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Letter From My Father

By: Becky Seitel
Survivor: Herzel, Max

Even though the punishment would be death, many Gentiles saved Jews during the Holocaust. They were people who decided to make a difference because it was the right thing to do.

Young Max Herzel and his family were aided during and after the war by Mrs. Decoux, a wealthy, Parisian Gentile. When Max’s father, Oscar, could no longer hide in her basement, Mrs. Decoux helped him hide in the forest and brought him food until he was captured while attempting to escape to the Italian zone. During this time, Max was placed in several orphanages and was later hidden in the French Alps. His brother, Harry, joined the French Underground. His mother, who had become seriously ill, was aided by Dr. Pierre Doussinet, a gentile physician.

“My father wrote this letter to Madame Decoux,” Max says of the letter translated below. “It was censored, as you can see by the censorship stamp, but we’ve never been able to determine exactly where he was. He died in Buchenwald approximately three months before the end of the war. He was 44 years old.”

February 19, 1944

Dear Mrs. Decoux,

I am writing you a few words from Italy. I’m able to tell you that I’m in good health. I’m also hoping the same by you and by Mrs. Churbard.

I don’t know exactly where my wife is at the present time, also Harry and Max.

Be kind and transmit this letter. Do not worry about me. I have much hope we will see each other soon. I’m positive that with my friend Mazaloigne and the rest of my friends everything is well.

Wishing everyone well. From a friend who is thinking often of you.