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Oral history interview with Guy Sitbon

Oral History | Accession Number: 2016.88.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0875

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.

Guy “Isaac” Sitbon (also transcribed as “Chetbon”), born in Monastir, Tunisia on January 9, 1934, describes his father, Sion “Saul” (Maurice) Sibon; his two older sisters and his younger brother Alain “Jacob”; the ultra-orthodox Jewish community and its history in Monastir; his paternal grandparents living with his family and only speaking Arabic; his parents, who spoke Arabic together and French with the children; not experiencing antisemitism as a child; their Muslim neighbors coming over and turning on the lights or the stove on Shabbat; his mother’s insistence that her children receive a modern education; attending a Hebrew school; living across the street from Habib Bourguiba during the early 1930s and how relations between Bourguiba and his father were cordial; growing up in a home where there were no books, radio, nor newspapers until after WWII; the lack of awareness among the local Jewish community regarding the outside world; the arrival of the Germans and how this motivated him to read newspapers and attend Communist Party meetings; how two German officers made it a habit to come eat at the Sitbon table every Shabbat; attending a boarding school in Sousse, Tunisia until his family moved to Tunis, Tunisia; getting thrown out of various high schools for his political activities; how after the war neither the non-Jewish Europeans nor the Muslims were happy that the Germans were defeated and that Vichy was no longer ruling the protectorate; how after independence in 1956, the new Tunisian State started to expropriate private homes and enterprises; Jews trying to remain at their jobs, but were relegated to humble tasks in the new administration; his parents fleeing circa 1961; his father’s business and property being taken away; studying in Paris, France; becoming a North African correspondent for the daily paper Le Monde in the early 1960s; working for Jeune Afrique and Le Nouvel Observateur; his thoughts on the influence of Israel and the Holocaust on modern Jewish identity; his view on the impact of the Holocaust on North African Jews; his view that Tunisian Jews who went to Israel never really assimilated and were not really accepted by the Ashkenazi Jewish establishment; the success of Tunisian Jews who immigrated to France; and his view of contemporary North African Jews.

Interviewee
Guy Sitbon
Interviewer
Peggy Frankston
Date
2016 April 25  (interview)
Geography
Paris (France)
Language
French
Extent
2 digital files : WAV.