent avec les Allemands, des fascistes déments… ou bien des gens des bas-fonds.

Goldale, en chemise de nuit, maigre, malingre, toute tremblante, essaya d’abord de les raisonner: “Laissez-moi tranquille, mon mari est tombé pour la France, j’ai un petit enfant!”

Lorsqu’ils l’entraînèrent de force dans l’escalier, Goldale se débattit.  Elle criait au secours, elle les injuriait, elle pleurait et, finalement, se mit à supplier: “Je n’ai fait aucun mal, je suis une pauvre couturière, laissez-moi tranquille.”  Deux grands gaillards s’emparèrent d’elle et l’emportèrent.

Les voisins sortirent, en chemise de nuit, le visage gonflé de sommeil, pour la plupart des vieillards, des femmes et des enfants amaigris, épuisés par quatre années d’occupation.

Plusieurs d’entre eux se tordaient les mains et pleuraient, regardant emporter notre Goldale dans la voiture de la police.

On la déporta de Drancy à Auschwitz, d’où elle n’est jamais revenue…

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Two Among Others

Ilex Beller

For three weeks we have been active in the Larzac camp.  We have learned nothing new but it was an opportunity to be rid of “Barcaressiennes lice”; to live like real soldiers in real barracks, sleeping on real mattresses.

In comparison with the living conditions in Barcarès, maneuvers have been our sinecure.

But an order came to return to Barcarès; we quickly deploy weapons and hit the road.

It’s raining again and all are wet as we get into the cattle cars.  Arriving at Rivesaltes, we descend and traverse the 16 mile walk that separates us from the camp.  But here a surprise awaits us; in the streets around the station stand our comrades from Barcarès, 3,000 volunteers of the 21st Regiment await the train bound for the front.

They are dressed with new long coats and iron helmets.  Only our weapons and threads have not changed.  We barely recognize their faces.

Permission is granted to us to take leave of our comrades who are departing.  Groups form again; as in Barcarès, a “Jewish circle.”  We examine the new uniforms, knock on new helmets; we might laugh, joke, but it does not remain; regardless, things have changed.  On every face one reads seriously. “Who knows, maybe this is the last time I see my friend.”

The time of separation happens.  We kiss.  Soldiers from the 22nd Regiment and the 21st; those who leave for the front.  The unshaven faces are sad: “Fort Gesund”, “Go in peace, dear comrades!”

Around us, the inhabitants of Rivesaltes were concerned about the atmosphere and sad, like us.

Our comrades are crammed into cattle cars.  These are the last handshakes, the last admonitions:

          “Defeat the fascists!”

          “Save your skin!”

          “Josel, if I encounter misfortune, think of my mother!”

The train moves off slowly; I remember waving a handkerchief to Srolek: “Goodbye!  Do not forget Goldale and the child!“

The 21st Regiment (R.M.V.E.) went to the Alsace front, occupying the positions to the Maginot Line, in the region of Minersheim and Alteckendorf.  It was attached to the 35th Division and placed under the command of Generals Decharme and Delaissey, thus taking over from the 49 Infantry Regiment.

***

Spring 1940.  It is the most beautiful month: May.  The first golden daffodils bloom in the green meadows.

The swallows fly low and play among the soldiers, storks look around them, perched on the tall chimneys of beautiful Alsatian villages.

Hitler unleashed the great offensive.  The powerful German army, equipped with dreadful war material, starts through Belgium against France.  The first French villages are bloodied before being conquered.

The three regiments of foreign volunteers, trained at Barcarès, are advanced to positions where they were to be launched in the most threatened sectors;

           22nd regiment in the Somme (The battle of Peronne);

           23rd regiment in Soissons region;

           21st in the Ardennes.

German planes do not leave the sky.  They bombard roads, bridges and railway stations.

The 21st Regiment moves with great difficulty, travel by train, truck and much walking on foot.  Every day it makes tens of kilometers.

It is not easy to walk, loaded with picks, shovels, gas mask [?], and back bending under the kit, all connected by cords (the other regiments called us the “Cord Regiment”; there are heavy 1914 guns also…)

Getting ready for a war of the trenches and you have to dig hundreds of miles…

One approaches the Ardennes.  The route passes through Longchamps, Chaumont, Erize-la-Grande; after St. Ménéhould, Cernay, le Morthome, to near the village of Boult-aux-Bois.  There, we stop in the little wood near the village, and are facing the enemy.

The village of Boult-aux-Bois is occupied by the Germans, ours looks all the white as houses with red tiled roofs, surrounded by glittering fields of all colors.

It is here, in the woods little that the company of Srolek, the “C.A.1” will deliver its first battle.  Ours, although exhausted by a long march, quickly occupy fighting positions.  The Germans begin by bombing the woods with their artillery; bombs explode in all directions, sift the earth, and cast up the trunks of trees.  Then they attack, covered by heavy machine gun fire.  We have our first dead.

Here is a comrade with whom you lived, you loved as your brother, who lies bleeding in your arms, and says his last words to you…you; you have to leave and abandon forever…

It was a brief but bloody battle; we were forced to withdraw.  The next day, the battalion occupied new positions in the village of Petites-Armoises, dug foxholes, and installed the 25mm cannon and mortars; we became strong.

The Germans attacked every day and often at night, but we came to hold positions and lasted 12 days and 12 nights.

It was only June 10th that the enemy managed to break our lines on both sides.

We are then threatened with encirclement.  Also, the order is given to withdraw to Vaux-lès-Mourons, Longueval, Vienne-la-Ville, up to Sainte-Ménéhould.

General Delaissey is personally visiting the battalion, which must cover the retreat of the main army.  Sainte-Ménéhould must be taken at any price.

The battalion is strengthened around the village.  It blows up the bridges of the Aisne flowing nearby, and digs trenches near the railway lines, on the village squares.

The Germans attack the next day with a heavy, powerful armament and undertake a fierce, uneven battle.  They manage to cross the river and with their armored cars darken the village, destroying the only 25mm canon and two mortars that the battalion had.

June 13.  The battalion has lost nearly half of its manpower.  In the afternoon, Captain Lagarigue gives the order to withdraw.  The group of gunners where Srolek Magalnik is situated are to stay behind to cover the retreat.

The Germans had already occupied the entire village of Sainte-Ménéhould but near the cemetery, an old French machine gun “Hotchkiss” still fires.

At 1600 hours, a German bullet pierced the heart of Srolek and put an end to his young life.  He fell at St. Ménéhould, defending the French soil of which he dreamed and to which he has devoted his true love.

The next day, refugees; peasants, bury him in the same place where he gave his last breath.

They could not read his name on his military papers riddled with bullets…

The same day unfolds the battle of the Grange-aux-Bois, which fell from us.

The regiment withdrew fighting to Passavant, and then Robencourt-aux-Ponts and Chaumont are in flames.

On June 19, what remains of the 21st Regiment is still fighting at Colombey-les-Belles, and on June 20, held the bloody battle at Allain.

On June 21, the order comes from the staff to stop fighting, and destroy weapons.

The Germans occupied the entire region, disarmed the regiments; the officers promised to treat them as “prisoners of honor” and to grant them the right to their personal weapons…

On June 22, the day the Marshal Pétain signed the armistice and signed France to the enemy, old General Decharme, head of the 35th Division (which included the 21st R.M.V.E.) gave his last order.

