Jean Michel and his twin brother Pierre Daniel are the sons of Raoul Joseph Haas (born December 20, 1909) and Hélène Anna Madeleine Levy Haas (born August 15, 1911). The family was Jewish but not religious. Jean and Pierre were born on June 2, 1939 in the town of Belfort in Alsace Lorraine where their father was an engineer and their mother a physician. Shortly after their birth, Raoul was inducted into the army. Hélène's parents knew someone south of Paris who could lodge Hélène and the children so they moved to Dourdan, Essonne in September to be closer to Raoul. After the fall of France in June 1940, Hélène's parents took Jean and Pierre to Anglet near Biarritz. The boys remained with their grandmother until November 1940. Hélène then met her mother at the demarcation line, picked up the boys and took them to Cénac in Dordogne where Raoul was demobilized. On April 27, 1941, Hélène gave birth to a daughter, Jacqueline Eva Pauline. They remained there until October 1941 and then moved to Couzon Mont d'Or once Raoul Haas found work in Lyon. After settling in the town, the family had to report to the mayor's office to declare themselves Jewish. Though Hélène, as a Jew, was no longer allowed to practice medicine, she gave the mayor an intravenous injection that he needed. As payment he issued new identification papers for the entire family without the word "Juif" stamped on them. A second daughter Denise Suzanne Helene was born March 8, 1944. In April 1944, Raoul suspected that the family had been denounced. He and Hélène decided to leave Couzon, after first placing the children in a nearby convent. The family moved to Lyon following its liberation, and then returned to Alsace Loraine in October 1945. During the war, Raoul belonged to a resistance network for the Rhone department based in Saint-Symphorien sur Coise.