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A small town in the Alpes Maritimes celebrates its liberation.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 21254

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    A small town in the Alpes Maritimes celebrates its liberation.
    A small town in the Alpes Maritimes celebrates its liberation.

Pictured in front is the mayor of the town who was also a member of the resistance.  Pictured in French uniform is Alexander Fainas.

    Overview

    Caption
    A small town in the Alpes Maritimes celebrates its liberation.

    Pictured in front is the mayor of the town who was also a member of the resistance. Pictured in French uniform is Alexander Fainas.
    Date
    1944
    Locale
    Rocquebrune, [Alpes-Maritimes] France
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Renee Wehrmann

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Renee Wehrmann
    Source Record ID: Collections: 2007.525.1

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Biography
    Renee Wehrmann (born Renee Fainas) is the daughter of Alexander (Sasha) Fainas (b. Kovno, April 24, 1903) and Luba (Aimee) Spiegelglass (b. March 18, 1906). She was born in Berlin, Germany on March 9, 1929. Renee has two brothers: Joseph (Josy) was born on April 11, 1935 in Paris, and Georges (Giora) was born on February 5, 1944 in Monaco. At the beginning of World War I, Renee's maternal grandfather, Jacob Spiegelglass escaped from Russia to Denmark with the expectation that his family would come shortly. His wife was unable to join him and managed to return in her parent's home in Vilna along with their three children. Her husband remained in Denmark for 2 to 3 years during which time he became very wealthy. After the war he sent for his family, and a few years later they moved to Berlin. Jacob Spiegelglass became the Lithuanian commercial attache and also opened a successful jewelry store.

    Renee's paternal grandparents, Joseph and Yetta Fainas, lived in Kovno, Lithuania and had six children. Owners of a prosperous paper factory, they customarily sent their children to study abroad. Their son Alexander came to Berlin to study engineering and met Luba Spiegelglass. They married in 1926 and settled in Kovno, where Alexander represented German electrical companies in Lithuania. After Hitler came to power and Alexander lost his job as a German trade representative, he and Luba decided to move to Paris where they had spent their honeymoon. Alexander left at the end of 1933 and Luba followed six months later together with her mother-in-law Yetta Fainas and other relatives. Alexander began a new radio business, "La Voix d'Or" (Golden Voice) and when that did not work out, he tried his hand at a number of other jobs. Renee attended a Russian kindergarten and a French first grade. After the German invasion of France, Renee's father registered as a volunteer in the French army. Since he had engineering training, he was sent to work in an armaments factory for approximately one year. Renee, her mother, grandmother and younger brother Josy left on one of the last trains out of Paris to St. Yore where Alexander reunited with them. From St. Yore they proceeded to Aubenas in Ardeche where they remained for a few months. In the fall of 1940, the family moved to Lyon. Though they lived under their real names, they did not register as Jews. They rented an unfurnished apartment which was safer than living in a hotel like most refugees. Renee and Josy both attended school, and their father worked in various odd jobs as well as with the underground. They also tried to immigrate to the United States, but the day Alexander went to pick up their visas in Marseilles, the Germans occupied "free" France. In April 1943, Renee's father received an order to report to the police station together with other foreigners. After seeing people being rounded up, he asked permission from the police to call his wife to inform her that he was not returning for lunch. Taking the opportunity, he fled to Rocquebrune-Cap-Martin which was occupied then by the Italians. He went to Mr. Savitsky, a former minister in the Lithuanian cabinet, who was working on his memoirs in the south of France. Mr. Savitsky helped Alexander find a house for the family in the hamlet of Rocquebrune. Equipped with proper travel papers, Alexander returned to Lyon and brought the family back with him. From Lyon they took a train to Grenoble and then a bus to Nice. Though the Gestapo entered the train searching for Jews, they passed by their compartment after seeing the children nonchalantly playing cards with their parents and grandmother. For a year, Renee attended school in Menton which was an hour and a half away from Rocquebrune. One day the Gestapo boarded her bus but let her go after seeing her school identity card which her father himself helped fabricate. After Germany took control of the Italian zone in autumn 1943, Renee hid in a Catholic convent "Les Dames de St. Maur" in Monaco until liberation. Josy remained with his parents and younger brother Georges who was born in Monaco in February 1944. After liberation the family was granted immediate French citizenship because of Sasha's work with the underground. He became a lieutenant in the French army and put in charge of de-mining southern France. The family remained in the south until 1947 when they returned to Paris. Renee later became a professor of French literature at Pace University. Her brother Joseph Fainas became director of the Continental Grain Corp. in Geneva, and Georges (now Giora Hod) became a vascular surgeon in Tel Aviv.
    Record last modified:
    2006-11-02 00:00:00
    This page:
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