He ordered to bring all surviving troops of the 21st Regiment to the village of Tuillier-les-Groseilles.  For 15 hours that day, he reviewed the ranks of unarmed soldiers, with torn clothing and bloodied faces.  He walked slowly, often stopped, watching the soldiers right in the eye; he will know what to expect!  Then he bade farewell:

“Thank you for your heroism, for your sacrifice, your discipline, in my own name and in the name of France.”

On June 23, the rest of the regiment is brought into captivity in Germany.

The commander of the C.A.1. (Srolek’s Company) was Lieutenant Belissant, a cultured and gentle man who loved his soldiers, who adored him.

He is one of those for whom the French ideals of the great French Revolution are a sacred thing, one of those who have contributed over the world to build the reputation of France as a country of justice and humanity.

Lieutenant Bellissant loved Srolek and when Srolek fell, he wept bitterly.

In the first letter he wrote to his wife from captivity, he said: “I had a dear friend, a Jew who emigrated from Bessarabia, he fell as a hero.  I know he left a wife and child in Paris.  Find them and try to help them.“

***

Life was hard for Goldale and her child in Paris, occupied by the Germans.

She had found a small room in an old house in the Rue des Gravilliers; had transported her sewing machine and was working illegally to earn enough to feed herself and her daughter.

She lived in constant fear, and every night cried for Srolek who fell “somewhere in France”.

Mrs. Bellissant was a good woman, worthy of her husband.  As soon as she received the letter from her husband in captivity, she began looking for Goldale.  From one address to another, she climbed the floors, visited the attics until she found the room on Gravilliers Street.

The two women quickly became acquainted and soon became friends.  Goldale confided in her as a mother.  Mrs. Bellissant found Srolek’s tomb in the cemetery of St. Ménéhould.  They went there together and placed a memorial slab.

Mrs. Bellissant also found her old concierge of the Rue de Rennes, Mrs. Grimaud, to hide with her Goldale’s daughter Nelly, and thereby evade German roundups.

***

It happened in early 1944, on a gray winter morning, when daylight was just beginning to emerge.  Paris was still asleep when they heard on the stairs of the old house on Gravilliers Street heavy military boots; blows brutally beating at the door and crying, “Open!”

Before Goldale had time to get off the bed, they broke down the door.  I would have loved to tell you that it was the Gestapo and other German military formations organizing the hunt for Jews in Paris who came to arrest Goldale.  Unfortunately, the reality is quite different.  They were French; yes, the French, sold-out souls who collaborated with the Germans, demented fascists…or shallow people.

Goldale, in a nightgown, thin, skinny, and trembling, first tried to reason with them: “Leave me, my husband fell for France, I have a small child!”

When dragged by force on the stairs, Goldale struggled.  She screamed for help, she swore, she was crying and eventually began to beg: “I have done no wrong, I am a poor seamstress, leave me alone.”  Two big fellows seized her and prevailed.

The neighbors came out; in her nightgown, her face swollen with sleep, mostly old men, women and children; emaciated, exhausted by four years of occupation.

Several of them were wringing their hands and crying, looking upon our Goldale taken away in the police car.

Among the deported from Drancy to Auschwitz, from which she never returned…

____________________

Other aspects of the story… 

Srul was born in Rezcani, Romania, on August 16, 1912, while Golda (Vozer), also born in 1912, was from Pascani.  Srul served in the 21eme Régiment de Marche de Volontaires Etrangers (21st Regiment of Foreign Volunteers). 

Srul’s biographical profile at Mémorial Gen Web (Reference Number 1559751) does not specify the date of his death, only listing this as “1940”, and giving his surname as “Magalnick”, while Au Service de la France gives his surname as “Magalnik”. 

According to his biographical record in the Secrétariat Général pour l’Administration’s “Base des militaires décédés pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale” database, he died on June 17, 1940, rather than June 13 as given in Ilex’s account.  He was killed in action at Saint Menehould, Marne, and is buried at the Bagneux Cemeterty, in Paris.

After Srul’s death, Golda resided in at the Rue des Granvilliers, in Paris’ 3rd Arrondissement.  On November 11, 1942, she was deported from Drancy Camp, in France, to the Auschwitz Birkenau Extermination Camp, on Transport 45, Train Da. 901/38.  This is a correction to Ilex’s narrative which denotes that she was deported in 1944.

Above all and most important, Beller mentions that Srul and Golda had a “small child” – Nelly; their daughter – who resided with a Mrs. Grimaud, the concierge of Lt. Bellissant’s wife.  A search of Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victim’s Names reveals – fortunately – no record for “Nelly Magalnic” (at least, using the specific name “Nelly” in the “first name” search field). 

Therefore, it seems – one would hope – that Nelly survived the war. 

If so, assuming she was born in the mid-1930s, she would now be in her early eighties.

The Central Database of Shoah Victim’s Names reveals something else:  A Page of testimony in Golda’s memory, completed in December of 2002, by Victoria Schwartz (her niece?).

____________________

Some other Jewish military casualties on June 17, 1940, include:

Killed / Tué
– .ת.נ.צ.ב.ה. –

Bach, Andre, Chef d’Escadron, Legion d’Honneur
Armée de Terre, 121eme Regiment d’Infanterie, Groupe de 105 Hippomobile
“Son groupe ayant été coupé du corps d’armée le 7 juin, à continué à combattre avec d’autres éléments jusqu’au 17 juin, date à laquelle il à été mortellement frappé.”
(His group was cut off from the Corps on June 7, and continued to fight with other elements until June 17, when he was fatally struck.)
LODS, p. 126

Not in SGA Seconde Guerre mondiale website; Not in Sepultures du Guerre database
Place of Burial Unknown

Baum
, Alfred Isaac, Pvt., 6288801, Killed at St. Nazaire

The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment), 2nd Battalion
Born 1919
WWRT I, p. 60
Prefailles Communal Cemetery, France – Grave 25

Boos
, Emile (AC-21P-27054), Blessures de Guerre; Rancourt
Armée de Terre, 70eme Régiment d’infanterie de Forteresse

France, Bas-Rhin, Nessenheim; 3/16/09 / France, Saverne
ASDLF, p. 138
SGA “Seconde guerre mondiale” website lists unit as “70e RI Forteresse” – SGA “Sepultures de Guerre” website lists Unite as “70eme R.I.F.”
Carre militaire “Navenne”, Navenne, Haute-Saone, France – Tombe Individuelle, No. 59

Bronstein
, Georges Youry (AC-21P-34431), Tué à l’ennemi; Yonne, Arthonnay

Armée de Terre, 42eme Régiment d’Infanterie, 5eme Compagnie
Born Russie, Saint Petersburg; 11/23/14
Place of Burial Unknown

Bucholz
, Kalmann (AC-21P-35484)

Born Pologne; 1/29/97
ASDLF – 138
Listed in SGA “Seconde guerre mondiale” website, but not SGA “Sepultures de Guerre” website; http://www.memorial-genweb.org/html/fr/resultcommune.php3?id_source=33507&ntable=bp05
(Gives first name as “Kalman”)
Bagneux Cemetery, Bagneux, Paris, France

Fleisher
, Soloman, Pvt.,

Royal Army Service Corps, 2nd Field Bakery
Mr. and Mrs. Morris and Ann Fleisher (parents)
Not listed in either WWRT or WWRT II
Dunkirk Memorial, Nord, France – Column 140

Freeman
, Leslie, Pvt., 6466563, Passenger aboard S.S. Lancastria, which received direct hit by enemy bomb at Dunkirk.

