René G. testimony 1983 [video recording]
Date of Recording27 April 1983
SynopsisRené G. was born in Luxembourg in 1934 to Polish parents who had left in the 1930’s to find employment opportunities. He describes his family. He describes the German occupation and how his family moved to Brussels then to unoccupied southern France. He discusses Belgian collaborators and the Vichy government. He recalls having to wear the yellow star and experiencing antisemitic harassment. He describes his family’s arrest by French police in Poligny and how they were transferred to Lons-le-Saunier where they were assigned to a hotel with other refugees. He describes how police cleared out the hotel and how he and his mother were forced on a deportation train. His aunt was able to save René from the train while his mother was beaten. He explains that his father was in hiding in Lyon at this time. He recalls that he went with his aunt to Limoges. René was briefly placed in a Jewish orphanage. He describes staying with French families, attending school and mass. He describes being transferred to a Catholic orphanage in Pellevoisin. He describes how his father came for him and they lived in hiding in Lyon. He recalls his father’s participation in the resistance. He describes the Allied bombardments, but being unable to go to shelters out of fear of being denounced. He then stayed on a farm in Chassieu. He describes liberation by United States troops. He recalls going to stay with his aunt and uncle in Villeurbanne. He explains that his father joined the Free French Forces to fight in Germany. He describes being sent to a Jewish Zionist orphanage in Le Bourg-d’Oisans. He recalls returning to live with his aunt after the war. He recounts learning that his father was caught by the Gestapo and was on one of the last deportations to Auschwitz and died. René then describes living in an orphanage in Andrésy. He recalls being brought up in several communist Jewish homes. He describes his studies in Poland. He was able to travel to Beijing as a student in 1958. He describes receiving a scholarship to study at Columbia University in New York and running into trouble with immigration because of his communist past. He describes moving to Vancouver. He discusses the effects of losing his parents.
NoteVideo starts after the witness has begun talking at 0:58:15
Funding NoteCataloguing and digitization of this testimony was supported by funding from the Government of Canada.