SERGE BAC

      

Named Ovsei or Ovche or Govche (pronounce Guavsha), according to his different administrative documents, to which one can add according to his Jewish affiliation Yeshua Ben Abel, and family named Bâc, was born on February 13th 1906 in Tighina (Romanian name of the previous Russian town of Bender or Bendery, that became Romanian after WW1), then again named Bender or Bendery when it became soviet after WW2, till now in the secessionist province of Transnistria located in the Moldavian Republic, the man who in France will be named Serge BAC. Sharing the ideals of the 1917 revolution that shaped his all life.

This son of a family of three sons and four daughters, one of which accidental died, and which father died during the early twenties , joins his two brothers already in Paris, but lacking of a residence permit he is expelled back to Romania. He comes back to France in 1928 and thanks to a « go-between » who provides him with forged documents he settles in Paris as a tailor. Govsii or Govsec, chooses to be called Serge and works as a tailor, a profession he learned in Tighina.

Having crossed successfully the borders his three sisters and his mother arrives in France. One of his sisters will be deported in July 1944. In 1937 he marries a Polish Jewish saleswoman , Zysla (Gisèle in French) Finkelsztejn. They have a boy Abel in 1938.

Serge engaged himself once before the Munich agreements and again at the war declaration. After a short assignment in Alsace starting may 1940, his 22nd RMVE is sent to the Somme front, near Péronne. Despite their fierce resistance, they finally gave up June 6th 1940 on command of their officers. Their resistance, constituting the last organized front-line, allows tens of thousands of French soldiers to escape. Taken prisoner, Serge is sent to Germany near Furstenberg. A part of the journey is done by feet, often under the stone’s throws when crossing through German towns. Just before leaving, Serge and his companions bury their id’s in the yard of a barracks where they are gathered, in order to hide their Jewish origin. Finally they uncover their origin to avoid serious retaliations against all the pows.

Then despite being Jewish, Serge is protected by his P.O.W status (Geneva Convention) whereas the Spaniards are sent to Matthausen and Buchenwald. During that period of time he survives to dysentery without any drug. He is part of a resistance ring within the camp, “the patriotic front” of the Stalag II B, with a communist lead, which executes diverse sabotages and distributes an underground newspaper to counter the Nazi and Vichy propaganda, thanks in particular to listening to the broadcasting of Radio Moscow.

In 1945, while the Russian army is progressing, Serge and his companions are sent on the roads. The old German soldiers assigned to watch them, actually abandoned them to meet the Americans. Serge and his companions are rather walking, very close to Berlin, where they can see the bombing, toward the Soviets from which they protect German women and their children from possible exactions. After a while in the Soviet sector,from which he will keep a good remembrance, he is transferred in the American sector and then repatriated to LeBourget by airlift.

When he comes home on June 6th 1945, the concierge tells him that his wife and son aren’t there any more. They have been arrested (Abel was hardly four), kept in Drancy and then, separately sent to Auschwitz. He did receive mail from his wife though all the time he was prisoner. Actually that mail was sent by his family in law, which survived in Paris and wanted to preserve his moral. Nevertheless, he retrieved his flat free and not occupied by “Aryans” , which was the case for many Jewish homes, he also finds his furnitures, tools, sewing machine; as POW his belongings had been saved and protected under seals! Serge resumes his profession, tailor for men, first under a boss, and then at home.

He gets the French citizenship in 1947, and the same years marries Rose Halpern, Romanian who came from Jassy in the thirties, also widow. During the war, she was associated to resistance actions and leaved hidden with her daughter after her husband, a Polish Jew and communist resistant had been arrested and deported. A few months after the wedding was born Arnold.

Serge Bac, decorated with the volunteer fighter Cross 1939-1945 (Croix du Combattant Volontaire 1939-1945), dies October 29th 1994 at home in Paris in the 18th arrondissement, 146 rue Ordener.