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Oral history interview with Reine Tata Chouraqui

Oral History | Accession Number: 2013.51.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0688

Reine Tata Chouraqui, born on September 29, 1924 in Oran, Algeria, describes her mother, Ester Benayoun, and her father, Chaloum Chouraqui, both of whom were Jewish French citizens; her siblings Josephine (born in 1916), Dina (born in 1918), Léon (born in 1922), and Simone (born in 1927); living in Paris, France with her family from 1927 to 1928 before moving to Marseille, France; her father, who was more observant than her and her siblings; not having much connection to the Jewish community; Jews being asked to register with local authorities; not losing their French nationality like many Algerian Jews; voluntarily signing up to work for the Germans (though not a form of Service Obligatoire du Travail) in order to make money and be in a protected situation; working as a house-hand in Aubagne, France; how the civilians were constantly hungry and she was caught stealing food and sent to a convent for a few months; her father’s assistance to a Jewish German family to get visas to leave France; being sheltered from the news of the roundups in Paris and Marseille; being arrested with her family in late January 1943 and held at the Prison des Baumettes; being transferred to the train station (headed for the internment camp of Royallieu in Compiègne) and avoiding the transport along with her mother and her sister Simone (her father escaped the train later); remaining in Marseille with her family; her sister Joséphine, who was pregnant and sent briefly to an internment camp near Marseille (possibly Les Milles); being sent with her entire family to the département du Lot, in a tiny village called Terrou; working as a typist for the communist resistance group, Francs Tireurs et Partisans Français (FTPF); living with the group for over a year, transporting suitcases with weapons and coded messages; her memories of Capitaine Gaston and a Capitaine Georges, and never knowing their real names; how her group intercepted parachutes from England that were intended for the English resistance network or the Armée Secrète; being stopped during a mission at a road-block by the Gestapo and being tortured by five young German soldiers after a coded message she was carrying in her hair fell out; being rescued by her comrades after she was sexually abused by the five men; never telling her family about the incident; being ostracized by her sister Joséphine, who did not approve of Reine living with the resistance fighters; being very patriotic and continuing to work with the FTPF for this reason; how even after the liberation in August 1944 and at the end of the war (May 1945) she was ready to sign up to fight in Indochina; being a minor and her father refusing to sign the papers authorizing her to go; losing contact with the group; learning that her siblings, Dina and Léon, died in the Sobibor death camp; working at the post office; meeting Bernie Marks, one of the American sailors piloting the Exodus; her lack of interest in Zionism or immigrating to Israel; Bernie Marks fathering her son, Bernard; opening a successful bar-restaurant and even a hotel de passe (a brothel) to have the means to provide for her son; her son finding his father in Cincinnati at the age of 20 in 1967; and her son’s success and children.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Chouraqui, Reine Tata
Frankston, Peggy
interview:  2013 February 19
creation: Bouc-Bel-Air (France)
3 digital files : WAV.
Record last modified: 2022-06-24 20:20:11
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