Witnesses to History Keepers of Memory
Witnesses to History Keepers of Memory
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Marguerite Élias Quddus

Papa’s glasses

“These are Dad’s glasses, I can see them there, in his student photo. I don’t know if he took his glasses, I don’t know if these were the only ones he had, but they’re all I have left.” This is how Marguerite Élias Quddus describes the glasses pictured below. Marguerite's father was arrested at home in Paris (France) one morning in August 1941. That was the last time Marguerite saw her beloved father. Transported to the Drancy transit camp (France) a few months later, her father was on the first French convoy to Auschwitz (occupied Poland). He never returned.

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These are Dad’s glasses, I see him, I see him here in his student photo. It was his glasses, I can
tell you they aren’t nice behind the ears, I tried them on. And besides, there’s one that’s a little
broken, I don’t know why. But it must have been broken after. I don’t know if he brought
glasses, I don’t know if those were the only ones he had, but anyway, that’s all I have left. It’s
not much.

Where were they kept during the war? Well, everything that was kept like that was at Madame
Grazianni’s or Madame Moireau’s. Madame Moireau, she got the cutlery, no, she got the
frames. Because behind the frames, since her husband was a lawyer, she said to herself, we are
not going to touch these people, she was a client too. So, she was able to put all the papers in
this one and in the other, it was back there that she put the papers like the paper from the
What store? Our fur store. Because Dad, he came to France to study law, but after two years he
had to sleep under the bridges of Paris because he couldn’t pay anymore. His parents could no
longer send him money. And so there he met a Russian friend, Alexandrovich, who was a furrier,
so he was selling fur pelts, and then it seems he said to Dad, “What are you doing here? With
your law, what do you think you’re going to do with your law? Look, I am a furrier, I also have
diplomas, I am a furrier, I sell fur pelts,” and he says, “Right next door to where you live, there is
a workshop where they train master-furrier artisans, it takes six months and you will make
money!” So, Dad listened to his advice, and first he worked for others, and when he worked for
others, he brought Mom from Lithuania, his fiancée. Then he brought his sister, he brought his
brother. And then he began earning, he earned a good living as a furrier, it was quite a job. Dad
was a gentleman. We started talking about war after he volunteered as you see in the picture
here. He decided to transfer the store to Mom’s name. I found out that our landlord had an
electric motor factory in the yard. He wrote to Dad that: “If you do not pay your rent”, that is to
say for the business, the workshop and the apartment which was above the bistro and the shop,
“If you do not pay not, I will denounce you.” He hated Dad, because Dad had defended all the
tenants, he wrote their letters against him. So, he didn’t miss an opportunity for revenge.

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A passport to freedom