Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research

Login

Register

Help

Skip to main content

Oral history interview with Léon Klein

Oral History | Accession Number: 2013.310.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0726

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

Léon Klein, born on November 17, 1921 in Paris, France, describes his Polish parents, Israel and Karola Klein; his father’s boutique where he sold different types of underwear; his parents’ naturalization before 1927; his brother Jacky, who was born in 1928; attending French public schools, first in the 20th arrondissement and then in Romainville in 1927; receiving religious instruction from a rabbi who came to the house and being bar mitzvahed at a synagogue in the 20th arrondissement; how his family did not keep Kosher nor attend services; being apprentice to a tailor named Gaftarnik (1934-1940); being enthusiastic about the Front Populaire and his activities with the group; being wounded during the clashes between the Front Populaire and the far-right group, La Cagoule (Comite secret d'action revolutionnaire); his memories of the beginning of the war, including the bombing raids; the mass exodus when the Germans invaded France in May 1940 and leaving Paris with his family; refusing to wear the Jewish star; going with a friend to a small village called La Loupe, where the mayor and a schoolteacher made him fake identity papers; working for a year on a farm and sleeping in the barn with the cows; returning to Paris around 1942 and moving in with his non-Jewish girlfriend, Jeanne Cambron; the births of their daughter in 1944 and son in 1947; getting married after the war and divorcing in the 1950s; working at the tailor’s shop during the war and one of the main employees trying to get him to become active in the MOI; meeting Henri Krasuki, the head of the CGT (a powerful Communist labor union) for many years; learning that people were being gassed to death in the Nazi camps; his activities with the resistance, which included distributing resistance flyers and information; being arrested in July 1944 and sent to the Fresnes prison, where he was tortured; being in Drancy for a few days and escaping from a transport out of the camp with approximately 23 others; asking for shelter from a village priest, who had been suspected of collaboration; arriving back in Paris after the city was liberated; opening a shop for custom-tailored clothing; meeting his second wife; and his post-war meeting with people he knew during the war, including those with whom he escaped such as the Rabbi René Kapel.

Interviewee
Léon Klein
Interviewer
Peggy Frankston
Date
2013 November 22  (interview)
Language
French
Extent
2 digital files : WAV.