The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment), 2nd Battalion
Born 1918
WWRT – I, p. 88
Dunkirk Memorial, Nord, France – Column 38

Goldinberg (Goldenberg)
, Albert, Soldat (AC-21P-195701), Tué au combat; Cote d’Or, Billy les Chanceaux

Armée de Terre, 232eme Régiment d’Artillerie Divisionnaire
Born France, Paris; 10/25/17
Information from SGA “Sepultures de Guerre” website.  Not in SGA “Seconde guerre mondiale” database.
Nécropole nationale “La Doua”, Villeurbanne, Rhone, France – Tombe individuelle, Carre E, Rang 14, No. 2

Harris, Stanley Louis, Sgt., 751759, Passenger aboard S.S. Lancastria, which received direct hit by enemy bomb at Dunkirk
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Number 98 Squadron
Born 1920
Mr. and Mrs. Louis and Minnie A. Harris (parents), Freemantle, Southampton, England
WWRT II, p. 27
http://www.rafweb.org/SqnMark098.htm
http://www.lancastria.org.uk/Victim_List/victim_list.html
Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England – Panel 15

Jungwitz, Mendel Juda, (AC-21P-58140), Tué au combat; Meuse, Sagny sur Meuse
Armée de Terre, 73eme Groupe de Reconnaissance de Division d’Infanterie
Born Pologne, Monwy Dwor; 12/22/03
First name from SGA “Seconde guerre mondiale” website – SGA “Sepultures de Guerre” website gives first name as “Mendel”; other information is identical in both databases.
Nécropole nationale “Faubourg Pave”, Verdun, Meuse, France – Tombe individuelle, Carre 39/45, No. 160

Khan
, Peter, Cpl., 13000584

Pioneer Corps, 53rd Company, Auxiliary Military
Born 1905
WWRT II, p. 16
Escoublac-la-Baule War Cemetery, Loire-Atlantique, France – 1,E,33

Levy
, Clement Nahman, (AC-21P-76681), “En mission”

Born Israel, Safad; 8/2/15
Place of Burial Unknown

Levy, Francois (AC-21P-76688), Meurthe-et-Moselle, Juvelize
Armée de Terre, 291eme Regiment d’Infanterie
France, Doubs, Besancon; 1/31/18
Place of Burial Unknown

Levy, Roger (AC-21P-78641), Bombardement; Ille-et-Vilaine, Rennes
Armée de Terre, 212eme Regiment d’Artillerie

France, Bas-Rhin, Benfeld; 8/11/06
Place of Burial Unknown

Lewis, Albert, Pvt., 4188602
Cheshire Regiment
Born 1902
Mr. and Mrs. Mark and Sarah Lewis (parents)
WWRT II, p. 18
Pornic War Cemetery, Loire-Atlantique, France – 1,C,6

Saks
, Tobiasz (AC-21P-151240), Tué au combat; Marne, Saint Menehould

Armée de Terre, 21eme Régiment de Marche Etranger
Born Pologne, Fedrzejow; 9/29/07
ASDLF, p. 143
Listed in SGA “Seconde guerre mondiale” website – not listed in SGA “Sepultures de Guerre” website; http://www.memorial-genweb.org/html/fr/resultcommune.php3?id_source=33507&ntable=bp05 (Gives first name as “Tobjasz”)
Bagneux Cemetery, Bagneux, Paris, France

Weil
, Francois Charles David, Lieutenant (AC-21P-169180), Legion d’Honneur; Vienne, Poitiers / Villampuy

Armée de Terre, Cavalerie / A.B.C. / 2eme // 3eme Bataillon de Chars de Combat
“Grièvement blessé le 17/06/1940 à Villampuy (28) par un coup direct sur son char.”
(Seriously wounded on 17/06/1940 in Villampuy (28) by a direct hit on his tank.)

“Lors de l’attaque de Crécy, le 19 mai 1940 à conduit sa section à l’objectif définitif et à contenu l’ennemi pendant sept heures malgré de violente bombardements d’aviation.  Après avoir brillamment participé aux contre-attaques du bataillon du 24 au 31 mai en direction d’Abbevville, à été grièvement blessé le 17 juin au carrefour de Villampuy en assurant la liaison entre ses sections.  Est mort des suites de ses blessures.”
(During the attack on Crécy, May 19, 1940 led his section to the final objective and contained the enemy for seven hours despite violent bombing by aircraft.  After brilliantly participating in the battalion’s counter-attacks from May 24th to 31st in the direction of Abbeville, he was seriously wounded on June 17th at the crossroads of Villampuy by linking his sections.  Died from his wounds.)

Born France, Paris; 10/2/13
LODS, p. 125
SGA gives date as 7/5/40; http://www.memorialgenweb.org/memorial3/html/fr/complementter.php?table=bp&id=112905
Place of Burial Unknown

Winer, Jack George, Pvt., 7659901, Killed in Dunkirk Evacuation
Royal Army Pay Corps
Born 1905
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph and Rose Winer (parents)
WWRT I, p. 174
Dunkirk Memorial, Nord, France – Column 148

Zadoc Khan
, Roger Bertrand, (AC-21P-172107), “Non mort pour France”, Creuse, Mas d’Arviges

Born France, Paris; 11/20/01
Place of Burial Unknown

Zapp, Victor Irving, Sgt., 147889, Passenger aboard S.S. Lancastria, which received direct hit by enemy bomb at Dunkirk.
Royal Army Service Corps
WWRT II, p. 23
Pornic War Cemetery, Loire-Atlantique, France – 2,C,15

Zerbib
, Raymond Fredj Rahsmin, Soldat (Zouave), (AC-21P-167211), Legion d’Honneur; Seine-et-Oise, Saint Cheron (environs)

Armée de Terre, 3eme Regiment de Zouaves
“Mortellement blessé le 17 juin 1940 en résistant courageusement aux attaques ennemies aux environs de Saint-Cheron.”
(Fatally wounded on 17 June 1940 by courageously resisting enemy attacks near Saint-Cheron.)

Born Algerie, Ain-Beida; 9/4/14
LODS, p. 128
First name and Date de deces from SGA “Seconde guerre mondiale” website – SGA “Sepultures de Guerre” website gives first name as “Raymond”, and lists Date de deces as “6/15/40”.
Nécropole nationale “Fleury-les-Aubrais”, Fleury-les-Aubrais, Loiret, France – Tombe individuelle, Carre 43, Rang 4, No. 58

Prisoners of War / Prisonniers de Guerre

Journo, Raoul, Zouave de 1ere Classe, Citation à l’ordre du Régiment
Armée de Terre, 10ème Corps d’Armée, 84ème D.I.N.A.
Prisoner of War (Prisonnier de guerre); Liberated 4/29/45
LODS, p. 99

Khelifi
, Simon, Soldat de 1ere Classe

Armée de Terre, 57eme Régiment d’Infanterie Coloniale (Mixte Sénégalais)
Prisoner of War (Prisonnier de guerre); Frontstalag 230 (France, Vienne, Poitiers)
“Evadé le 22 août 1944 (zone de combat Calvados).  Rejoint le bataillon 31éme de Pionnier.”
(Escaped on 22 August 1944 (Calvados combat zone).  Joined the 31st Pioneer Battalion.) 

