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Noach's parents, Fania and Motel Szejniuk, left Poland before he was born to make a better life for themselves in the more liberal atmosphere of France. Jews in France were treated with equality and were well-integrated into the society. The Szejniuks settled in Paris, a sophisticated city, where the large Jewish population lived in harmony with their non-Jewish neighbors. Noach's father worked in a soda factory.
Noach was a seven year-old schoolboy when the Germans invaded France in June 1940. The Nazis immediately enacted harsh antisemitic measures, barring Jews from most professions and from public schools. Many Jews became impoverished. Foreign-born Jews were deported to concentration camps in May 1941. In June 1942, the Jews of France were forced to wear the yellow star. Soon after, the Nazis arrested almost 13,000 Jews living in Paris and sent them to the nearby Drancy concentration camp. Noach's desperate parents found him a home with sympathetic Christians, who were willing to risk their lives in order to hide him.
Arrests and deportations of Jews to various concentration camps in France continued. If they managed to survive the horrendous conditions in those camps, they were sent on to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. Noach's mother and father were arrested and sent to concentration camps. His mother was sent to a camp near the Spanish border. Somehow she managed to escape and make her way over a treacherous route through the Pyrenees mountains to refuge in Barcelona, Spain.
Noach's father also managed to escape from the concentration camp where he had been interned. He returned to Paris, where he hid in constant fear for his life. On March 21, 1943, he was discovered hiding in a barn by the Nazis, and he was shot.
In August 1944, Paris was liberated by Allied troops. Noach's mother managed to make her way back through war-torn Europe to Paris in order to be reunited with her ten year-old son.