Jules BRAUNSCHWEIG, 1889 – 1976
Jules Braunschweig’s birth record, since we do not have a photo of him. Source: Victims of Contemporary Conflicts Archives Division of the Ministry of Defense Historical Service, in Caen.
Biography written by Sigrid Gaumel, Associate Professor of Geography
Jules’ childhood in Mulhouse during the German occupation (1889 – 1891?)
Julius (Jules) Braunschweig, also known as Brunschwig, was born on November 7, 1889 at 19 Gerechtigkeitsgasse (now rue de la Justice), in Mülhausen (Mulhouse, in the Haut-Rhin department of France). His parents were Salomon Braunschweig, born September 18, 1862 at 4 impasse de l’horloge in Mulhouse, and Berthe Marthe Braunschweig, née Blum, born July 26, 1861 in Seibersbach (in the Rhénanie-Palatinat region of Germany). Salomon Braunschweig worked as a dairyman.
Jules had two older brothers: Elias Braunschweig, born April 6, 1887 at 4 Mussbrunnengasse (currently rue des Bons Enfants) in Mulhouse, and Heinrich (Henri) Braunschweig, born on July 6, 1888 at 19 Gerechtigkeitsgasse (rue de la Justice) in Mulhouse and died on June 20, 1889 in Mulhouse, at 11 months of age. Their younger sister, Johanna (Jeanne) Braunschweig, was born on November 11, 1890, also in Mulhouse.
Jules’ paternal grandparents were Raphaël Braunschweig, an upholsterer by trade, born around 1818 in Mulhouse and Jeanne Braunschweig, née Kahn or Cahen, born around 1828.
According to the treaty of Frankfurt, signed on May 10, 1871, the Alsace-Moselle region of France was annexed by Germany, and was from then on part of the Reichsland Elsass-Lothringen region. Mulhouse was thus in Germany. Salomon Braunschweig, his wife Berthe and their children lived, as from November 16, 1886 at what is now 4 rue des Bons enfants (then Mussbrunnengasse) in Mulhouse, then as from August 19, 1887 at what is now 9 rue des Orphelins (Waisengasse) in Mulhouse, and finally, as from December 8, 1889 to April 8, 1891 at what is now 19 rue de la Justice (Gerechtigkeitsgasse)in Mulhouse. These streets were all in the old town center of Mulhouse. The family probably left Mulhouse in April 1891. Jules’ paternal grandfather, Raphaël Braunschweig, died in 1902 and was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Mulhouse.
The Braunschweig family moved to Paris, (1891? – 1914)
Sometime before 1910, Salomon Braunschweig, his wife Berthe and their three children, Elias, Jules and Jeanne, settled in Paris.
In 1910, at the age of 20, Jules did his military service in the French army. The description of him mentions that he had an oval face, brown hair and eyebrows, brown eyes, an “ordinary” forehead, an “average” nose and an “average” mouth. Jules was drafted into the 82nd Infantry Regiment on October 4, 1910 and joined as a 2nd class soldier. He was transferred to the 5th nurse section in Paris, by order of the General and the 5th Corps, on December 8 .
Jules was transferred to the 21st section of military nurses in Constantine, in Algeria, on April 28, 1911. He was incorporated on April 29, 1911 and arrived on May 1, 1911. He was then promoted to corporal on October 15, 1911. Jules was sent on leave on September 28, 1912, pending his transfer to the active army reserve on October 1, 1912. He was awarded a certificate of good conduct. He then moved to 95, rue des Boulets in the in the 11th district of Paris. After his military service, he was assigned, as a reservist, to the 22nd section of military nurses, which was stationed in Paris.
Jules was called up during the First World War (1914-1918)
On the eve of the First World War, Jules Braunschweig, aged 24, was recalled to active duty according to the French general mobilization decree of August 1, 1914, for the duration of the war. He arrived on August 3, 1914 and was assigned to the 24th section of military nurses.
Jules was assigned to the auxiliary service as a result of a decision made by the Military Governor of Paris on April 11, 1915, following the opinion of the Reform Commission of Versailles on March 22, 1915, due to “palpitations without lesions”. He was kept on auxiliary service by the Special Reform Commission of Versailles on September 18, 1915 (according to a law dated August 17, 1915).
