I weathered that blow, and decided to approach Mme.
Halaunbrenner, who would soon be sixty-eight years old and whose life had been
sad and trying. As with Mme. Benguigui, Barbie had turned her life into one
long period of mourning. Her husband, her older son, and two of her daughters
had been killed by Barbie. Only one son, Alexandre, and a daughter, Monique,
were left. |
I got an affidavit from Alexandre:
In 1943, our family consisted of my father
Jakob, who was born on July 12, 1905, in Drohobiz, Poland; my mother Itta; my
older brother Leon (thirteen); my three sisters, Mina (eight), Claudine (four),
and Monique (three).
Between 1941 and 1943 we were interned in several
camps in the southern zone (Nexon, Rivesaltes, Gurs) . On August 26, 1943, we
were put under surveillance in our house in Lyon.
We were living at 14
rue Pierre-Loti, in Villeurbanne, when the Gestapo came to our house at 11 A.M.
on October 24, 1943. There were three of them. Two were tall and about forty
years old; the third, who was much younger he seemed to my childish eyes
to be about thirty was plainly in command. He waited impatiently for the
arrival of my father's nephew, who must have been betrayed to the Gestapo and
who was arrested and killed by them in 1944. While my little sisters were
clinging to my father, the younger man pulled out his revolver, terrifying us.
His face has been etched on my memory ever since that moment, haunting my
dreams and my wakeful nights. When I saw his picture in Die Weltwoche
for September 10, 1971, I recognized him at once, and so did my mother, who was
then with me.
My brother Leon, who was tall for his age, came home
about 6 P.M. The three Gestapo men had been at our apartment continuously until
then, one of them watching outside the door. When my brother arrived, they
searched him, and then took him away along with our father. My mother began to
scream in Yiddish for them to let my brother go, and we all wept and howled,
but in vain. Barbie shoved my mother aside as she was trying to yank her son
and her husband back, took out his revolver again, and beat her hands with it
to make her let go. But all was useless. We waited all the next day in the
street for the two who had been arrested to return, my sisters clinging to my
mother's skirt. Then we saw a German army truck stop in front of our house,
probably to take us away. Pretending to be merely passers-by, we moved on down
the street, leaving everything behind.
A few weeks later, on December
14, we learned from a Jewish friend that our father had died "in the hospital."
I went with my mother through all the hospitals, but we could not locate him.
Then I thought of going to the morgue, and there we found my father. "He's