Born Tunisie, Tunis; 5/17/15
LODS, p. 111
Liste officielle No. 46 De Prisonniers Francais (11/30/40), p. 33, Liste officielle No. 63 De Prisonniers Francais (1/13/41), p. 33

Wounded (Survived) / Blessé (Survécu)

Sahagian, Abraham, Soldat, Medaille Militaire
Armée de Terre, 107eme Regiment d’Infanterie

“A été grièvement blessé par balle le 17 juin 1940 à son poste de combat aux environs de Laon.”
(He was seriously wounded by a bullet on 17 June 1940 at his combat post near Laon.) 

LODS, p. 145

____________________

References

Books

“WWRT I”
Morris, Henry, Edited by Gerald Smith, We Will Remember Them – A Record of the Jews Who Died in the Armed Forces of the Crown 1939 – 1945, Brassey’s, United Kingdom, London, 1989

“WWRT II”
Morris, Henry, Edited by Hilary Halter, We Will Remember Them – A Record of the Jews Who Died in the Armed Forces of the Crown 1939 – 1945 – An Addendum, AJEX, United Kingdom, London, 1994

“LODS”
Chiche, F., Livre d’Or et de Sang – Les Juifs au Combat: Citations 1939-1945 de Bir-Hakeim au Rhin et Danube, Edition Brith Israel, Tunis, Tunisie, 1946

“ASDLF”
Au Service de la France (Edité à l’occasion du 10ème anniversaire de l’Union des Engagés Volontaires et Anciens Combattants Juifs 1939-1945), l’Union Des Engagés Volontaires Et Anciens Combattants Juifs, Paris (?), France, 1955

Web

Ilex Beller (wikipedia entry), at https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilex_Beller

Ilex Beller (JewishGen KehilaLinks), at https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilex_Beller

U.E.V.A.C.J. (Union des Engagés Volontaires et Anciens Combattants Juifs 1939-1945 (Union of Military Volunteers and Jewish Veterans of 1939-1945) (home page), at http://www.combattantvolontairejuif.org/160.html

Rue de Gravilliers (wikipedia entry), at https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rue_des_Gravilliers

Golda Magalnic (under surname of “Magalnik”) – biographical information at genweb.org

Soldiers of The Great War: Jewish Military Service in WW I, as Reported in l’Univers Israélite (The Jewish World) – Sur la mort d’un héros (On the Death of a Hero – Sous-Lieutenant André Fraenckel), April 16, 1915

A week after l’Univers Israélite – in its issue of April 9, 1915 – presented a moving account of a Pesach Seder held among Sephardic soldiers, the periodical published an account covering the military career, death, and family background of a fallen officer: Sous-Lieutenant André Fraenckel.

Born in Elbeuf in June of 1893, Andre was the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Fraenckel, his father having been President of the Chamber of Commerce of Elbeuf, and, vice president of the religious association of Elbeuf. 

The article presents an account of his nonchalant attitude after having been wounded in January, and, an extract from a letter Andre wrote to either his parents, or, the editor of l’Univers.  The article continues with a transcript of a letter written to Andre’s parents by a Captain Vital (first name not given), Company Commander of a Battalion of Chasseurs, which details about Andre’s death, and, information about Andre’s family.

As with prior – and hopefully future – blog posts concerning Jewish World War One Casualties in the French army, I have included “Partie À Remplir Par Le Corps” cards from the Morts pour la France de la Première Guerre mondiale (Died for France in the First World War) database.

____________________

Andre was not the only French Jewish soldier to lose his life on March 4, 1915.  The others included:

Sous-Lieutenant Leon Eugene Bauer; 41ème Bataillon de Chasseurs a Pied
At La Chapelotte, in Cher
Born at Le Havre, on June 19, 1893
Mentioned in l’Univers Israélite on September 10, 1915
(Les Israelites dans l’Armée Française, page 8)

Sergent Major Armand Levy; 170ème Regiment d’Infanterie (?)
At Hurlus, in Marne
(Les Israelites dans l’Armée Française, page 53)
(“Partie À Remplir Par Le Corps” card could not be found or identified at the Morts pour la France de la Première Guerre mondiale (Died for France in the First World War) database, at Mémoire des Hommes (Memories of the Men) website.)

Soldier (Soldat) Max Levy; 149ème Regiment d’Infanterie
Died of wounds at a Temporary Hospital, at Hay-les-Mines, in Pas-de-Calais
Born at Alsace-Lorraine, on August 10, 1876
(Les Israelites dans l’Armée Française, p. 56)

Sous-Lieutenant Henri Leon Rothschild; 370ème Regiment d’Infanterie
At Neuville-Saint-Vaast, in Pas-de-Calais; Disappeared
Born at 9ème Arrondissement of Paris, on September 15, 1887
(Les Israelites dans l’Armée Française, p. 72)

Sergent Robert See; 313ème Regiment d’Infanterie
At Vauquois, in Meuse
Born at Colmar, in Alsace-Lorraine, on January 19, 1878
(Les Israelites dans l’Armée Française, p. 77)

Lieutenant André Wahl; 18ème Bataillon de Chasseurs (André’s Battalion)
Died of wounds, at Fortin de Mesnil les Hurlus, in Marne
Born at Doaui, in Nord, on February 23, 1884
Mentioned in l’Univers Israélite on March 17, 1916
(Les Israelites dans l’Armée Française, p. 85)

– .ת. נ. צ. ב. ה –

____________________

Sur la mort d’un héros

On the Death of a Hero

l’Univers Israélite
April 16, 1915

The Jewish World
April 16, 1915

A la mémoire du sous-lieutenant André Fraenckel
tombé en Champagne, le 4 Mars 1915

In memory of Second Lieutenant Andre Fraenckel

fallen in Champagne, March 4, 1915

Il nous était revenu an début de janvier, la téte emmaillottée de linges blancs, blessé pour la deuxième fois.  “Ce n’est rien, disait-il, une balle morte”. Une citation à l’ordre de l’armée disait ce qu’il passait sous silence: là blessure reçue en organisant, debout sous le feu, un saillant enlevé par ses chasseurs. 

He had returned year early at the beginning of January, head swathed in white cloths, wounded for the second time.  “It is nothing, he said, a dead ball.”  A quote from an order of the Army and he was silent: The wound was received by organizing, a defensive position under fire; a salient removed by his chasseurs.

Il décrivait la vie là-bas, dans une forêt de l’Argonne: au flanc d’un ravin, la tranchée; sur le versant opposé, la tranchée allemande; entre les deux une vallée fauchée par les balles. Il parlait avec enthousiasme de ses chefs et de ses homes; ces belles amitiés d’officiers en campagne, auxquelles la présence de la mort et l’éloignement de tous les intérêts du monde imposent tant de confiance et de profondeur, devaient plaire à cette âme loyale et absolue.

