I don't know a lot of things about Lucien Natanson, a cousin of my father. He was born in Bucharest, Romania, on April 5th, 1921. His father, Julien Natanson (Yankel, in accordance with his birth certificate) had a stationer's shop, in Paris, "passage du Panorama" (1st district). His mother was named Jeanne Schwartz. They lived at the number 8, "rue Censier" in Paris. Julien was the brother of Aron Natanson, my grand-father, and of Albert Natanson.
I haven't any photo of them. I only managed to reconstruct their tragic end, from different sources (Hilda Natanson, the Archives of town hall of Bourg-d'Oisans, the account of Michel Martin)
Part of my family took refuge in Grenoble, in the Italian occupation zone, which was a more safe area for Jews than the German occupation zone, and even than the unoccupied zone where Pétain arrested and handed the Jews over to Nazis. But Germans invaded the Italian occupation zone in
September, 1943, following the signature of an armistice between Italy and the Allies.
Grenoble was not safe anymore. So, Albert Natanson and his wife Hilda, as well as Julien Natanson and his wife Jeanne, took refuge in Bourg d'Oisans.
Mountain above Bourg-d'Oisans (Photo Elisabeth Mosbah)
Julien and Jeanne lived in a hamlet called La Paute, one mile and a half from the town, towards Grenoble. Albert and Hilda were a few miles away. Lucien Natanson lived with his parents, but his young age (he was 23) made him take to the maquis : he was a Jew and a S.T.O. dodger (S.T.O. was forced labour by French young workers requisitioned to work in Germany). With other young men, he probably hid in the wooded area and mountains which overlooked the valley of Romanche. Did they have
weapons ?Did they take part in real military actions of the Resistance ?They mainly hid themselves, because of the great superiority of the Nazi army and of their insufficient equipment.
On the beginning of August, 1944, the few German soldiers who were occupying Bourg-d'Oisans, went away. The euphoria of the Liberation overwhelmed
everyone !The young men who were hiding in the mountains, went down in the valley and met up with their family.
It ended tragically. A military column (perhaps S.S. ?) advanced with difficulties, from Briançon to Grenoble. They were harassed by the Resistance and they brought death throughout their going down :
2 : The taking of the whole men's population hostage, in the village called Villar-d'Arêne (August 11 th, 1944)
3 : 6 hostages and one German soldier died when a mine, laid by the Resistance, blew up inside a tunnel, near La Grave. Death of Michel Martin's father.
4 : Execution of Jews, resistants and hostages in Bourg-d'Oisans (June 14th and 15th, 1944). Death of Lucien Natanson.
5 : Place where the corpse of Julien Natanson was found.
6 : Execution of an Indo-Chinese man (August 16th, 1944)
I had an opportunity to meet Michel Martin, then librarian of the public library in Soissons, the town where I live.(My wife succeed him to this responsability). He told me a part of the bloody path of this German column : on August 10th or 11th, 1944, when going over the Lautaret Pass, the Nazis shot some resistants. On August 11th, they took hostage the whole men's population of a little village called Villar d'Arêne, very near from the Lautaret Pass. Michel Martin's father, a professor, native of this village, was among them. Nazis used hostages as a human shield to protect their going down to the Romanche's Valley and Bourg-d'Oisans. A few miles farther, the Resistance had mined the tunnel : 6 hostages and a German soldier died when the mine blew up, on August 11th, 1944. Michel Martin's father was among them.
The descent of the Germans continued : they dreadfully retaliated against civilians they met. Executions were not quite decided at random : documents can show us that they were often olders Jews or young men dressed in military clothes which were a proof to their having being maquis fighters.
On August 14th, 1944, in La Paute, near Bourg-d'Oisans, Germans arrested Lucien Natanson. Was he identified as a Jew ? Was he denounced by his walking boots as a maquis
Lucien Natanson was shot in La Paute, hamlet of Bourg-d'Oisans, on August 14th, 1944, around 21 o'clock.
He was quickly buried. Then the authorities exhumed him for identification. The "Judge of the Peace" of Bourg-d'Oisans wrote an official report about it. This report show us that five other inhabitants of Bourg-d'Oisans, of whom 4 at least were Jewish, were executed the following morning, August 15th, 1944, before the German column set off again towards Grenoble.
In La Paute, in the place which was shown to us, we had the corpse of the following person exhume :
Erwin Lucien NAUM-NATANSON, born in Bucharest (Romania), on April 5th, 1921, merchant, son of Julien and Jeanne SCHWARTZ, husband of Jeanine Hélène PROVOST, living in La Paute, killed in La Paute, on August 14th, 1944, around 21 o'clock.
At the mas [type of house found in southeast France] of Zilas, five corpses, three of them were submerged in the Rive River, were reported to us as being found, the aboved-named doctors proceeded to their medical examination.
From the information collected, we can more or less establish their identity as follows :
I° Bernard BRANSILBER, born in DARMSTADT (Germany) on April 12th, 1900, chemist, son of Hensh and Regina SCHONBERG, husband of Sarah KANNER, living in Le Vert, commune of Bourg-d'Oisans, killed in Les Zilas, on August 15th, 1944, around 8 o'clock.
2° Stefan MARTICHEWSKI, born in CIELTZ (Poland) on September 4th, 1892, worker, husband of Anne Marie SAMSON, living in Bourg-d'Oisans, rue Général Bataille, killed in Les Zilas, on August 15th, 1944, around 8 o'clock.
