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Oral history interview with Ilex Beller

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1281.14 | RG Number: RG-50.146.0014

Ilex Beller, born in 1914 in Galicia, Poland, discusses his Jewish family; his father, who died when Ilex was born; his mother, who had a very hard life; attending a Polish school because the Jewish school was too expensive; his desire to leave Poland because of the rampant antisemitism; leaving in 1929 and arriving in Belgium, where he worked in the coal mines; joining the communist movement and meeting the brothers Akerman (Johan and Gustaf); being expelled from Belgium because he was not allowed to fight for the Belgian military; going in 1934 to Paris, where he lived in Belleville; working for the communist movement in Paris; meeting with party members at a café with Pierre Georges (Colonel Fabien) up until 1936; going to Spain to fight; being injured and going back to France in 1938; being mobilized into the French army in 1940 against the German offensive; being wounded and taken to Rennes, France, where he was operated on; being evacuated to Sète, France, where he was reunited with his wife who was pregnant with their first child; going to Carcassonne, France with other Jewish refugees; the occupation of the Free Zone by the Germans; going to Marseille, then to Lyon with his family; learning that his son (one and a half years old) could be housed in Switzerland so he and his family went to Switzerland where they stayed until the end of the war; crossing the border into Switzerland at the end of 1942; being placed in a military camp; women and children staying in hotels and men staying in work camps; knowing about the extermination camps in the east after speaking with two Germans; the Allied western invasion; returning with his family to Paris, where he began a new life; his numerous friends who did not come back and others who returned from S.T.O camps; the attitude in Switzerland towards the Jews as initially very antisemitic, but how after Stalingrad there was a change in this attitude; life in the labor camp in Switzerland; they were not allowed to exit and re-enter to camp freely; the Jewish culture in the camps; his re-entry into France and a normal life; the veterans returning to France who had numerous problems (e.g. no lodgment, unable to find their families); creating an organization for children who were without their parents; having two other sons after the war; his travels after the war to Poland; and his wishes to transmit his memory to future generations.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Beller, Ilex
Perez, Fania
interview:  1994 June 27
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 20:12:29
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