Until the German invasion of Belgium in 1940, when he was 4, he had “a normal childhood,” David Tamir, a Holocaust survivor, says. He and his parents, Ephraim and Tova Tamir, were living in Antwerp when they joined a mass flight to France, only to discover British soldiers were evacuating from Dunkirk, France. They, along with thousands of other refugees, were made to turn back when German troops moved in. Two years later, when he was 6, the Germans began “rounding up Jews from the streets (of Antwerp),” Tamir says. Out of concern for their son’s safety, his parents contacted an elderly couple, Roman Catholics who lived on a farm in the small village of Petegem. The coupleagreed to take in David for money, and pass him off as part of their family. David, who was being raised in a traditional Jewish family, was sent to live with them. He was surrounded by fields and animals, a change from the city, and attended the village school. It was not unusual for children to be sent to live in rural villages during the war, he says, because the Allies were dropping bombs on urban areas, and food was scarce in the cities. His parents, too, were forced into hiding to avoid being arrested and deported to the camps created and run by the Nazis. No one knew about Hitler’s Final Solution then, Tamir says, but people knew something bad was happening because those who were caught never came back. They just disappeared.In January 1949, David Tamir and his parents immigrated to Israel. He grew up and was educated there, and served in the army. After marrying an American, he moved to the States, where he lived for more than 40 years. He moved back to Israel — “It is my home” — in 2005 after retiring and now lives in Ein Hod, an artists’ community in the Carmel foothills.(read more...)
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