It’s amazing how ignorant someone sometimes can be. Although I wasn’t a great of fan of the shows I did watch Hogan’s Heroes and the Bold and the Beautiful on a regular basis,especially the latter one in the period of 1990-1992.
The reason why I mention these 2 shows because it starred Robert Clary. In Hogan’s Heroes he played Corporal Louis LeBeau .
And in 1990-1992 he played a character called Pierre Jourdan, The owner of a restaurant as far as I can recall.
What I didn’t realize is that Robert Clary born Robert Max Widerman did survive the Holocaust.
Born in 1926 in Paris, France, Clary was the youngest of 14 children.At the age of twelve, he began a career singing professionally on French radio and also studied art at the Paris Drawing School. In 1942, because he was Jewish, he was deported to the Nazi concentration camp at Ottmuth, in Upper Silesia (now Poland). He was tattooed with the identification “A5714” on his left forearm. He was later sent to Buchenwald concentration camp.
At Buchenwald, he sang to an audience of SS soldiers every other Sunday, accompanied by an accordionist. He said, “Singing, entertaining, and being in kind of good health at my age, that’s why I survived. I was very immature and young and not really fully realizing what situation I was involved with … I don’t know if I would have survived if I really knew that.”
Writing about his experience, Clary said, “We were not even human beings. When we got to Buchenwald, the SS shoved us into a shower room to spend the night. I had heard the rumors about the dummy shower heads that were gas jets. I thought, ‘This is it.’ But no, it was just a place to sleep. The first eight days there, the Germans kept us without a crumb to eat. We were hanging on to life by pure guts, sleeping on top of each other, every morning waking up to find a new corpse next to you. … The whole experience was a complete nightmare — the way they treated us, what we had to do to survive. We were less than animals. Sometimes I dream about those days. I wake up in a sweat terrified for fear I’m about to be sent away to a concentration camp. But I don’t hold a grudge because that’s a great waste of time. Yes, there’s something dark in the human soul. For the most part human beings are not very nice. That’s why when you find those who are, you cherish them.”
“In October 1944 we got a new SS lieutenant obersturmbahn fuhrer, who upon his arrival made a speech telling us not to despair, not to give up hope, that we were human beings and one of these days we would be free,” Clary writes in the chapter Blechhammer No. A-5714, the identification number tattooed on him by the Nazis.
“We couldn’t believe our ears. We had heard a German officer saying things nobody in his position would dare to say without being shot instantly for treason. It was a remarkable, brave thing for him to do.”
Clary was liberated from Buchenwald on April 11, 1945.
Twelve other members of his immediate family were sent to Auschwitz concentration camp; Clary was the only member of his family to survive the camps.When he returned to Paris after World War II, he learned that three of his 13 siblings had not been taken away and had survived the Nazi occupation of France.
Amazing to think that after that he could still play in a comedy about a concentration camp be it a prisoner of war camp.
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