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French Army ID tag worn by a Jewish Lithuanian emigre soldier

Object | Accession Number: 2004.642.2

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    French Army ID tag worn by a Jewish Lithuanian emigre soldier


    Brief Narrative
    Dog tag issued to Owsiez (Alexander) Markon, a Jewish emigre from Lithuania, when he served in the French Army from 1927-29. After Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, France declared war on Germany. Alexander was recalled to the Army and served ten months on the Maginot Line. Germany invaded France in May 1940. After the surrender of France in June, Alexander was demobilized. He joined his wife, Raya, who had fled to Toulouse, where their son Alain was born in June 1941. The couple applied for US visas and received them in 1942. The family sailed from Lisbon, Portugal, and arrived in America in November 1942.
    issue:  1929
    issue: Paris (France)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Genya Markon
    Subject: Alexander Markon
    Oswiez (Alexander/Sasha, 1905-1989) Markon, was born in Vilna (now Vilnius), Lithuania. He immigrated to France in the 1920s. From 1927-1929, he served in the French Army and became a French citizen. He studied chemical engineering and received his degree in 1931, from the University of Nancy. He worked in the dairy, brewery, and wine industries. Alexander also received a diploma as a “capacitare” in law on June 21,1932, from the law faculty in Toulouse. In 1936, Alexander met Raya Magid (1910-2005) during a visit to see his mother in Vilna. She had attended school with his sister and they became reacquainted during the visit. When Alexander returned to France, he and Raya carried on a courtship by mail. They were married on February 11, 1937 in France and settled in Paris. Alexander worked as a translator at a publishing company, Dunod. Raya had studied in a commercial school in Lyons, and worked as a secretary.

    On September 1,1939, Germany invaded Poland. Alexander was recalled to the French military, and on September 4, 1939, was drafted to the center of mobilization at Orleans, Loiret. He was sent to the 55th Regiment of the artillery and stationed on the Maginot Line, a series of fortifications along the French-German border. Germany invaded France in May 1940, and in June, France surrendered. Alexander was demobilized and went south in the hopes of finding Raya, who had fled to Toulouse during the exodus from Paris ( L’Exode). He eventually found her by accident in a train station. Later, they found refuge in Leguevin in Haute Garonne.

    Alexander worked as a farm laborer, and later in a shoe factory. The couple’s first child, Alain (1941-1998), was born in Toulouse in June 1941. The Markon family wished to immigrate to the United States, and applied for immigration visas. Raya’s first cousin, Lillian Epstein, lived in the US, and was married to a psychiatrist, Joseph Epstein. Joseph had connections in the US State Department and pleaded their case, eventually helping them to obtain an affidavit to enter the US in 1941. Despite this, they did not receive visas until 1942. With the sponsorship of the American Jewish Joint, the Markon family obtained passage to America aboard a Portuguese ship, the SS Carvalho Araujo. They sailed from Lisbon, Portugal, on October 20, 1942, and arrived in Baltimore, MD, on November 2. From there, they took a train to New York City. They were still there when their daughter, Genya (b.1943), was born two months later.

    Raya’s mother, Genya, died of natural causes in the spring of 1941. Abram, Raya’s father, was executed that summer by German forces in Ponary, just outside Vilna. Raya’s sister, Katia Magid (1905-1965), was confined in the Vilna ghetto following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Katia survived being imprisoned in both Kaiserwald and Stutthof concentration camps, and immigrated to the US in 1947. She found work at the American Museum of Natural History using her language skills. Alexander held many different positions in the food industry, eventually becoming a food chemist for Dr. Brown’s Soda Company (American Beverages).

    Physical Details

    Military Insignia
    Physical Description
    Oval, silver colored metal medal with a horizontal line of 10 circular holes punched across the center. The front has a number and a name engraved above and below the holes. The reverse is engraved with a different number and text above and below the holes which are connected by an incised line. The center edges are slightly pointed and a circular hole is punched through each side. A metal link chain, brown with rust, about 3 inches in length, is attached to each hole and joined at the top by a split key ring.
    overall: Height: 1.375 inches (3.493 cm) | Width: 1.625 inches (4.128 cm) | Depth: 0.250 inches (0.635 cm)
    overall : metal
    front, top, engraved : 1929 / Markon / Owsiez
    front, bottom, engraved : Markon / Owsiez / 19 29 [hole punched between 9 and 2]
    reverse, top, engraved : 756 / SEINE 3 Bau
    reverse, bottom, engraved : SEINE 3 Bau / 756

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Corporate Name
    France. Army

    Administrative Notes

    The dog tag was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004 by Genya Markon, the daughter of Alexander and Raya Magid Markon.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-31 15:02:30
    This page:

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