Jules, at the age of 26, was discharged n°2 on August 20, 1917 by the Reform Commission of Versailles for “suspicious apexes [of the lungs], induration of the apex of the right lung. Poor general condition. Marked emaciation” . Induration of the apex is consistent with pulmonary fibrosis (sclerosis of the pulmonary tissue located at the apex of a lung). This condition can have several causes (bacterial, viral, tuberculosis for example) and develops into chronic respiratory insufficiency. Jules, no longer able to participate in active service due to his health, left for his parents’ home at 95 rue des Boulets in the 11th district of Paris. . He received a War Wounded medal for his part in the 1914-1918 campaign.
Jules married and settled in Paris (1918 – late 1930s)
In 1918, Jules’ parents, Salomon and Berthe Braunschweig, were working as traders in Paris .
At the age of 28, Jules married Delphine Jeanne Meyer on April 25, 1918 in the 2nd district of Paris. Delphine Jeanne was born on May 29, 1891 at 10, rue des Jeûneurs in the 2nd district. Her parents were David Meyer and Céline Meyer, née Moyse. Jeanne, who did not work, lived with her parents and her brother Abraham Georges at 117, rue Réaumur in the 2nd district. A marriage contract was drawn up on April 24, 1918 by Maître Morel d’Arleux, a notary in Paris. David Meyer, born October 29, 1862 at 6, rue de Berry in the 8th district, and Céline Meyer, née Moyse, born on June 2, 1864 at Les Etangs, in the Moselle department, both embroidery manufacturers, were married on July 31, 1890 in the 2nd district. Jeanne’s younger brother, Abraham Georges Meyer, was born on September 23, 1892, 10, rue des Jeûneurs in the 2nd district..
Jules and Delphine Braunschweig moved to 215 bis boulevard Voltaire in the Sainte-Marguerite quarter in the 11th district of Paris, probably in 1919. They were still living at this address in 1921 and in 1926. It seems, however, that they were no longer living there by 1931. Jules was a bicycle dealer. In 1936, Jules, who was then 47 and Delphine Braunschweig, who was 45, seem to have been living at 1, rue Ariste Hémard in Montreuil-sous-Bois, in the Seine-Saint-Denis department on the outskirts of Paris. In 1937, this address was confirmed and Delphine’s mother, Céline Meyer, a widow and owner of a bicycle accessory store, was living with them.
Delphine’s brother, Georges Meyer, a trader, living with his parents at 117, rue Réaumur in the 2nd district of Paris, married Marie Strauss, who did not go out to work, on January 20, 1921 in the 11th district. Jules Braunschweig was one of the witnesses at their wedding. Marie Strauss, who had been living with her parents at 35 bis, rue Saint-Sabin in the 11th district, was born on November 28, 1894 in Charmes, in the Vosges department. Her parents were Simon Strauss, a trader, and Pauline Strauss née Samuel, who did not work outside the home. Georges and Marie’s marriage was dissolved by a divorce judgment delivered on March 19, 1928 by the Seine department Civil Court .
Georges Meyer, 38, a messenger service manager, who was living at 40, rue Poussin in the 16th district, was remarried to Marguerite Léontine Bourgery, 31, a secretary, on April 28, 1931 . Marguerite, of 70, rue Didot in the 14th district, was born on August 23, 1899 in Mohon in the Ardennes department. Her parents were Jean-Baptiste Justin Bourgery, deceased, and Marie Hortense Dewelle, who did not work and who was living at 13, avenue de Mézières in Mohon.
The start of the war (1939) and the escape to the “free” zone
On September 1, 1939, the German army invaded Poland. On September 3, France and England declared war on Germany. On May 10, 1940, following the “phony war”, the Germans went on the offensive and invaded the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, bypassing the Maginot Line.
The armistice, signed on June 22, 1940 with Germany and on June 24, 1940 with Italy, came into effect on June 25, 1940. France was divided into two zones: the German-occupied zone in the North, and the so-called “free” zone in the South, run by the Vichy government. Alsace-Moselle was annexed and became part of the Nazi Reich. The German army occupied this area and set up its own administrative organization within it.
