Nationalists, abandon your sick agenda and leave WW2 where it is.

Alexandrine Kántor CEng MIET
5 min readJan 27, 2020

Alexandrine Kántor shares with us the very moving story of her family from the tragic story of the horror of WW2 to the spirit of reconciliation that inspired the creation of the European Union.

Original article wrote on PMP Magazine and updated as I recovered new archives about my grand father, thanks to Alexander Watson.

First published in January 2019.

I am fed up to live in Brexit Britain or Trump World where people are free to shout “Nazi” on air to non-fascist officials, to treat our German neighbours in the most horrendous way (see tweet below), to blame the French for the future Dover chaos (Chris Grayling did). What is going on?

Why don’t you show some respect and stop recalling this part of history for whatever sick agenda, you fascists, have?

Grow up and take some responsibilities for your actions!

This is my story

I, like many Europeans, lost part of my family in Auschwitz. As my Hungarian surname Kántor suggests, I do have Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. I recently discovered that even the President of the European Jewish Congresh was a Kantor (Moshe Kantor).

Family picture of my Grandfather’s Czech maternal family, Neumann, with his mother Bertha, all men gone.

My Grandfather, Tivadar Kántor born in 1918 (in Budapest, Hungary) escaped while part of his family got deported to Auschwitz. His mother, that we all called Anyus (Bertha Neumann in the picture above) stayed in Hungary and hid up to a dozen Jews in her family business’ basement. His father was named Sandor Kántor but I have no information about him, except that Bertha was ruling the house!

French Foreign Legion archive

My Grandfather got engaged in a group of foreign volunteers made up of refugees from Central Europe including many Jews who wanted to take up arms against the Nazis, they were attached to the French Foreign Legion in 1940. They disliked it at first because for them the Foreign Legion was composed of former criminals who tried to erase their past.

My Grandfather in Barcares, 1940.

When the Maréchal Pétain’s troops occupied Lebanon, he was shipped there. He was starving.

He was asked if he wanted to continue being in the French Foreign Legion. He said no and was repatriated to Marseille (France). Once dismissed, he tore up his identity papers in the toilet. During the demobilisation he was asked if he was Jewish, he lied and replied NO despite his friends hearing the answer.

French Foreign Legion archive

With his new ID, he also changed his name from Tivadar Kántor to Théodore Kantor.

(My third name is Théodora, as my other Grandfather is named Tudor, Romanian equivalent of Théodore)

No one in France knew (or know, unsure this has changed) that Kantor is a name heavily Jewish of origin, so my Grandfather felt was quite safe to keep it, without the “á”. He also settled in Alsace for its chemistry engineering school and there, surnames starting with a K are not uncommon.

He was really smart and had to survive because, after the war, the iron wall also blocked communication with his family back in Hungary. He had to do some cleaning jobs to buy food and had no shoes when he met my Grandmother. This is an anecdote she liked to remind us.

When the climate in Europe was a bit more settled, he wanted to come back to Hungary, but his family told him to stay in France as there was no hope in Hungary and there were the communists who would steal everything.

He ended his career being one of the top head of labs for the British fuel retailer Esso, in France.

My Grandfather also had a sense of humour. He once told my Dad that during the war, he had had a one-night adventure with a woman who told him in bed, as pillow talk, that apparently that she could smell when people were Jewish… It seems it didn’t work that well, after all! 😉

My Grandmother

During the war, my Grandmother (Huguette Berger), born in 1927 (in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace, France) was expelled from her home in Alsace, occupied by the Nazi, because she was not German enough.

In her refugee camp in Lyon (France), she heard French citizens complaining that they would have more food without all those refugees.

She later came back to Alsace, where she met my Grandfather.

On my maternal side, I do not know their paster during the WW2 however my Grandmother escaped the Romanian dictatorship of Ceaucescu and immigrated and still resides in Tel Aviv, Israel. My other maternal family (cousins) escaped to Switzerland for the same reasons.

Nationalists like Mark Francois should leave WW2 where it is. There are no good memories for anyone there. The only good thing that came out of the war was the creation of what later became the European Union to make sure this will never happen again.

How amazing it is to have moved past these dark times without forgetting.

And despite all of that happened to my family, I would like to add that I deeply love Germany and my German friends. Stop holding them to account. They were not born at the time.

It is hard to be the children of victims, but I cannot imagine how hard it is to be the children of those who were involved.

Leave them alone & shall we never forget nor let that happen again.

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