WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
 
 
Previous Page Back  Contents  Contents Page 264 Home Page Home Page  Forward Next Page 
     
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 been
     
   
 
WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
Previous Page  Back Page 264 Forward  Next Page