He described life there, in a forest of the Argonne: the side of a ravine, the trench; on the opposite slope, the German trench; a valley between the two swathed by bullets.  He spoke with enthusiasm of his leaders and their homes; these beautiful friendships of officers on campaign, which the presence of death and the removal of all worldly interests require so much confidence and depth, should please this loyal and absolute soul.

Il avait presque la nostalgie du front, tant les préoccupations de ceux qui ne se battaient pas lui paraissaient mesquines. 

He was almost nostalgic at the front, so that the concerns of those who did not fight to him seemed petty.

“Il ne faut pas croire, disait-il, que notre vie soit triste ou effrayante. Je me rappelle un soir où l’on nous a prévenus que nous aurions à attaquer le lendemain matin. C’etait la pente du ràvin a descendre, en tête de nos hommes, sous le feu des mitrailleuses allemandes. Nous avons passé la nuit à fumer des cigarettes. L’air était très calme, le ciel tout plein d’étoiles. Nous n’avions aucune tristesse, aucune arrière-pensée. Nous savions que nous allions mourir de la plus belle des morts, et la certitude de mourir est un sentiment très doux qùi ne laisse de place pour aucune crainte. Avant le matin, l’attaque fut décommandée: nous l’avons tous regrette.

“Do not believe,” he said, “that our life is sad or frightening.  I remember one evening when we were warned that we would have to attack the next morning.  It was the slope of the lower ravine, our forward men, under the fire of German machine guns.  We spent the night smoking cigarettes.  The air was calm, the whole sky full of stars.  We had no sadness, no ulterior motive.  We knew we were going to die the most beautiful of deaths, and the certainty of death is a very sweet feeling that leaves no room for fear.  Before the morning, the attack was called off: we all regretted.”

Il devait retrouver, hélas! l’occasion attendue de ce sacrifice.  Quelques semaines après son départ ses lettres cessèrent d’arriver. Un jour son capitaine écrivit qu’il était blessé, puis grièvement blessé, et le lendemain vint celle belle lettre d’un admirable chef:

He should find, alas, the expected time of this sacrifice.  A few weeks after leaving his letters stopped coming.  One day his captain wrote that he was hurt, and hurt badly, and next came the beautiful letter of an admirable leader:

Le 19 mars 1915.
On March 19, 1915.

Monsieur,
Sir,


Je ne veux laisser à aucun autre la douloureuse mission de vous révéler la triste vérité. La peine que j’ai éprouvée moi-méme m’a fait différer de vous écrire, pensant bien que l’absence de lettres quotidiennes vous préparerait un peu a l’idée d’un malheur.  Vous excuse-rez aussi les mensonges de mes dernières lettres destinées uniquement à amortir le choc un peu brutal de la cruelle vérité.  Voire fils Andre est tombé en héros, à la tête de sa troupe, le 4 mars dernier, frappé d’une balle au cœur, sans une plainte, sans avoir souffert aussi, comme le témoignait le calme de ses traits. C’est la belle mort du soldat qui l’a fauché dans un élan superbe, dont une citation à l’ordre de l’armée consacrera le souvenir.


I will leave no other painful passion to reveal the sad truth.  The trouble I have proven my same made me defer to write to you, thinking that the absence of daily letters to you prepares little to you the idea of a misfortune.  You also excuse the lies of my last letters, intended only to soften the somewhat brutal shock of the cruel truth.  Your son Andre became a hero at the head of his troops, last March 4, struck by a bullet in the heart, without a complaint, without suffering too, as evidenced by the calm of his features.  This is the beautiful death of the soldier who broke into a superb momentum, including a citation in army dispatches consecrating his memory.


Permetez-moi, Monsieur, de m’associer à votre douleur paternelle, en tant que chef et en tant qu’ami. La vie de campagne créé des liens indissolubles, et je m’étais très sincèrement attaché a ce jeune homme si vivant et si vibrant qu’était votre enfant. L’ardeur qu’il mettait en tout, il l’a manifestée dans cette attaque de tranchée pour la prise de laquelle il a donné sa vie. Avec vous je pleure la nature généreuse et la belle âme d’officier qui en était en lui.


Allow me, Sir, to associate myself with your father’s pain, as leader and as a friend.  Country living created indissoluble bonds, and I was sincerely attached to this young man, so alive and vibrant was your child.  The passion he put into everything he manifested in this trench attack the decision for which he gave his life.  With you I cry generously for the beautiful soul of the officer that was within him.


Que la beauté de cette mort soit pour vous une atténuation à votre peine. C’est du sang jeune, abondamment répandu, que sortira notre régénération. J’aurais voulu pouvoir donner le mien pour épargner sa vie: la balle est folle et ne choisit pas.


May the beauty of this death be for you an attenuation to your sentence.  It is the young blood, fully given, that will release our regeneration.  I wish I could give mine to save his life: the bullet is crazy and does not choose.


Je me hâte de répondre à une question que je devine.” Le corps de votre fils, mis en bière, repose dans le petit cimetière de….., côte à côte avec ceux de ses compagnons d’armes. Lorsque le bataillon a défilé devant lui, pour la dernière fois, beaucoup ont fait serment de le venger.


I hasten to answer a question I guess.  “The body of your son, placed in a coffin, is buried in the small cemetery of …, side by side with those of his fellow soldiers.  When the battalion parades before him, for the last time, many have sworn to avenge him.


Pardonnez-moi encore, Monsieur, de vous porter un coup si cruel. J’ai préféré vous annoncer moi-même la pénible nouvelle, sans recourir à la voie administrative. Je m’incline respectueusement devant votre douleur paternelle et je vous prie d’accepter l’expression de mes plus sincères et mes plus profondes condoléances.


Forgive me again, sir, for dealing you a blow so cruel.  I preferred to tell you the painful news myself, without resort to administrative means.  I respectfully bow to your father’s pain and I beg you to accept the expression of my profound and deepest condolences.

Signé:
Capitaine Vital,
commandant la… compagnie du… bataillon
de chasseurs à pied

Signed:
Captain Vital,
Commandant of the … Company of the … battalion
of
chasseurs à pied

On a su depuis, par une lettre d’un de ses camarades, que tout, autre que lui eût pu être sauvé. Dès le début de l’attaque, il avait été blessé à la tête par un éclat d’obus. Il aurait dû aller se faire panser. Mais c’était une conscience qui ne marchandait pas avec elle-même. En toute chose il ne comprenait que le don total de soi. Souvent, silencieux, il nous écoutait discuter autour de lui; puis brusquement, de sa voix jeune et un peu bourrue, il donnait son avis : c’était ton-jours le plus généreux. Pour tôus ceux qu’il aimait, pour toutes les causes qui lui paraissaient justes, etait toujours prêt à s’offrir tout entier.

We have since learned, by a letter from one of his comrades, of everything else that could have been done to save him.  From the beginning of the attack, he had been wounded in the head by shrapnel.  He should have gotten [the wound] dressed.  But he had a consciousness that had not bargained with itself.  In everything, he did not understand the total gift of self.   Often silent, he listened to us talk about him; then suddenly, in his little young and gruff voice, he gave his opinion: it was the most in the most generous tone.  For all those he loved, for all cases which he considered fair, was always ready to offer a whole.