3° Marian Stanislas MOSCINSKI, born in LWOW (Poland) on August 8th, 1916, student, son of Stanislas and Sofia WOLOSZ, husband of Félicienne Eugénie GENEVOIS, living in Bourg-d'Oisans, Avenue de la Gare, killed in Les Zilas, on August 15th, 1944, around 8 o'clock.
4° Adam Jean Seliwa KOPYTINSKI, born in à NAPOLI (Italy) on December 16th, 1904, engineer, son of Thadée and Hélène KOSTIVAN, living in Bourg-d'Oisans, rue Docteur Daday, killed in Les Zilas, on August 15th, 1944, around 8 o'clock.
5° Maurice UNGER, born in MORAWSKA-OSTRAVA (Czecho-slovakia) on June 29th, 1911, window dresser, son of Hermann UNGER and Bertha MANGER, living in Bourg-d'Oisans, in Le Vert, killed in Les Zilas, on August 15th, 1944, around 8 o'clock.
Besides, on August 16th, 1944, in the morning, we had the corpse of a quite young unknown person exhumed, in the public garden of Bourg-d'Oisans, behind the community hall. There, two enclosed photographs (full-face and profile). He wore the following clothes : military khaki plus fours, khaki shirt, pair of military underpants, shorts, military shoes, short socks. The mayor handed two other photos over to captain BRIANCON, of the 2ème Bureau [intelligence service], Grenoble.
we enclosed the first medical reports of Doctors FAURE et
SCHLUMBERGER. Report written and closed on August 25th, 1944.
WOELFFLIN, Judge of the
: The identity of Marian
Stanislas MOSCINSKY was false. In fact, he was named Stanislas HALKA
and was the son of Alexandre Stanislas HALKA and Sofia WOLOSG. He was
an officer cadet in the 4th Battalion of the Polish Brigade of the
Northern Chasseurs, roll number 241.
The tragedy didn't stop there.
Lucien Natanson's parents, Julien et Jeanne, had been witnesses to his execution. The father, Julien Natanson, couldn't stand the death of his only son.
Julien Natanson drowned himself in the Romanche, on August 15th, 1944.
His body was found in the Romanche between Livet and Rioupéroux, in the territory of Livet-et-Gavet, down-river from Bourg-d'Oisans. The body was buried at the place called Les Clavaux. This gave rise to a new official report : the list of the many victims of this summer 1944. It should be noted that the fist name "Naum" was, by mistake, systematically added to the name "Natanson".
Shot by Germans, on August 14th, 1944, around 9 o'clock, at the place called "l'Adret".
111) NATANSON-NAUM Julien, merchant, born in Ploiesti (Romania) on October 30th, 1892, son of Joseph NATANSON-NAUM and Anna RAPPAPORT, husband of Jeanne SCHWARTZ, domiciled in La Paute, in the commune of Bourg-d'Oisans.
Suicide on August 15th, 1944, following the exécution of his son Erwin by Germans : drowned himself in the Romanche, found between Livet and Rioupéroux.
112) Unknown person whose description is : (Number I of the List of Gavet) : Height I M 70. Short-sleeved khaki shirt. Navy blue woollen trousers without "brayettes" closed on the side. Grey cotton socks. Yellow low shoes with rubber sole. White pair of underpants. White handkerchief without initials.
Shot by Germans on August 17th, 1944, around 16 o'clock, at the place called "Fonfroide".
113) PARDE Emile Maurice, cadet at the Navy health school, born in Beaumont-de-Pertuis (Vaucluse) on September 12th, son of Maurice PARDE, profesor of the Arts Faculty of Grenoble, and Jeanne ALAMELLE, unmarried, domiciled in Grenoble (Isère), 6 rue Lesdiguières. Nom de guerre : Medecal Second Lieutenant "André".
Shot by Germans on August 13th, 1944, around 12 o'clock, at the place called "Poursollet".
114) MERLIN Louis Joseph Auguste, farmer, born in Saint-Victor-de-Cassieu (Isère) on March 21th, 1914, son of Henri MERLIN and Adèle BONNAZ, unmarried, domiciled in Saint-Victor-de-Cassieu.
Shot by Germans on August 17th, 1944, around 16 o'clock, at the place called "Fonfroide".
115) ROURE Marcel Victor, worker in "la Viscose", born in Grenoble (Isère) on March 7th, 1911, son of Jean-Baptiste ROURE and Rosine MEUNIER, widower of Claire Céleste Valentine BOUILLET, husband of Mathilde Hippolyte Denise ELIE, domiciled in Echirolles (Isère).
Shot by Germans on August 19th, 1944, around 11 o'clock, at the place called "Fonfroide".
116) MATHIEU Léonard René Georges, farmer, born in Séchilienne (Isère) on October 9th, 1920, son of Séverin MATHIEU and Marie-Louise PLATEL, unmarried, domiciled in Séchilienne (Isère).
Shot by Germans on August 14th, 1944, around 8 o'clock, at the place called 'Gavet's Bridge"
The arrows show the itinerary of the Nazi army when they retraited, coming from Briançon by the Lautaret Pass (A), going to Grenoble (B) and bringing death all along the route.
Jeanne Schwartz, Lucien's mother and Julien's wife, had thus lost the two people she loved the most. She was taken back to Paris by her sister-in-law, Hilda Natanson. She tried unsuccesfully to commit suicide a first time with barbiturics. Her apartment of 8 rue Censier had been salvaged. She settled in it, but she gave her familly the slip. One morning, 1945, the caretaker woman of her building came and broke the new tragedy to Hilda and Albert Natanson :
Jeanne Schwartz commited suicide, by gas, in 1945, in Paris.
Translation by Dominique Natanson with a great help from Déborah
Text revised by Stan Rosenthal (Australia) Thanks