One of the Few Remaining Childhood Holocaust Survivors

words expressing the important of childhood holocaust survivors

René Lichtman is an activist and artist, currently of Metro Detroit. He is one of the few remaining childhood holocaust survivors. It has literally been a lifetime since Jewish children were hidden away during WWII France.

Survivor benefactors, and Community heroes

Childhood holocaust survivors are a grand and poignant human-interest story. However, the survivors play a less a critical role than the actual protectors in those French communities. That’s the way Rene looks at it; the protectors are the heroes.

The people who were there and their descendants continue to bring forward, organize, and preserve the memory. This effort includes the story around Mr. Lichtman. So, he is also a bit of a historian now-a-days.

Lichtman benefits from the French people’s bravery and humanity in at least two important regards. They afforded him protection during his childhood in the Nazi controlled town of Villepinte. And they are continuing the remarkable story and keeping it alive through continued sharing and provision of need-to-know information. A great humanitarian exchange is underway.

VillePinte, Tremblay, and Vert Gallant

In addition to Villepinte, the involved community (in the Lichtman context) includes the village of Tremblay and Vert Gallant (train station and neighborhood). The setting is northeast of Paris, and represents points within the especial Ceinture Rouge (“Red Belt“). Israel’s Yad Vashem facilitates the broad historical endeavor.

map showing Villepinte and community, where childhood holocaust survivirs were hidden

Germany’s occupation of Paris from 1940 to 1944 is a world-renowned story. The prominent figures and activities of the period are documented. The narrative has largely been along the lines of collaborators and resistors. Current research, and Lichtman’s contribution, includes how this treacherous dichotomy trickled down into the communities and the daily lives of common people. Understandably, important details and stories are still unfolding.

René Lichtman’s current interests and research

Lichtman has personal interests and a need-to-know as regards the period. Indeed, the time is a prime part his own colorful biography. Now, he is quick to acknowledge VillePinte and surrounding community, and to delve into the conditions which motivated and allowed the amazing rescue.

The Battle of France, particularly June 12th, 13th, and 14th of 1940, is now a focal point and target of René Lichtman’s research. Rene’s father, Jacob, was a combatant serving in the French Foreign Legion. He suffered a back wound on the 12th, according to Red Cross records. Jacob struggled to keep up with the retreating line. Currently, René, with help from others, is trying to determine the final details of his father’s demise. Records exist regarding a flurry of action over the next two fateful days. On the 14th, Germans randomly took and executed fifteen people; these were possibly the first French civilian casualties. All of this was in Rene’s immediate childhood community.

As surely as people pass away, the effort to preserve and fortify the memories, to share the full important truth, will go on. Documentation and follow-up events in Villepinte are expected.