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Jacob Barosin papers

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2010.502.1

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    Photographs, documents, slides, and negatives documenting the artwork and career of Jacob Barosin [donor's stepfather] during and after WWII documenting his experiences in the Gurs internment camp, Langlade forced labor camp, while living in hiding, in Paris after the war, and memorializing family and other victims of the Holocaust; dated 1940-1992; in English and French.
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Peter Garik and Katherine Greenblatt
    Collection Creator
    Jacob J. Barosin
    Jacob Judey (later Barosin, 1906-2001) was born in Riga, Russia (now Latvia), to Lazar Hirsch (later Hermann, 1878-1959), and Olga Elka (née Fischmann, 1878-1929) Judey. Jacob had a half-brother, Paul Berkowitz (1897-?), from his mother’s first marriage, and three sisters: Lydia (later Kaminsky, 1903-1976), Miriam (later Mary Mangold, 1908-2003), and Sina Ida (1912-?). Jacob’s family fled Riga before World War I (1914-1918) and settled in Berlin, Germany, where Lazar built a plywood import business. After graduating, Jacob attended the University of Berlin where he met Sonia Finkel (1904-1973), a talented violinist who was born in Bessarabia (now Moldova). She and her parents, Isaac and Victoria (née Nemirovska) Finkel, fled from Odessa, Russia (now Ukraine), following the Russian Revolution (1917). Jacob and Sonia married in 1927, the same year that Paul sailed to Montevideo, Uruguay. In 1932, Jacob received a doctorate in art history from the University of Freiburg. Following Olga’s death, Lazar married his second wife, Sonja Sara (Sonia Sophie, née Veksler, 1903-1996), and the couple had a daughter, Eugenie (later Jeanie Dubnau, b.1938).

    On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany, and the authorities quickly began suppressing the rights and personal freedoms of Jews. In June, Jacob and Sonia travelled to Paris, France, on a four-week visa and never left, preferring to live as stateless foreigners in France. Jacob and Sonia changed their surname to Barosin. Jacob worked as a salesman for a printing shop, and Sonia as a seamstress. They spent a lot of time with Sonia’s cousins, Boris Guervit and Jacques, and their wives, Paulette and Jeanne. Miriam, Lydia, and their husbands, Dr. Ernst Mangold and Dr. Anatol Kaminsky, also immigrated to France.

    Following the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, Jacob voluntarily enlisted in the French military. On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded France. Eight days later, French police arrested Jacob and Sonia as enemy aliens and separated them. On May 25, Sonia was transported to Gurs internment camp in the Pyrenees Mountains. On June 2, Jacob and 20 others who had enlisted were transported to Langlade, to serve as prestataires, foreign workers attached to French army. Jacob sent Sonia a certificate indicating his position in the prestataires, which she used to secure her release on June 25. The day after she joined him, Jacob altered her safe conduct pass from Gurs to avoid arrest by the police. She travelled to Nice where they knew people that could help get her a residence permit.

    The June 1940 armistice between France and Germany made the prestataires unnecessary, and Jacob knew he needed to leave before his group was disbanded. In August, he got a pass to visit Sonia under false pretenses. He managed to stay in Nice with Sonia, until he was arrested on October 5. Jacob returned to Langlade because he had not been properly discharged from the military. To avoid being sent to salt mines, Jacob and his roommates began painting and selling patriotic doormats in support of Philippe Pétain, the leader of unoccupied Vichy France. They donated the money to the National Aid Society and received a letter of thanks from Pétain, which impressed the camp commandant. On May 15, 1941, Jacob was released and made his way to the town of Lunel, where the prefect of Herault was willing to issue a residence permit. He was only permitted to work as an agricultural laborer, so Jacob found a part-time position on Roger Dussel’s farm.

    Sonia remained in Nice until early April 1942, so that she could continue to earn money as a seamstress. In mid-October, Jacob was ordered to report to Agde internment camp. Jacob and Sonia asked Pastor Pierre Charles Toureille, the husband of an acquaintance, for help regarding Jacob’s internment. He agreed to help Jacob by writing a letter of support. Once at the camp, Jacob presented the letter to a clerk, who happened to be a good business friend of his father’s. The clerk “detached” Jacob from the camp to continue working on the Dussel farm. Jacob returned to Lunel, and under the new arrangement, he was not required to revisit the camp.

    In mid-November, the German forces occupied Lunel, which prompted Jacob and Sonia flee to the town of Florac. By chance, Jacob met Ernest Audrix, who rented them an apartment in Florac and connected them to a network of aid and protection for Jews in that town. On February 17, 1943, Jacob was arrested and transported to Gurs. Upon arrival, he used a copy of his father’s passport to claim Latvian citizenship, which would keep him off the transport lists of German Jews. On March 21, Jacob was placed in a group of twenty men loyal to France and transported to a labor camp in Gignac. When the laborers were told that there would be no travel permits for Passover, Jacob suspected a deportation was planned. He claimed that Sonia was sick, and begged the office clerk to issue a travel permit for the two days before the restriction was scheduled to begin. The clerk wrote out the permit, and Jacob returned to Florac on April 17.

    A local pastor, Andre Gall, spoke with a schoolteacher, Simone Serriere, who agreed to hide Jacob and Sonia in a small room above her schoolhouse in Montmejean. She agreed to supply food and water, so long as they remained quiet while she was teaching. During the day, Jacob and Sonia used a pail as a chamber pot, and they could only empty it late at night. One evening, Jacob emptied the pail early, and someone heard him. The following day, Simone arrived to find the townspeople surrounding the school because they knew someone was hidden inside. Simone explained that she was hiding a French couple because they feared being sent to Germany as factory laborers, and avoided mentioning that they were Jewish. Although Jacob and Sonia were assured by the townspeople that they would be safe, they felt too many people knew they were there. They wrote Boris in Paris, asking him and Paulette to visit - a code for needing help. In August, Boris and Paulette brought them forged identity papers under the names of Michel and Maria Potapoff. On September 1, Boris and Jacob returned to Paris, and once it was safe, Sonia and Paulette followed. Jacob and Sonia were given refuge by Mrs. Mallet, Paulette’s mother, in Soisy-sous-Montmorency. They remained with her until Paris was liberated in late August 1944, and soon after returned to their old apartment, which was still intact. In May 1945, Germany surrendered.

    Following the war, Jacob was still only allowed to work as an agricultural laborer, making it difficult to find a permament position in France. Moreover, he and Sonia were denied French citizenship, so they applied for US visas. They arrived in New York City aboard the SS Marine Falcon on October 21, 1947. They joined Jacob’s father, stepmother, half sister, sister Lydia, and her husband, who had all fled in 1942 from southern France for the United States via Casablanca, Morocco. Jacob’s youngest sister, Sina, died in Riga, where she had been staying with relatives. Miriam and her husband hid in France until the end of the war, and arrived in the US in 1948. While living in the US, Jacob became an illustrator, created illustrations for the Jewish Family Bible, and worked for NBC television. After Sonia passed away, Jacob married Natalie Stein Garik (1915-2006) in December 1976. Ernest and Lucie Audrix, André and Fleur Gall, Boris and Paulette Guervit, Simone Serrière, and Pierre-Charles Toureille were all honored as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.

    Physical Details

    2 folder

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    Conditions on Use
    Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.

    Administrative Notes

    Created by Jacob Barosin (donor's step father) during and following WWII.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 13:38:20
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