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Benny Guinossar papers

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2002.270.1

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    The collection consists of papers, correspondence, and photographs documenting the Holocaust-era experiences of Benny Guinossar (born Benny Szczupak), originally of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Documents include two certificates from Ecoles Primaires Israelites for Benny and his brother Alfred, 1942; one certificate from D'Etudes Primaires for Alfred Szczupak, 1942; one Diplome d'Honneur for Alfred Szupak, for the school year 1941-1942; two documents received in Port de Bouc; document from Prefecture de la Seine attesting that Bernard Benjamin Szczupak was born on May 20, 1930 in Frankfurt and obtained elementary school education in March 1947; newspaper clippings regarding the Exodus 1947; and a vaccination certificate issued by OSE, Marseille March 16, 1948. Correspondence includes one postcard from Beaune La Rolande from Mme. Edelist; one letter from Beaune La Rolande, dated August 1 (no year); one letter from Benny’s uncle Paul in Paris to an uncle in Palestine, 1940; three letters from Frankfurt to Palestine, requesting visas; and two letters from World Ort Union to Mr. Bleiwas, 1948. Photographs include depictions of Benny in hiding, in Hachsara training, and in Hamburg.
    inclusive:  1940-1948
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Benny Guinossar
    Collection Creator
    Benny Guinossar
    Benny Guinossar (born Bernard Benjamin Szczupak) was born on 20 May 1930 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany to Josef and Cilly (née Baumann, 1899-) Ginzburg. Josef (1894-1940) was originally from Poland and immigrated illegally to Germany in the inter-war period using false papers with the surname Szczupak. Josef owned a greenhouse and worked as the gardener at a Jewish cemetery. Benny had one older brother, Alfred (1927-). The family observed Jewish holidays and attended synagogue but also celebrated Christmas at home. Early in 1938 Benny was forced to move to a Jewish school, and his parents began applying for visas to emigrate from Germany.

    In June 1938 Josef was arrested and imprisoned at the Dachau concentration camp. He was released after two months, but prior to that an SS officer visited the family with a box of ashes identified as his. The family then went to Hamburg to purchase tickets for passage to the United States, but the cost was doubled and they were unable to pay. They returned to home to Frankfurt. During Kristallnacht Josef was arrested again and sent to Dachau. He was murdered in the camp on 29 December 1940.

    After Josef’s arrest during Kristallnacht, Cilly arranged to have her sons sent on a Kindertransport to France where her sister and brother-in-law, Esther and Paul Edelist, could care for them in Paris. The children departed Germany on 3 January 1939. Shortly after the brothers’ arrival in Paris, Esther and Paul sent them on a Kindertransport to Switzerland. The boys were denied entry at the border and were told to return to Paris on food. The guides of the transport decided bring the children into Switzerland illegally and settle them in several different locations.

    Benny and Alfred were in Switzerland for approximately ten months before they were arrested by the Swiss police and sent back to France by train. Their trip back coincided with the German invasion of France, and their train was hit by German bombs. After spending a few months in Normandy, the boys finally returned to their aunt's house in Paris. The brothers remained at their aunt’s house until early summer 1942. To ensure their safety, Esther and Paul hid Benny on a farm outside the city on July 14. Benny did not want to be separated from his brother and tried to jump off the train. Alfred gave him his watch and promised to join Benny on the farm soon. Two days later, Alfred and Esther were rounded up and taken to the Velodrome d'Hiver and deported to Auschwitz where they perished.

    Benny lived under the name Jean while on the farm, but was unhappy there. After about a year, a stranger approached Benny while he was tending the cows and talked to him about the work of the Maquis resistance. Immediately interested in joining, Benny lied about his age, claiming he was 17, though he was only 14 at the time. For the next two years Benny assisted the Maquis in blowing up train tracks and other forms of sabotage. In the fall of 1944, under the pretense of selling small bottles of cognac, Benny entered a German army base and sabotaged their vehicles by emptying small bottles of sugar water into the gas tanks. One of the soldiers caught him and beat him up in an attempt to get him to reveal who had sent him. Benny refused and three days later he was released in the wake of the rapid German retreat.

    In December 1944 he was sent to Limoges and put in contact with the OSE (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants). From there he was sent to the Malmaison children's home near Paris. After Benny learned none of his family had survived, he decided to immigrate to Palestine. In 1946 he joined a hachshara (Zionist collective) in Toulouse, and six months later he boarded the illegal immigrant ship that became the Exodus 1947. When he was forced to return to Europe, Benny was sent to the Poppendorf displaced persons camp. He remained there until the end of January 1948, when he set off for Emden, then Bergen-Belsen where he was issued false papers. From there he went to Marseilles where boarded a ship and successfully immigrated to Israel.

    Physical Details

    1 folder
    1 oversize folder

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    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.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Benny Guinossar donated his collection to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2002.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 14:19:53
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