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Holocaust survivor to share her story at library

November 6, 2018
By MEGHAN BRADBURY (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The Lehigh Acres community has the opportunity to hear the story of a Holocaust survivor this month at East County Regional Library.

Renee Beddouk, who was born on Feb. 24, 1934 in Paris, will share her story and experience as a young girl living through the Holocaust.

The program will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17.

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Holocaust survivor Renee Beddouk.

PHOTO PROVIDED

"I think it needs to be told," she said. "I am 84 and a half years old. There are so many Holocaust deniers There is definite proof because the Nazis are so proud of what they were doing. There are accurate records."

Beddouk said it is important to share her story to the young people in school.

"I tell them that they have to remember that they saw somebody that went through a traumatic experience at a young age," she said.

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Her talks highlight the word tolerance, that they have to listen to one another and be tolerate of every religion.

"If they don't like the person they can walk away. They don't have to argue, or get into violence," Beddouk said.

Those who attend "Holocaust Remembrance: The Tale of a Survivor" will have the opportunity to view three poster boards that share Beddouk's life story. The boards include a wedding photograph of her parents, the only photograph she has of them together. Another photo includes her maternal grandparents with their six children.

"I never knew my maternal grandfather and my oldest aunt is the one who brought the whole family to France," Beddouk said.

The last picture is of Beddouk with a family she lived with during the war.

Her father was born in Poland and was a self-employed tailor, and her mother was a salesgirl born in Russia.

"How they met, I don't know," she said, adding that they both became French citizens.

The family lived in a predominately Jewish neighborhood in Arrondissement, a community in the center of Paris. Beddouk said at the time, her grandmother lived with them.

Beddouk and her parents left Paris in the early part of 1942 and traveled to Clermont Ferrand, what was considered a free zone within France. She said her grandmother decided she was too old to travel and stayed behind.

A year after they left, her grandmother, at the age of 73, was arrested by the French police and sent to Drancy, one of the most infamous transit camps in France.

To ensure the safety of Beddouk, she was sent to live with a family on a farm with six children.

"They took care of me as if I was their seventh child," she said. "You take a little girl from two big cities and put on a farm with animals . . . take care of a baby goat, feed chickens . . . I was not unhappy at all because I was exactly like everyone else in the family. I missed my parents. I stayed with them for about three and a half years until after the war."

While there, Beddouk remembered knitting wool socks with a little bit of straw at the toe. She also recalls wearing wooden shoes that she walked in to school.

"On Sundays we went to church. I remember I miss my parents, but I knew I had seen my mother, but didn't know how she came," she recalls, adding that she later learned she arrived by bike.

While living with the family, Beddouk's parents remained in Clermont Ferrand, which was taken over by the Nazis. She later learned that her parents had been taken by the French police and sent to the Drancy transit camp and later sent to Auschwitz where they died.

"I'm called a survivor. That took me a long time to get used to. To me survival means you survived the camp . . . your whole life was turned upside down, so therefore you are a survivor. I accept it (survivor) more than I did," Beddouk said.

To hear more of her story, stop by the East County Regional Library at 881 Gunnery Road. For more information, call (239) 533-4200.

 
 

 

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