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Studio portrait of Josef Roger Cheraki taken while he was enlisted for forced labour.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 92007

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    Studio portrait of Josef Roger Cheraki taken while he was enlisted for forced labour.
    Studio portrait of Josef Roger Cheraki taken while he was enlisted for forced labour.


    Studio portrait of Josef Roger Cheraki taken while he was enlisted for forced labour.
    Circa 1942
    Algiers, [Alger; North Africa] Algeria?
    Variant Locale
    Al Jezair
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Denise Layani

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Denise Layani

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Denise Layani (born Denise Cheraki) is the daughter of Josef Roger Cheraki (b. February 10, 1915 in Algiers) and Elisabet Seiberl (b. June 13, 1910 in Salzburg). She was born on July 7, 1944 in Algiers and has two brothers: Alfred (b. July 12, 1937) and Jacques (b. April 6, 1941). Denise's father worked as a pharmacy assistant. Elisabet lost her mother at an early age and grew up with cousins. She left Germany in 1928 and went to Switzerland where she learned handiwork and collected a trousseau. After hearing that wealthy Jews in Algiers were in need of help, and she went there and became a full time governess. She met Josef, and they married on October 27, 1936 in Algiers.

    In 1941 Josef lost his job, Alfred was expelled from school, and they later had to sell their house. In 1942 Denise's parents and brothers had to wear the yellow star. Boys threw stones at her brothers. Josef was sent to a forced labor camp for a few months. They arranged, however, to send some medicine to him which caused him to lose weight rapidly. Eventually he was not able to continue to work and was transferred to a hospital clinic and then released. Denise's grandparents lived with them and helped care for the children. Elisabet sewed clothes to support the family. The family had ration cards, but due to her Elisabet's strong German accent, she was called a "Salle Boches" when trying to obtain food from the French. She then had to obtain food from the Arab population and felt totally humiliated.

    Elisabet still was trying to help support the family when she gave birth to Denise in 1944. Her milk dried up, and as a result Denise became malnourished and developed bone problems. In 1946 the family relocated to Toulouse, France where they remained for two years. Her father bought a grocery store and worked together with her grandfather and other older brothers as well. However, he missed living near the beach and relocated the family to Marseille, where Denise grew up. She attended a Christian school as her father did not want her to have anything to do with Judaism. She was registered as a Protestant, and when asked by her classmates she told them that her parents converted during the war. She felt miserable doing this and always wanted to return to her roots. At the age of sixteen, Denise was thrown out of school for misbehaving. She started buying books on Judaism and went to Marseille to meet with youngsters from the Dror Zionist youth movement. She learned some Hebrew and went to school in the evening. When her father learned of this he became very angry.

    Denise met her future husband, a religious Jew at a Chanukah party; they wrote clandestinely and saw each other occasionally. After two years Denise introduced him to her father. He objected to the union and instead wanted Denise to marry a wealthy Christian instead. Despite her father's objections, Denise married her boyfriend at the age of twenty-two.They immigrated to Israel where her husband set up his own pharmacy in Tel Aviv. Today they reside in Jerusalem where she has four children and eight grandchildren.
    Record last modified:
    2010-10-20 00:00:00
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