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Oral history interview with Léon Sztal

Oral History | Accession Number: 2015.271.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0818

Léon Sztal, born in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, France on May 6, 1933, describes being the youngest son of Chil Jankiel Sztal and Barbe Louise Hendrickx (a Belgian woman who converted to Judaism); his older brother and older sister; his Polish father’s background and life in Palestine from 1920 to 1925; his father’s work in Liège, Belgium; his father’s successful business selling leather goods; attending public school; not experiencing antisemitism; the family’s exodus by automobile when France was invaded in May 1940; going to Saint-Fargeau for a few weeks and returning to Paris; his mother not registering as a Jew since she was originally Catholic; not wearing the yellow star and the neighbors not denouncing them to the police; hiding with neighboring friends during roundups; his father’s arrest in May 1941 and visiting him in Beaune-la-Rolande; his father’s deportation on June 27, 1942; his mother’s bravery and how she took in several children; subsisting on assistance from the COSOR; going with his sister to L'Isle-sur-le-Doubs, France in early 1944; his brother joining them in June 1944; his mother searching for word of his father after the war and learning that he died in Auschwitz; his bar mitzvah in 1947; leaving school at age 14 and working for his uncle; being called up for military service, becoming part of the Groupement 2, which succeeded the illustrious Second Armored Division and was assigned to NATO; how an exhibition at the Great Arch at La Défense inspired him to find out more about what happened to his father and uncles during the war; becoming the official flag-bearer for the Association of the Union des Déportés d’Auschwitz and attending commemorative ceremonies linked to the Holocaust and World War II; his second wife, Michèle Benichou, who was born in Algeria; and his two daughters.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Léon Sztal
Peggy Frankston
interview:  2015 July 23
3 digital files : WAV.