Life after the Liberation – August 1944 to Present
I left Pringy in September 1944 for another colonie, in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon in central France, also run by the Swiss Red Cross, for young adults aged 14 to 18, where I attended High School. My sister Laure remained in Pringy until 1945, when she moved to Grenoble, where I joined her at the end of the school year, in June 1945. In Grenoble, I first attended ORT school to become an electrician, then went again to High School. My sisters and I came to the United States in 1947, mainly because it was the only place where we had some, albeit distant, relatives and because we felt that the United States offered the best economic opportunities.
In the United States, we lived for six months in St. Louis, where we had relatives, but then moved to New York. In New York, I had various odd jobs where I worked 25 to 30 hours per week and went to New York City College full time to obtain a degree in Mechanical Engineering. I belonged to an informal group of French speaking young people, most of which had spent the war years in either Belgium or France. We met almost every week to go on excursions, for parties or just to talk. That is were I met Sylvia in 1950. We were married in January 1954, one week after I obtained my degree. I had a job offer from North American Aviation in Southern California and our honeymoon was a three week drive to California, paid by that company. From then on, I worked full time and attended UCLA at night to obtain a MS degree in Engineering.
In 1962, I took a position at Ampex Corporation in Redwood City, were I held various position, including Manager of the Corporate Research Department, Director of Engineering of the Data Systems Division and Chief Scientist of that Division. I lost my job at Ampex in 1986 and have been a part time Engineering Consultant since then. Every year, I consult less and enjoy retirement more.
We moved to Menlo Park in 1962 and into our present house in 1963. We have three children, all born in Southern California:
Nadine, in 1956. Children: Eli, Ginat and Yona
Hugo, in 1959. Children: Marshall and Leah
Viviane, in 1962. Children: Joshua, Evan and Mira
I was going to call this an epilogue, but I am not yet ready to write an epilogue to my life. Despite the Germans, the deportations, the camps and the separations, I do not feel that I had an unhappy childhood. For the first ten years of my life, I lived in a close, nurturing family, the youngest and probably most spoiled of four children. I was of course lucky to have survived, that I had older sisters who were able to take care of me, so that I never felt alone in the world, but also lucky that I was old enough to remember my parents and to know who I am, yet still young enough when I came to the United States to go to the University, acquire a profession and have a normal career.
I am sure that the war year experiences influenced my life in many ways. I do not take worldly possessions too seriously: they can easily be lost. I try to judge people, not by their positions in life, but by how I think they would behave when all the trimmings of wealth and power are taken away, when they are left to their inner resources as in camps. The behavior of people in these camps did not necessarily correlate with their status in life. Finally, all the losses of Jewish lives convinced me that the only way to make up for these losses was to get married Jewish, to have children and raise them so that they would chose Jewish mates and raise Jewish children.
Finally, a few words need to be said about the behavior of France and the French during the war. The Vichy Government was anti-Semitic, passed anti-Semitic laws, the French police arrested Jews and delivered them to the Germans. The conditions in the French camps were awful. Serge Klarsfeld in Le Memorial de la Deportation des Juifs de France describes these camps as follows:
“The treatment reserved to the Jews interned in France was such that those who died there are victims of the Nazi oppression at the same title as those deported. …..Conditions in these detention camps such as Gurs, ….were absolutely inhumane for people of fragile health, for old people and for children. The political regime of Vichy was guilty of these crimes”.
But despite the behavior of the Vichy Government, many Frenchmen did not cooperate with their government and helped in the hiding of Jews, particularly Jewish children. This accounts for the fact that over 70% of all the Jews in France and over 85% of the Jewish children survived the war. Except for Denmark, this percentage is higher than any other country under German control. I believe that among the German Jews deported from Baden and Pfalz in October 1940, a greater percentage, particularly a greater percentage of children and young people, survived in France than could have survived in Germany. This deportation was therefore a blessing in disguise.