Baroukh Bentitou

Born May 27, 1931 - Palikao, Algeria

Baroukh was one of eight children born to the Bentitou family of Palikao, Algeria. On the eve of World War II, the Jewish population of Algeria numbered approximately 120,000. But Algeria was a very poor land. Seeking a better life for his children, Baroukh's father moved the family to the port city of Marseilles in southern France.

Life was disrupted when the Germans invaded France in May 1940. While the Germans occupied all of northern France, they allowed French collaborators to control most of the south, where Baroukh lived. French authorities in the southern area were directly responsible to the Germans and assisted them in persecuting Jews.

On January 23, 1943, Baroukh's father and two older brothers were arrested in Marseilles. They were later deported to the Sobibor death camp where they perished in the gas chamber. Eleven year-old Baroukh went to live at the children's home in Izieu.

Given the circumstances, life at the children's home was comparatively peaceful. Outings arranged by the sympathetic staff helped the children forget, if only briefly, the terror that raged around them. This came to an abrupt end, however, in April 1944, when the Nazis decided that Baroukh and the other Jewish children in the home had lived long enough.

On April 6, 1944, Baroukh and most of his friends were sent to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. The officer responsible for the arrest and deportation of the children was Klaus Barbie. In a scandal that shook the world, it was discovered that Barbie had escaped punishment after the war by working as a spy for the American government. Barbie, who was then living in South America under an assumed name, was eventually sent back to France for trial, where, on July 4, 1987, he was found guilty of "crimes against humanity" and sentenced to life in prison. Baroukh, however, did not live to see Barbie punished. He perished in the gas chambers of Auschwitz just after his thirteenth birthday.

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