A contribution from Simone Fénal member of our director committee
M. Leizer Miliband (in the middle)
Simone Fenal's father
My father, that hero.
A summer evening in 1940, it’s almost the night. While little girls are dreaming in the bottom of their child beds, I’m pressing very strongly my mother’s hand, we are both waiting before the 8 rue Bagnolet where we live. I do not understand why, but I feel that my mother is nervous. I am too, I’m scared, but suddenly my father is standing in front of us. How has he arrived till there. I feel happy, he lift me in his arms, my mother cries and I find him so thin! He is wearing a kind of kaki large coat too wide for him. But it’s the same to me, what’s really counts is that I know that we will be together again. I learned afterwards, that like hundred others, he volunteered to go and defend France, the country he considered as his new fatherland, after the difficult years in Poland.
But I learned, when he told with a lot of humou to his nephew, with a match between the teeth, the chapters of his stay in Barcarès, the hay, the lice, the dirtiness, the uniform so heavy to wear by rainy weather.
For me as an adult, all these images mingle each other: the large table in our room, the Sundays morning when we went to hear the fanfare band under the kiosk of “la Réunion” square, the evenings when we went to some parent’s friends, for the tea and I, who slept during the way back on pa’s shoulder. All those memories, including the visit to Beaune-le-Rolande where we saw him, mother and I, for the last time after he applied for the “green ticket”, those cannot vanish and remain engraved in the common history of this generation of courageous men, so young and so strong, able to volunteer to the service of a country they believe to be the country of democracy and justice; but remain engraved also in their individual history which made a hero from each of them.