The photos in today’s post were taken this morning in the cemetery of my hometown. Jewish presence in the region dates back to the Middle-Ages as the town is located near the Champagne fairs, which seems logical as numerous Jews were traders at the time. For instance, Moses ben Jacob of Coucy lived in this part of France.
However it is difficult to know exactly how big the community was and if they had a rabbi. We know for certain that such a community existed in the 19th century. They had a synagogue, a rabbi and a Talmud Torah for children. There is a strange photo in our shul which features German Jewish soldiers and officers sitting proudly in front of the town synagogue during the first world war.
The monument on the left was erected after the war in memory of the 102 Jews who were in the town at the time and were deported and exterminated. It has just been renovated and re-inaugurated by the town council, hence the flowers at the bottom of the monument.
I have chosen to focus on one family : the Apels as their story is quite poignant. The parents (and grand-parents?) along with one of the children were deported in 1942, as were most Jews living in France but who did not have French citizenship. The younger children must have been at school or in another place since they were not arrested with the rest of the family. An old lady, who was born here and was hidden in Dordogne during the war, told me that the children were taken care of by the local population although they remained in the family house. Unfortunately they were denounced and deported in July 1944 while the allies had already landed.
Unfortunately very little data remains and only three in the list have been identified and registered on the Yad Vashem Data Base.
Simon Apel was born in St Quentin in 1932. During the war he was deported with Transport 40 from Drancy to Auschwitz on 04/11/1942. Simon perished in the Shoah.
Joseph Apel was born in St Quentin in 1939. During the war he was deported with Transport 77 from Drancy to Auschwitz on 31/07/1944. Joseph perished in the Shoah.
Gisele Apel was born in St Quentin in 1938. During the war she was deported with Transport 77 from Drancy to Auschwitz on 31/07/1944. Gisele perished in the Shoah.
This information is based on a List of deportation from France found in the “Le Mémorial de la deportation des juifs de France”, Beate et Serge Klarsfeld, Paris 1978.
Other people’s blogs obviously mention the Shoah today. SuperRaizy mentions a beautiful story in Today’s New York Times about a Torah scroll that had been buried by the shamash (sexton) of a shul in Auschwitz.
You can find the story of the same Torah scroll, but from a personal point of view, on Cynthia’s blog.
A list of links on Yom HaShoah can be found on Leora’s blog.