C’est un privilège de ceux qui meurent à vingt ans d’avoir conservé jusqu’au bout cette belle foi joyeuse dans la vie : c’est un de leurs privilèges aussi de demeurer éternellement jeunes dans la mémoire de ceux qui les ont aimés.  Ce beau jeune home, ardent et vibrant, bien pris dans son uniforme bleu foncé, restera, pour tous ceux qui l’ont connu, un souvenir lumineux et sans tache, et, à la tristesse de l’avoir perdu se mêlera toujours pour les siens la douceur de conserver de lui une image si fraîche et si pure.

It is a privilege of those who die at twenty to have been preserved through this beautiful joyful faith in life: it’s one of their privileges as to remain young forever in the memory of those who loved them.  This beautiful young man, ardent and vibrant, well caught in his dark blue uniform, will remain, for all those who knew him, a bright and spotless memory, and the sadness of losing him will always mingle with his gentleness to keep him pictured so fresh and pure.

Pour moi, je le verrai toujours vivant et fort, courant à la tête de ses chasseurs, dans un élan superbe, sur ce coin de la terre de Champagne pour lequel il a donné son sang, avec sur le visage l’expression que donnent une volonté héroique et cette certitude de mourir que ne laisse de place pour aucune crainte.

For me, I see him still alive and strong, running at the head of his fighters with a superb momentum, on this corner of the land of Champagne for which he gave his blood, with his face in an expression that gives heroic determination in the certainty of death that leaves no room for fear.

E.H.
(La Dépéche de Rouen)

E.H.
(The Disptach from Rouen)

André Fraenckel était le fils unique de M. Paul Fraenckel, président de la Chambre de Commerce d’Elbeuf et vice-président de l’Association cultuelle d’Elbeuf, et de Mme Paul Fraenckel.  Il avait fait sa premierè année de service à Rouen au 74e d’infanterie.  Il achevait la seconde année comme élève officier dans un bataillon de chasseurs à pied lorsque la guerre éclata.

André Fraenckel was the only son of Paul Fraenckel and Mrs. Paul Fraenckel, President of the Chamber of Commerce of Elbeuf and vice president of the religious association of Elbeuf.  He had his first year of service at Rouen in the 74th Infantry.  He finished the second year as a student officer in a battalion of Chasseurs when war broke out. 

Il ne tarda pas à se distinguer par sa conduite au feu, qui lui valut une citation à l’ordre du jour de l’armée; il revint deux fois blessé.  Il était parti il y a quelques semaines pour reprendre son poste sur un point du front où la lutte était particulièrement active.

He will soon be distinguished by his conduct against fire, which earned him a citation in the orders of the army.  He returned twice wounded.  He had been there a few weeks to resume his position on the point of the front where the fight was particularly active.

Toute la ville d’Elbeuf, où le jeune André Fraenckel comptait autant de sympathies que parmi ses camarades de bataillon, s’est associée à la douleur d’une famille justement considérée et qui, venue d’Alsace après 1870, paie de la vie d’un fils unique la reprise du pays natal toujours regretté.

The whole town of Elbeuf, where the young André Fraenckel had many sympathies among his battalion comrades, is associated with the pain of a family and it is rightly considered that, from Alsace after 1870, it is regretted that the homeland is always paid with the life of a son.

M. Marc Bernheim, président de l’Association cultuelle du canton d’Elbeuf nous a écrit pour nous dire, en son nom et au nom de tous ses coreligionnaires d’Elbeuf et de la région, la part sincère qu’ils prennent au cruel deuil qui vient de frapper la famille Fraenckel.  Nous nous associons de tout coeur à ces condoléances. 

Mr. Marc Bernheim, president of the religious association of the canton of Elbeuf wrote to us saying, in his name and on behalf of all his coreligionists of Elbeuf and the region, they take cruel mourning that has struck the family Fraenckel with a sincere hand.  We join wholeheartedly in these condolences.

Reference

Les Israelites dans l’Armée Française (Israelites [Jews] in the French Army), Angers, 1921 – Avant-Propos de la Deuxième Épreuve [Forward to the Second Edition], Albert Manuel, Paris, Juillet, 1921 – (Réédité par le Cercle de Généalogie juive [Reissued by the Circle for Jewish Genealogy], Paris, 2000)

– Transcribed and Translated by Michael G. Moskow – 2016

 

 

 

Soldiers of The Great War: Jewish Military Service in WW I, as Reported in l’Univers Israélite (The Jewish World) – Pour nos combattants et pour nos blessés (For Our Veterans and For Our Wounded), December 11, 1914

After nearly five months, the Great War had steadily and devastatingly taken its toll – alas, how could it not? – on France, and inevitably French Jewry, as well.* 

This, and more, is reflected in the following essay, by J.H. Dreyfuss, Chief Rabbi of Paris, covering sacrifice and hope; healing and solace; patriotism and victory.

This item is available in PDF format, here

* For a superb read on this period of The Great War, I highly – very highly – recommend Max Hastings’ superb book Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War.

____________________

Pour nos combattants et pour nos blessés
Pour nos morts et pour leurs parents

PRIÈRE

For Our Veterans and For Our Wounded
To Our Dead and Their Parents

PRAYER

l’Univers Israélite
December 11, 1914

The Jewish World
December 11, 1914

Seigneur, toi à qui appartiennent, comme dit l’Ecriture, “la grandeur, la puissance, la victoire et la majesté, — car, tout, dans le ciel et sur la terre, est à toi ; c’est en ta main que se trouvent force et puissance, c’est ta main qui peut tout grandir èt tout affermir, — Eternel, souverain maître de toutes choses”, daigne étendre ta grâce, ta miséricorde, ta protection efficace sur les nobles et vaillants enfants de la France qui, animés d’une foi ardente et d’une volonté inébranlable, se sont léves pour défendre le sol sacré de la patrie.  Ils ont tout abandonné, parents, épouses, familles, leurs intérêts les plus précieux, tout ce qui donne du prix à la vie, pour n’écouter que la voix du devoir, le devoir qui se résume pour eux, à l’heure présente, dans ce seul mot: vaincre; vaincre en dépit des obstacles, en dépit des épreuves même qui ne pourront entamer ni leur courage indomptable, ni leur patriotique abnégation; vaincre, non pas par orgueil, non pas pour dominer, pour conquérir, mais pour défendre, pour protéger la terre de notre patrimoine héréditaire, pour venger l’injure faite au droit et à la justice.

Lord, to thou that belongs, as the Scripture says, “the size, power, victory and majesty – because, everything, in heaven and on earth, is yours; it is in your hand strength and power, it is your hand that all can grow and all strengthen – Lord, sovereign master of all things, “deign to extend your grace, your mercy, your effective protection of the noble and valiant children of France who, animated by an ardent faith and an unshakable will, rose to defend the sacred soil of the homeland.  They gave up everything, parents, wives, families, their most precious interests, anything that gives value to life, to listen only to the voice of duty, a duty that comes down to them at the present time in the single word: overcome; defeat despite the obstacles, despite the same events that can not begin nor their indomitable courage, nor their patriotic self-sacrifice; overcome, not by pride, not to dominate, to conquer, but to defend, to protect the land of our ancestral heritage, to avenge the insult to law and justice.

