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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

La Conscience des Francais - book authored by Rene Duschler

Like a detective, I often search  back through my old Genealogical email correspondence for clues I may have missed.  I also repeat prior google searches to see if something new is posted about a specific person.

Last week I googled "Rene Duschler" as I have many times before.  But this time,  I had an exact match on his name,  a book he authored was listed for sale:  "La conscience des Fran├žais".  Although it was published in 1987, this was the first time I noticed it in my search results.  I immediately placed my order.


I believe the author, Rene Duschler, was my dad's best friend and neighbor growing up in Paris. In 1939 Rene was a year older than my dad and Rene was enlisted in the French army.  Rene was captured by the Germans and somehow escaped. When Rene returned home to his apartment in Paris, his dad was concerned that the Germans would come looking for him.  My dad's family hid Rene in their apartment for several weeks.  My dad described this unique scenario of his family as "Jews hiding a Gentile".  

In June 1942  my dad and his family were forced to wear the  yellow star of David that identified them as  "Juif" Jewish.   My dad described the panic in the Jewish community, the pandemonium.  Jews became hunted animals, desperate for an escape route.  

Rene Duschler's dad was a peddlar with many connections.  When the time came, Mr. Duschler provided the name and address of a "cheminot", a railroad worker in Vierzon.  The railroad station in Vierzon was one of the largest in France, strategically located on the boundary between zones.  At the time France was divided into a Northern Nazi-occupied zone and a Southern free zone.

This Cheminot became my family's courageous savior.  He smuggled members of my family, and other desperate Jews, onto railroad cars headed south, all while German soldiers patrolled the area.  My dad could not recall this cheminot's name, but often talked about him.  He was eventually captured by the Germans and killed.    

When I came across Rene Duschler's book on Amazon, I felt that this book could provide  answers and details from my dad's story. Who was this cheminot? What was his full name? Wouldn't it be something extraordinary if Rene mentioned my dad in his book?  I am trying not to hold impossible expectations as I anticipate the precious content that this book may hold.