Goldman, René (March 25, 1934 –)

BiographyRené Goldman was born on March 25, 1934 in Luxembourg, Luxembourg to Wolf Goldman (b. May 9, 1911 in Wieruszów, Poland, d. January 1945) and Mirel (Mira) Shaindl Goldman (neé Arensztein, b. April 17, 1907 in Kalisz, Poland, d. after September 1942 in Auschwitz, Poland). Wolf and Mirel Goldman lived in Poland until around 1930, then moved to France and Luxembourg, where they were married in October 1931.

After the Nuremberg Race Laws were enforced in Luxembourg in the summer of 1940, the Goldmans moved to Brussels, Belgium. Wolf worked as a tailor and René attended a Flemish elementary school. In May 1942, the Goldmans fled Belgium, hoping to sail abroad from Marseille, France. They were captured and placed in a hotel with other refugees in the city of Lons-le-Saunier, France. Two weeks later, the hotel was emptied by French police and the Jewish refugees, including René Goldman and his mother, were marched to the city's train station for deportation. Wolf Goldman escaped and joined the French resistance. Mira’s sister, Fella Domb, a French citizen from Limoges, was able to prevent René from boarding a train with the help of a gendarme, but they could not stop Mira’s deportation. Mira perished at Auschwitz sometime after September 1942.

Fella arranged to hide René in Limoges; for two weeks René stayed at the Château du Masgelier, run by the Oeuvre de secours à l’enfance. After Le Masgelier, René hid in the rural village of Vendœuvres in the region of Berry, hosted by two local families. In February 1943, René was sheltered at the Catholic convent school for boys, Pensionnat des Besses. René briefly reunited with his father in the spring of 1944 in Lyon.

After the war, René attended a school for boys in Andrésy, operated by the Commission Centrale de l’Enfance (CCE). In 1947, René learned that Wolf Goldman had been arrested on September 4, 1944 by French police. In 1965, René met a survivor who informed him that his father had been deported and died in a death march from Auschwitz to the Landsberg concentration camp in Bavaria, Germany, in January 1945.

René Goldman visited Poland for the first time in 1949, during a summer vacation organized by the CCE. He moved to Poland in 1950, attended high school and worked part-time at Polskie Radio, the Polish national radio station, as a French-language speaker and translator.

In 1953, René moved to Beijing to study Chinese language, literature and history. He left China in 1958, returned briefly to Poland, then moved to France. In October 1960, he moved to the United States to pursue a graduate degree in the Department of History at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University in New York. René Goldman moved to Vancouver in 1963, where he completed his post-graduate studies and taught Chinese history at the University of British Columbia until his retirement.

René Goldman lives in Summerland, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife Terry Dekur. He is associate professor emeritus in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia.
NotesVisit the Azrieli Foundation's website and Re:Collection to access video testimony, memoir excerpts, personal artefacts and photos relating to René Goldman's story.


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