Car tu le sais, ô Seigneur, notre cause est juste et droite. Et c’est parce quelle est juste et droite que, d’un bout du pays à l’autre, un même frisson a secoué toutes les poitrines, frisson de révolte, de resolution, de courage et d’espérance; c’est parce qu’elle est juste et droite qu’elle a trouvé un si merveilleux echo, au-delà de nos frontières, dans la conscience de ces peuples amis qui continuent à donner la mesure de leur fidélité héroïque; c’est parce qu’elle est juste et droite que nous avons vu stoïquement partir nos enfants et tous ceux qui nous sont chers, certes, non point sans larmes, mais avec une volonté résolue et réfléchie; enfin, c’est parce que notre cause est juste et droite que nous là confions, sans hésiter, à ta bonté et à ta miséricorde.  Prends-la, Seigneur, sous ton égide toute-puissante, et exauce nos priéres.

As you know, O Lord, our cause is just and right.  And it is because what is just and right that, from one end of the country to another, the same thrill shook every throat, a thrill of revolt, resolution, courage and hope; it is because it is just and right that she has found a wonderful echo beyond our borders, in the consciousness of these peoples friends who continue to give the measure of their heroic fidelity; it is because it is just and right that we have been stoically from our children and all who are dear to us, certainly, not without tears, but with a resolute and thoughtful will; finally, it is because our cause is just and right there we entrust, without hesitation, to your goodness and mercy.  Take this, Lord, in thy omnipotent aegis, and answer our prayers.

Nous te prions, Seigneur, d’un cœur ardent et ému, pour nos maris, pour nos fils, pour nos frères, pour tous ceux qui nous sont chers, et qui, depuis de longues semaines, combattent à côté de leurs frères d’armes, héroïquement, opiniâtrement, insouciants de toutes les fatigues, de toutes les souffrances, de tous les périls, tout leur être tendu vers cette espérance radieuse qui promet le salut et la déliverance.  “Que ta main toute-puissante soutienne leur vaillance et que ta Providence miséricordieuse les couvre de ses ailes protectrices!”

We pray, Lord, with ardent heart and emotion, for our husbands, our sons, our brothers, for all those who are dear to us, and who, for many weeks, fighting alongside their brothers in arms, heroically, obstinately, heedless of all the hardships, all the suffering, all the dangers, their whole being tended towards that radiant hope that promises salvation and deliverance.  “Let thy almighty hand support their valor and thy merciful Providence cover them with its protective wings!”

Nous te prions, Seigneur, en faveur de nos chers et glorieux blessés, qui souffrent de leurs blessures, mais qui souffrent davantage encore de l’impuissance où ils se voient réduits pour un temps, de leur impatience frémissante de reprendre bientot leur place dans les combats. Seigneur, toi qui es le “maître de l’a guérison” viens en aide à leurs souffrances; guéris leurs blessures et calme leurs peines morales; conserve-les à leurs parents, à leurs familles, conserve-les à la France.

We pray, Lord, for our dear and glorious wounded, suffering from injuries, but still more suffering from impotence where they see themselves reduced for a time, their simmering impatience soon to soon resume their place in the fighting.  Lord, you who are the “master of the healing” have come to the aid of their suffering; healed their wounds and calmed their moral sufferings; keeping them to their parents, their families, keeping them in France.

Nous te prions, Seigneur, pour ceux, hélas! qu’il t’a plu de rappeler à toi, pour cette jeunesse, notre espoir, moissonnée au printemps de la vie.  Ah ! pardonne-nous si nous pleurons ; pardonne-nous si nous paraissons nous élever contre les décrets de ta Providence. Non, nous ne voulons pas murmurer; nous voulons “glorifier ton nom” et nous dirons : Puisqu’il t’a plu de nous frapper par des épreuves si cruelles, nous te rendons grâces : d’avoir préparé à ceux que nous pleurons la mort la plus glorieuse, celle qu’on récolte au champ d’honneur. Seigneur, “nous recommandons leur âme pure aux célestes et immortelles félicités que tu réserves, au- helàs de la tombe, aux élus parmi les élus”.

We pray, Lord, for those, alas! it pleased you to remind you, for this youth, our hope, harvested in the spring of life.  Ah! forgive us if we cry; forgive us if we seem to stand against the decrees of your Providence.  No, we do not want to whisper; we “glorify thy name” and we will say: Since you wished to strike us with such cruel blows, we give thanks: we mourn those preparing for the most glorious death,  that is harvested in battle.  Lord, “we commend their pure souls to the heavenly and immortal welcomed you have reserve, over – alas! the grave, elected from among the elected.”

Mais si nous te prions pour ceux qui ne sont plus, nous te prions aussi pour ceux qu’ils laissent après eux; nous te prions pour ces parents, pour ces épouses, pour ces enfants, pour tous ces êtres chers qui les entouraient ici-bas comme d’un réseau de tendresse et de sollicitude. Toi qui es “le consolateur suprême”, daigne consoler les affligés, daigne faire descendre dans leur cœur la résignation, la paix, la sérénité.  Qu’ils se glorifient dans le souvenir des chers disparus! Qu’ils vivent avec leur douce image! Qu’ils s’inspirent de leur exemple et ils seront, eux aussi, vaillants, intrépides, héroïques.

But if we pray for those who are not you any more, we also pray for those they leave behind them; we pray for these parents, these wives, for these children, for all those loved ones around them down here as a network of tenderness and solicitude.  You who are “the supreme comforter,” deign to comfort the afflicted, deign to come down in their heart in resignation, peace, serenity.  They pride themselves in the memory of loved ones!  They live with their sweet image!  They are inspired by their example and they too, will be brave, fearless, heroic.

Nous te prions enfin, Seigneur, avec l’assurance que tu accueillezas les purs hommages de notre foi, de notre foi en ton secours, les témoignages irrécusables de notre piété émue et consciente, avec l’assurance que tu tiendras compte des sacrifices douloureux que nous avons faits pour le salut et la grandeur de la patrie; —nous te prions de faire rayonner bientôt à nos yeux, rayonner dans tout son éclat la victoire, la victoire couronnée par la paix, par le bonheur.

We finally you pray, Lord, with the assurance that you welcome the pure homage of our faith, our faith in thy help, the unimpeachable testimony of our emotional and conscious piety, with the assurance that you will hold account of the painful sacrifices we have made for the salvation and the greatness of the country; – we pray soon to shine victory in all its brilliance, victory in our eyes, victory crowned by peace, by happiness.

“A toi, Seigneur, la délivrance; à nous, ta bénédiction!”  (Ps., 3,9). — Amen

“To you, Lord, grant; to us, your blessing!”  (Ps. 3.9). – Amen

J.-H. DREYFUSS,
Grand-rabbin de Paris

J.H. Dreyfuss,
Chief Rabbi of Paris

– Transcribed and Translated by Michael G. Moskow

Soldiers of The Great War: Jewish Military Service in WW I, as Reported in l’Univers Israélite (The Jewish World) – “Les aumôniers du culte israélite” (Chaplains of the Jewish Faith), November 27, 1914

Paralleling my research in coverage within The Jewish Chronicle of Jewish military service during World War One, I’ve also reviewed the periodical l’Univers Israélite – The Jewish World – concerning the military service of French Jewish soldiers during that time.  Due to the publication schedule of the periodical, as well as the length and format of each issue, the total number of such articles, though many, has turned out to be fewer, and typically of shorter length, than those in the Chronicle.

