Ilex Beller President

He was born Mach 6th 1914 in Grodzisko, a Jewish town (shtetl) in the south of Poland. He lived there all his childhood till the age of 14. After the Heder (Jewish school) and the Polish elementary school he went to the Hebraic high school in Przemysl. In 1926 he emigrate to Antwerp (Belgium) where he joins a part of his relatives. He start learning the cutting of diamonds. But then happens the 1929 world crisis. All the diamond workshops close. Thousands workers are jobless. To earn his bread Ilex Beller is working in every possible job: he works in the glass factory in Merxem, in the steel factory in Hovoken and in the coal mines in Charleroi. In 1934 he comes to Paris. In 1936 during the Spanish civil war he engages in the International Brigades to fight against fascism. He is wounded in the battle Teruel. One year later he returns to Paris and become a fur professional at home. In March 1939 he marries a young Jewish immigrant from Poland Cesia Perla. In 1939 at WW2 declaration he engaged as a volunteer in the French Army. He fights in the ranks of the 22ndIRFV. On May 26th 1940he is seriously woundedin the Somme battle. Transported to Rennes he is operated and evacuated to Biarritz and Sète. He is decorated with the War Cross with Palm and with the Military Medal. After the armistice he is demobilized in Carcassonne where he works for two years as a fur professional. His first child Isi is born there. When the Germans take over the “Free Zone” he succeeds to escape to Switzerland where he isinterned in a work camp. In 1944, back in Paris, he settles as a furrier. He work for 26 years till retirement. Meanwhile two more sons were born: Georges in 1946 and Roland in 1950. Free from any professional activity, Ilex Beller feels the irrepressible need to tell the village of his childhood by writing and painting. Active member of the UEVACJ which he is president since 1986 till 2004, and then honor president till his death in 2005. having always dreamed to paint, he could only dedicate totally to his art at the age of 59 when he retired.His work has been exposed several time at the Marais Cultural Center in Paris, at the Gallery of Fine Artsin Brussels, at the “Glas-Plast” in Bad Kisingenin Germany, at the Museum of Naïve Art in Paris. Some of his paintings are exposed in the “Yad Vashem” Museum, in the Museum of Art and History of Judaism in Paris and in several private collections as well.Ilex Beller is the author of an album containing 40 color reproductions of his works: “They killed my village” published in 1981 at the Cercle d’Art Editions in Paris and “The life in Shtetl” with 80 color reproductions published in Editions du Scribe. This work was translated to English and published at the Holmes and Mayer Editions, New York, and also in German by Lieder Verlag in Tecklenbourg in Germany. This text was printed on the second and third cover page of Ilex Beller’s book “De mon Shtetl à Paris” at the Scribe Edititions in paris