06 September, 2012

06 September 1945

6 September, 1945
Good morning, dearest –

Well – unfortunately, I didn’t dream of you; I didn’t dream at all for that matter, but I feel like dreaming now – so that will make up for it. I’m almost through with sick-call, although there are still a few drifting in. I have a fairly free day today – no court – but another session tomorrow. Yesterday’s, by the way, was interesting. It involved murder – an open and shut case – and the man got life imprisonment. I don’t like sitting on a court – and on the whole, I’m glad I didn’t study law. To think that one of my votes helped send a man to prison for the rest of his natural life – is a little disconcerting to me – despite the fact that he was irretrievably guilty. I tried my darndest to reason an accidental killing out of the circumstances – but the facts just couldn’t be disproved. Accidental shooting, of course, would have changed the case to one of manslaughter – which carries a much less severe sentence.

Tomorrow night is Rosh Hashanah and we’ll be able to attend services right in town here – and at a Synagogue. Surprisingly – there is one left in Nancy – only partially damaged by the Germans. And there were supposed to have been about 5000 Jewish families here in Nancy before the war. I, personally, have run into no Jews.

But I plan to go to the Services. I remember a year ago, very vividly. We were at the Siegfried line in Germany – Rott, Germany – and our C.P. was in the woods. It had rained steadily for days and the streams were swollen. We had only about 15 Km. to travel to Kornelimünster – where services were being held at VII Corps Hq and it took us all morning. We got stuck in a stream – the Bridge had been blown out – and we had a heluva time getting out. We got to the services when it was just coming to a close and I was disgusted.

Rott to Kornelimünster, Germany

Things are better now, thank the Lord – and next year they’ll be better still. I’ll have you, we’ll be together – in Salem I hope – and we’ll have a lot to be thankful for. I’m going to pray for all that tomorrow, dear.

And now – so long for awhile. Love to the folks – and

All my sincerest love,


about the Synagogue and Jews in Nancy, France

Jewish Synagogue in Nancy, France

The synagogue in Nancy, built in 1788, is located at 17 Boulevard Joffre. Its architect was Charles-Augustin Piroux (1749-1805). It was inaugurated on 11 June 1790. It was enlarged in 1841 and 1861. The present facade, the work of Alfred Thomas, was built in 1935. The facade is larger than the building, adding to its outside appearance.

Old Picture Inside the Jewish Synagogue in Nancy, France

The synagogue was built on swamp land and was reached by a back door, away from traffic areas. Due to urban sprawl, two centuries later the synagogue is in downtown. Next door is a building that houses several Jewish organizations, including the UEJF (Union of Jewish medical students in France).

Old Picture Inside the Jewish Synagogue in Nancy, France

This synagogue is the second oldest synagogue still in service in France. On 11 July 1984, this synagogue was decreed and registered as an historical monument. Sometime in 2007-2008 it was surrounded by a fence of metal sheets, bars and grilles, at least 3 meters high, for reasons of security. The only French synagogue a bit older, in Luneville, was planned by the same architect and consecrated in 1786.

There has been a Jewish community in Nancy since the Middle Ages. In 1286 the Jews acquired a cemetery at nearby Laxou. In 1341, and later in 1455, several Jews settled in Nancy itself but were expelled from the Duchy in 1477. The Jews temporarily reappeared in Nancy in 1595. In 1707 and 1712 Duke Leopold authorized three Jewish bankers from Metz to settle in Nancy. In 1721 an edict authorized 70 Jewish families to remain in Lorraine, eight of them in Nancy and its surroundings. As mentioned, the synagogue was built in 1788. The 90 Jewish families in Nancy in 1789 (50 of whom were without authorization) included wealthy merchants and manufacturers. With the influx of refugees from Alsace and Moselle after 1870, the number of Jews in Nancy increased to some 4,000 by the end of the century. The Jewish people created emerging industries (spinning, weaving, shoe factories, embroidery, blast furnaces) in Nancy, and founded the department store on Rue Saint-Jean. The Jewish neighborhood was located near the synagogue at the site of the existing mall in San Sebastian.

Many of Nancy's pre-war Jewish population (about 3,800 in 1939) fled the city under the German occupation. Those who stayed were brutally persecuted. The Germans entered Nancy on 18 June 1940. On 22 June, an armistice was signed dividing France into zones. Nancy was then integrated into a reserved area dedicated to German living space. On 16-17 July of 1942, as part of "Operation Spring Wind", more than 13,000 Jewish men, women and children had been rounded up in Paris for deportation to death camps. The Germans had decided to purge northern France of Jews, and the first to be deported were those who were foreign or stateless, having fled from Poland, Lithuania, Romania, and Hungary.

A similar roundup of Jews was planned for Nancy after the great roundup in Paris. The "foreign section" of the Nancy police station learned about the impending roundup, when Vigneron was told that he and his staff had to round up all alien Jews in the town on 19 July at dawn. On 18 July, he summoned his deputy and another five policemen under his command and ordered them to forewarn all 400 Jews scheduled for deportation the next day. The policemen went from house to house; those few alien Jews who did not take the warning seriously were arrested and deported, never to return. On the morning of 19 July, nearly 350 Jews were not at home and thus survived. Vigneron saved many families with forged identity cards bearing an authentic French stamp without the added word “Jew,” with which they could reach the Unoccupied "Free" Zone.

The failure of the roundup in Nancy aroused suspicion that Vigneron had tipped off the Jewish community. He was arrested on 19 August 1942, exactly one month after the roundup, and was imprisoned in Nancy for three months. About six months later, he was arrested again, this time on charges of having issued forged papers to a French spy. Again he was imprisoned for three months, this time in Paris. After the war, Vigneron returned to the police force and his name was cleared. In 1951, the French government awarded him the citation of the Legion of Honor. “His” Jews, who returned after the war to Nancy, did not forget him, and he remained a friend and a guest of honor at all festivities of the next generation, who had not experienced the occupation. On 3 May 1982, Edward Vigneron, his assistant Pierre Marie, and three fellow officers received the Medal of Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem, the world center for documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust.

In spite of their efforts, a total of 130 Jews of foreign origin were arrested and deported between 1942 and 1943, while over 400 others who had fled to the "free" zone in the south were arrested and deported after it was overrun by the Germans. Only 22 survivors returned. Among the old French Jewish families, 250 victims were deported, of whom only two survived. The majority were arrested on 2 March 1944, along with 72-year-old Chief Rabbi Haguenauer, who despite his being forewarned, refused to desert the members of his community. A street in post-war Nancy bears his name.

The synagogue, as well as other buildings belonging to the Jews, were plundered by the Nazis. The synagogue interior was destroyed, while the holy books were sold to a rag collector. Several of the art works and books in the local Musée Historique Lorrain and departmental archives were saved. After the war, the Jewish community of Nancy rapidly recovered. By 1969 it had about 3,000 members with a full range of Jewish communal institutions. Today, the Jewish community in Nancy is said to number 4,000 - about the same number living in Nancy in 1900.

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