But, what was published within the l’Univers Israélite was nevertheless as compelling and interesting – sometimes as profound, in its own way – paralleling the nature of what appeared in the Chronicle.  Items of note include biographical profiles of French Jewish soldiers (and inevitably military casualties) – many such items, news from foreign Jewish communities, discourses on religion and politics, and, lengthy descriptions of religious services held by, and among, French Jewish soldiers “in the trenches”.

Among the above, one such item is the following:  Information aimed at the families of servicemen concerning contacting Jewish chaplains assigned to the various French army corps.  Notably, this as the first really “lengthy” concerning French Jewish military service that appeared in l’Univers Israélite, this article did cover actually cover the military experiences of French Jewish soldiers, per se.

____________________

The article is provided in the original French, accompanied by English translation.  (My own translation.)  Further articles from l’Univers Israélite will be presented in the future.  Likewise, translated.  In the meantime, a PDF of this article is available here.

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Les aumôniers du culte israélite

En CAMPAGNE

Chaplains of the Jewish Faith
In Campaign

l’Univers Israélite
November 27, 1914

The Jewish World
November 27, 1914

Tous nos coreligionnaires ne savent pas qu’aux armées en campagne sont attachés des aumôniers des différents cultes et que le culte israélite a droit à un aumônier par corps d’armée. Quelques-uns ne tiennent peut-être pas à le savoir. C’est un tort. Même en laissant de coté, si c’est possible, la question de religion et la question de dignité, une considération de sécurité devrait engager tous les israelites à faire appel, le cas échéant, aux bons offices de l’aumônier du culte dont ils relèvent. L’aumônier, qui marche à l’arrière du corps d’armée, peut se mettre en relation avec les militaires israélites dont il connaît l’existence, les visiter s’il y a lieu dans les ambulances, prendre ou se procurer de leurs nouvelles et communiquer avec leurs familles ; assimilé à un officier sans troupes, il peut se charger de recevoir et de distribuer des colis.

Not all of our coreligionists are aware that chaplains of various religions are attached to armies in the field and that Israelite worship is entitled to chaplains by the army corps.  Some may not be keen to know.  This is wrong.  Even leaving aside, if possible, the question of religion and the question of dignity, a security consideration should engage all Israelites to appeal, if any, to the good offices of the chaplain under whom they worship.  The chaplain, who walks to the rear of the army corps, can relate to the Israelite soldiers which he is aware, visit the place where the ambulances are taken or obtain their news and communicate with their families; compared to a non-troop officer, he may be responsible for receiving and distributing the packages.

Nous croyons donc rendre service aux familles Israélites qui ont quelqu’un des leurs à l’armée en dressant la liste des aumôniers israélites actuellement en fonctions, avec l’indication du corps d’armée auquel ils sont attachés:

We believe as a service to Israelite families who have someone of theirs in the army listing the current functions of Israelite chaplains, with indicating the army corps to which they are attached:

1er corps           MM     Hermann, rabbin de Reims (en congé).
2e corps                        Tchernaïa, rabbin; ministre-officiant d’Enghien.
3e corps                        Nathan Lévy, rabbin de Rouen.
4e corps                        Albert Hertz, rabbin.
5e corps                        Maurice Zeitlin, rabbin.
6e corps                        Joseph Sachs, rabbin de Châlons-sur-Marne.
7e corps                        Paul Haguenauer, grand-rabbin de Besancon.
8e corps                        Julien Weill, rabbin de Paris
(précédemment M. Schumacher, rabbin de Dijon).
9e corps                        Léon Sommer, sous-rabbin, ministre-officiant de Tours.
13e corps                      Marcel Sachs, rabbin à Paris.
15e corps                      Hirschler, ministre-officiant à Marseille.
16e corps                      Joseph Cohen, gran rabbin de Bayonne.
17e corps                      Moïse Poliatscheck, rabbin de Toulouse.
18e corps                      Ernest Ginsburger, grand rabbin de Genève.
20e corps                     Maurice Eisenbeth, rabbin de Sedan.
Place de Toul,             M. Isaac Bloch, grand-rabbin de Nancy.
Place de Verdun,        M. Jules Ruff, rabbin de Verdun.
Place d’Epinal,           M. L. Sèches, grand-rabbin de Lille.

First Corps                          M.M. Hermann, Rabbi of Reims (on leave).
2nd Corps                           Tchernaia, Rabbi; officiating minister of Enghien.
3rd Corps                            Nathan Levy, Rabbi of Rouen.
4th Corps                            Albert Hertz, Rabbi.
5th Corps                            Maurice Zeitlin, Rabbi.
6th Corps                            Joseph Sachs, Rabbi of Chalons-sur-Marne.
7th Corps                            Haguenauer Paul, Chief Rabbi of Besancon.
8th Corps                            Julien Weill, Rabbi of Paris
(formerly Schumacher, Rabbi of Dijon).
9th Corps                            Sommer Leon, Deputy Rabbi, Officiating Minister of Tours.
13th Corps                         Marcel Sachs, Rabbi in Paris.
15th Corps                         Hirschler, Officiating Minister at Marseille.
16th Corps                         Joseph Cohen, Grand Rabbi of Bayonne.
17th Corps                         Poliatscheck Moses, Rabbi of Toulouse.
18th Corps                         Ernest Ginsburger, Chief Rabbi of Geneva.
20th Corps                         Maurice Eisenbeth, Rabbi of Sedan.
Place de Toul                    M.L. Isaac Bloch, Chief Rabbi of Nancy.
Place de Verdun               M.L. Jules Ruff, Rabbi of Verdun.
Place d’Epinal                  M.L. Sèches, Chief Rabbi of Lille.

En écrivant à un aumônier, on libellera l’adresse comme suit:

M. le rabbin (grand-rabbin) X..
Aumônier du culte israélite
Groupe des brancardiers de Corps
…eme corps d’armée

Writing to a chaplain, words are addressed as follows:

Rabbi M. (Chief Rabbi) X…
Chaplain of the Jewish faith
Corps Stretcher Group
…th Army Corps

La première destination à donner à la lettre est le Bureau central militaire à Paris ou la ville qui est le siège du dépôt de la section d’infirmiers du corps d’armee en question (consulter le tableau affiché dans les bureaux de poste).

The first destination to give the letter is the Military Central Bureau in Paris or the city that is the seat of the filing of the nursing section of the corps in question (see the chart displayed in post offices).

On remarquera que les 10e, 11e, 12e, 14e, 19e, et 21e corps d’armée n’ont pas, à notre connaissance, ou n’ont pas encore d’aumônier israélite. Nous reviendrons sur cette lacune et sur quelques autres desiderata dans un prochain où nous étudierons l’organisation du service de l’aumônerie militaire, au point de vue Israélite, et la place faite à notre culte.

Note that the 10th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 19th, and 21th army corps have not, to our knowledge, or do not yet, have Israelite chaplains.  We will return to this absence and upon some other desiderata in the future or we will study the organization of the service of the military chaplaincy, from the Israelite perspective, that has instead made our worship.

– Transcribed and Translated by Michael G. Moskow