Testimony of Charles Golgevit

To engage oneself in 1939 and volunteer to fight in war at age 29, leaving a wife and a two year old child isn’t something easy to do… No one can do it wantonly…For me though it was natural. That was a logic step in my life: in Poland I experienced misery discrimination, the worker that I was at eleven, strikes, demonstrations, the fights with the police, the arrests that filled up my day to day life… Arrived in Brussels in 1931, without papers nor money, life wasn’t pinky either. In 1933 after Hitler reached the power in Germany, I walked to Amsterdam to join the gathering for peace… Then Belgium did not want me anymore and banned me. And when I arrived to Paris beginning of February 1934, I had not yet legalized my status, I was immediately part of the large antifascist demonstrations from February 6th to 12th.
In 1937 a child was born at home, and in 1939, the war. So naturally I volunteer to the French army against the nazi Germany.
To tell Barcarès, the 22snd RMVE, the front, the many dead and the five long years of captivity and sufferings is important. But I would like to tell here two events which I have on my heart. Beginning 1943, being prisoner in camp 383 in Hohenfels, a camp for Jews and other strong minded sturdy heads… I started to get anxious, no news from my wife…I knew that she joined in the Resistance (M.O.I.). Our language was a bit coded, and some letters were censured. End of July I received a card from a “friend” telling “Your wife was arrested, like all the other patriots, she had good moral and was very brave, your son is in good shape, he is taken care of”. The choc was terrible. But being confident in the issue of the war, I made everything I could to keep a high moral.
Six weeks later I decided to send this card to my wife’s relatives, who lived in Brussels with false names (all partisans), to tell them the sad news…
The second event unforgettable was the Liberation. On May first 1945, we were freed by the American Army in the south of Germany, my wife was freed the same day by the Red Army north of Berlin. A few days later we were embarked in Regensbourg in cattle wagon in order to be repatriated. The train moved slowly, stopped frequently, the journey was very long…
One morning, the 14th or 15th of May, the train started again, I looked through the open door and saw passing the Château-Thierry train station. I grabbed my bag and my great coat and jumped out from the moving train. The friends probably thought that I got mad… In fact I had suddenly remembered anxiously that my son was probably close to Château-Thierry. Also the people on the platform were afraid to see a soldier jumping down from the train. But soon someone understood and asked me whether I was the father of “little Jeannot” who had been hidden at the Levavasseur’s home in Mont-Saint-Père? After hearing my “Yes!” they all came around me and told me that the little one was in good health. They already knew that little Jeannot was a Jewish kid… They said that his aunt Guta came from Belgium and that she took our son to Brussels to her parents, in order to console them from the cruel lost of their younger son Moshké, gunned by the nazis at age 22… On may 17th as I arrived to Paris I started running in all the repatriation centers… Eleven days and eleven nights I run everywhere. On Sunday, May the 27th at the demonstration of the “fédérés” wall, there was already a group of survivors, partisans.. And the next day at 5 a.m. my wife knocked at the door… After two years spent in Auschwitz… This is unforgettable.

By Charles Golgevit
Article published in Notre Volonté N° 2 Nouvelle Série (192)
October-November 1989