Jacques & Michel RENCUS,
father and son in the Resistance
Jacques Rencus was born October 18th 1900 in Bucharest (Romania), the sixth son of Leiba and Tzalik Rencus. His father was liquor taster of tsuika, the Romanian spirit. His mother died from pneumonia when he was six months. Jacques was involved in the very last fights of WW1, and did later his service in a unit equivalent to the mountain chasseurs, but in 1923 he was discharged for cardiac murmur. December 7th 1924, Jacques married Etty Rosenberg, daughter of Marc Rosenberg from Falticeni Bukovin. Their first son was born April 18th 1927, the second day of Pessach.Jacques as a Textile trader like his two brothers. They decided to make fortune in France. End 1930, Jacques, Etty and Mircea (renamed Michel for the French administration) arrived in Paris where Jacques tried to mount a textile factory, in association with one of his brothers. It was a financial failure, and Jacques and Etty moved to Périgueux in 1931 in order to sell textile on the wealthy markets of Dordogne. Those were intense work years who payed off, at the eve of war the financial situation of the Rencus was flourishing. A little girl was added to the family in 1934, Lydia. Engaged in the Foreign Volunteers at he very beginning of the war, Jacques was incorporated in the 23rd RMVE and was trained in Barcarès. About the Germans attack of May 1940 and the debacle, Jacques said very few; but Michel told that once back home, his father had a very symbolic gesture: he removed the Mezuzah from the main door frame. One ignores exactly when Jacques became a partisan, but he was part of an audacious action planned to free Belgian officers detained in the Périgueux prison. This poor planned action, led by a group of men decided not to stay idle, was probably when Jacques met those with which he will eventually live the adventure of the Resistance.Before the Germans took over the “Free Zone”, Jacques participated to help the patriots who wanted to join De Gaulle and to fight, to cross first the “demarcation line”. Michel, the a teenager, use to be on the watch and had to signal the approach of any suspect people too close to the line crossing area. For Michel, the resistance also started with a fatigue duty imposed by his father: to copy the extract Nostradamus predictions that announced the defeat of Germany, and Jacques used to send those in anonymous letters to notorious Vichy government supporters in Périgueux. Often did Michel collaborate to the illegal activities of his father, and was successively liaison agent, false id document courier, weapons transporter,watch spy of the German army posted near his high school...Jacques Rencus was involved in many partisans actions. Also the Rencus often harboured partisans who had to “take five” after an audacious operation. The Rencus family was also part of a network who took care of allied pilots whose planes had been shot down over Dordogne. Those where kept in, dressed with civil clothes and led from one hiding place to another in direction of Spain. Michel often remind this story when he had to cross a bridge with an American pilot fellow. The other side of the bridge was guarded by a German soldier equipped with a machine gun. The pilot in panic addressed Michel in English. Michel whistled through his teeth: «Shut up... »On D day, June 6th 1944, father and son, respectively 43 and 17, were mobilised in the Jean Bart Company belonging to the Secrete Army. The SS armoured division Das Reich (sadly renown for having destroyed the Oradour-sur-Glane village and killed all of it’s inhabitants), was moving from the south heading to Normandy, and was harassed constantly by the Dordogne partisans among which were the Rencus.The progression of the SS division was delayed two weeks. Father and son were engaged side to side in the bitter combats against the Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS.Michel again reminds a story when he was in an ambush against German soldiers; those where approaching without knowing about the ambush. Michel had a soldier in his line of sight and asked his officer when he should shoot. The answer was: «you open fire when you can tell the colour of his eyes».
At the end of a patrolling day across the country, while the Germans are all over the place and are chasing the partisans. Michel returned to the camp and is welcome by his father crying: the rumour said that Michel had been killed with all the men of the patrol. After August 16th 1944, the Rencus participated to the liberation of Perigueux then of the rest of Dordogne, in the Franc Corps Roland and Paul-Henri. After the war Michel Rencus made a carrier in the Education Nationale. He managed four educational establishment in France. His wife Liliane and himself are to day grand parents of thirteen grand children! At 81 Michel lives with liliane in Rehovot (Israel), near to their son and family from which was born their first Sabra.