Szulim Malach Vice-President

I have never found my family again

Fifty years since I engaged like so many other Jewish immigrants into the French Army for the lasting of the war. But I did not imagine that I’ll have to wear the uniform for more than five years. I even had forgotten that a soldier might lose a leg, an arm and even be killed. Instead I thought that I was of those who survive to wars. Anyway I did not imagine this war to last longer than WW1. First I had to learn the job of soldier. I was sent to the Barcarès Camp (Pyrénées Orientales), I was assigned to the 22nd one of the three Infantry Regiments of Foreign Volunteers. The first time I put on my uniform,  it pleased me a lot and I felt like a sportsman in it. It’s with that spirit that I accomplished the trainings commanded by the instructor officer. I wanted to go sooner to the front in order to fight against the Germans, who had shown what they were able to, by bombing the civil population in France.  With a great will I did my best to learn to manipulate the weapons. At the same time I thought of my wife and child that I had left behind. In Barcarès we lived in very uncomfortable barracks where ruled the fleas.  They danced merciless on our bodies, which did not help to improve our moral, but at last we got used to them and they to us. Our future and regretted Vice-President Jacob Gromb Kenig created that song “The fleas of Barcarès”. We sang that song when going to maneuvers and then when we left to the front. There we learned the real face of war with its dead, its wounded. I was made prisoner  like many soldiers. Despite these sufferings I still had some instants of joy when I received letters from the wife with pictures of our child. It’s thinking of them that I made my duty. In 1943 I received a mail from our neighbor telling me that they had been deported. First I waited for letters, even if I never received any, I kept hoping that at the end of the war we would start again our family life. The day when I returned, my apartment was empty, and overall I’ve never seen my wife and child again. The quarter commissaire, just could confirm that they had been deported. I spent my first free night at the center  for repatriated  at the Gare du Nord. The next day I met a neighbor that told me with tears the brutality of the arrest of my family. I felt a feeling of bitterness, my engagement did not help to save my family, and my health problems that started then are still there.  

                                Szulim Malach,
                                                      stalag IB ID 28366