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Close-up portrait of a Jewish boy standing outside the front steps of the Masgelier children's home in France.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 69392

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    Close-up portrait of a Jewish boy standing outside the front steps of the Masgelier children's home in France.
    Close-up portrait of a Jewish boy standing outside the front steps of the Masgelier children's home in France.

Pictured is Israel Lichtenstein.


    Close-up portrait of a Jewish boy standing outside the front steps of the Masgelier children's home in France.

    Pictured is Israel Lichtenstein.
    Masgelier, [Creuse] France
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Israel Lichtenstein

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Israel Lichtenstein
    Source Record ID: Collections: 2005.61

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Israel Lichtenstein is the son of Menachem Mendel Lichtenstein and Shifra Kasimersky Lichtenstein. He was born on November 11, 1932 in Paris, France. His parents grew up in religious families in Poland. His father was the son of a rabbi; his mother became an orphan after both parents passed away from a typhus epidemic on Passover eve. Despite the fact that his grandparents were strictly Orthodox, Israel's parents were religiously liberal Zionists. They traveled to Italy where they married in 1932 in the hope of going from there to Palestine. However, they were unable to obtain immigration certificates to Palestine and went to France instead. There they were joined by Menachem Mendel's father, as well as several of his brothers. Menachem Mendel worked as a knitter and served as secretary treasurer of the Poalei Zion (socialist Zionist movement) in France. At the start of World War II, Rabbi Lichtenstein encouraged his sons to enlist in the French army out of gratitude to their adopted country. One son perished at the front in 1940. Since Shifra was living alone and had to work to support the family, she sent Israel away to a children's home in Montmorency in 1939. He was the only French child there; all the other children were Jewish refugees from Austria and Germany. Following the German invasion of France in May 1940, the home was evacuated and the children, including Israel, were sent to the Masgelier children's home. Meanwhile, after France's capitulation, Menachem Mendel was demobilized in Toulouse. He returned to Paris and registered with the police as required by law. Shortly thereafter, on May 14, 1941, he was arrested and sent him south to the Beaune-la-Rolande internment camp. From there he was deported on June 27, 1942 to Auschwitz where he perished. Since Israel knew that his mother was now alone, he requested permission to return to Paris to live with her. Israel returned to Paris in either February or March 1942 after first spending a few days with his grandfather in Pujaudran, a small village near Toulouse. Though forced to wear a Jewish star, Israel again attended school that spring. On July 16, 1942, when Shifra went out to buy milk, the shopkeeper warned her that Jews were being rounded up throughout the city. She and Israel went into hiding. They first stayed with different neighbors and then fled south to the unoccupied zone. They traveled together with Shifra's sister-in-law and her two sons, Marcel and Joseph. When they tried to cross the demarcation line, the French police arrested them and sent them to a hotel in Chateauroux. They told them they would be sent from there to the Nexon internment camp. Shifra decided that since Israel already knew how to get to his grandfather's home, he should return there with his older cousin Marcel in order to escape deportation. The boys reached Pujaudran, but their grandfather felt the boys would be safer in the care of OSE and told them to return to Masgelier. Meanwhile, their families were sent from Chateauroux to the Rivesaltes and then Gurs concentration camps. Joseph was released from the camp and permitted to join the other boys in Masgelier. The boys remained in Masgelier from July 1942 until May 1943. At that point, their mothers somehow managed to bribe their way out of camp and flee to Pujaudran to reunite with their father-in-law using false papers. The boys also returned to Pujaudran where the family remained together until liberation. After liberation, they returned to Paris. Israel's grandfather became the secretary of the rabbinic council in Paris. Though he was strictly orthodox, he encouraged Israel to join an array of Jewish organizations of varying political leanings. Israel finished high school and attended medical school. He later immigrated to Israel.
    Record last modified:
    2005-09-29 00:00:00
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