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Oral history interview with René Elbez

Oral History | Accession Number: 2015.480.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0867

René Elbez, born on January 27, 1921 in Constantine, Algeria, describes being the youngest of seven children; his father’s background; attending the local French secular school and the Alliance Israélite Universelle; the violent uprising and pogrom against the Jews in Constantine in August 1934; his family’s religious observations; the anti-Jewish laws during WWII; volunteering with other Jews to fight in the war; being sent to Galfa, Tunisia, where they unloaded trucks and took care of supplies; General Montgomery arriving in Tunisia with thousands of Italian prisoners; Operation Torch and being part of the 14ème Compagnie Muletière; belonging to the “Bourliers” and being responsible for repairing the leather saddles for the horses and mules; going to Italy; a typhus epidemic which ravaged Constantine during the war; moving across the Belvedere chain of the Appenine mountains; a commanding officer who was antisemitic; being wounded during a heavy bombardment and sent to a hospital in Naples, Italy in February 1944; being in Sienna, Italy when he learned that his mother had died in Algeria; going with the 14ème Compagnie Muletière in December 1944 to the port of Toulon in France; heading north through France passing through Marseille, Belfort, the département du Doub, and Selestat; remaining in Bonhomme, France in early 1945; moving to Spielberg, near Baden-Baden in the spring of 1945; coming across what remained of a synagogue in Saint Dié les Vosges, in Lorraine, France; being released from military duty in January 1946; getting married to Eliette El-Baz Nesecksi in January 1946; returning to the French civil service at the main post office in Algiers; having to write a report about the terrorist attacks that were starting to occur with alarming frequency in 1953-1954; moving with his family to Paris, France in 1961; doing work with public housing; and his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
René Elbez
Peggy Frankston
interview:  2015 December 08
2 digital files : WAV.