Jules and Jeanne Braunschweig fled to the “free” zone run by the Vichy government (at an undetermined date). Until June 10, 1944, they lived at 8 rue Galtier in the 5th district of Lyon, in the Rhone department of France.
Life under the Vichy regime (July 1940 – November 11, 1942), then under German occupation (from November 11, 1942)
After France signed the armistice, on June 22, 1940, the city of Lyon was in the “free” zone in the southern part of France, run by the Vichy government. Marshal Pétain’s government was anti-Semitic and announced the existence of a “Jewish race” in the fall of 1940. On October 3, 1940, it introduced a law on the “Status of the Jews”, and on June 2, 1941, it ordered a nationwide census and passed another law about the status of the Jews. From then until the end of 1942, the French State adopted and published more than a hundred legal decrees targeting the Jews. It also took an active part in the deportation of foreign Jews. However, the Vichy government did not mandate the wearing of the yellow star in the free zone.
In response to the Anglo-American landing in North Africa, on November 8, 1942, the Germans immediately decided to invade and militarize the free zone (except for those departments occupied by Italian troops). On November 11, 1942, the Gestapo set up its headquarters in Lyon and Klaus Barbie was appointed head of section IV of the Gestapo. The Sipo-SD, the German security police, which included the Gestapo, was responsible for the fight against the Resistance and the hunt for Jews. The anti-Jewish section of the German police led a hunt that continued to expand and become more radical until the eve of the Liberation, claiming more than 3000 victims in the region.
Jules’ arrest in Lyon (June 10, 1944) and his deportation to Auschwitz (July 31, 1944)
Following a tip-off, Jules Braunschweig, probably together with his wife, Jeanne, was arrested by the Gestapo at their home, 8 rue Galtier in the 5th district of Lyon, on June 10, 1944. Some of their neighbors witnessed the arrest: Bernard and Ducros, both living at 8, rue Galtier in Lyon and Gautier, of 3, rue Louis Vitet in Lyon.
Jules was detained in the German prison at Fort Montluc in the 3rd district of Lyon, and then transferred, on June 30, 1944, to Drancy, a transit camp where Jews were gathered together before being deported to Auschwitz. On July 31, 1944, Jules, who was 54 and Jeanne, who was 53, were deported from Drancy to Auschwitz-Birkenau on Convoy 77. The original list of deportees on the convoy includes Jeanne Braunschweig . Jules and Jeanne arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau on August 3, 1944.
Jeanne was probably killed as soon as she arrived in Auschwitz. The official date of her death is August 5, 1944. A decree issued by the French Ministry of Defense on November 27, 2009, regarding the addition of the words “Died during deportation” to death certificates, states that Jeanne Braunschweig died on August 5, 1944 in Auschwitz, in Poland.
Jules was issued the identification number B-3702 and was interned in Block n°21 in the Auschwitz concentration camp .
On January 12, 1945, there were about 67,000 prisoners remaining in the three main camps at Auschwitz . Starting on January 17, 1945, as the Soviet army was approaching, the Nazis evacuated the Auschwitz camp. The SS forced 58,000 prisoners onto the roads, initiating the “death marches” to other camps inside German territory. 9,000 prisoners who were unable to walk were abandoned in Auschwitz, among them Jules Braunschweig. Before leaving Birkenau, the SS demolished many of the buildings of the killing center. On January 20, crematoria II and III were blown up with dynamite. On January 23, the Canada II barracks, which had been used to store deportees’ belongings, were set on fire. Then, on the 26th, crematorium V was blown up just before the SS left the site.
The liberation and Jules’ return to France
On January 27, 1945, the Soviet troops arrived at Auschwitz. Of the 9,000 prisoners left behind by the SS, a few thousand were still alive. Jules Braunschweig’s name appears on the list of names of deportees found alive when the Auschwitz camp was liberated.
The Soviets took charge of the liberated prisoners. Doctors and nurses from the Polish Red Cross and Soviet Army Health corps treated the sick. A Red Cross hospital was set up in the main camp. In February 1945, Jules Braunschweig had a phlegmon in his left hand, i.e. an infection affecting the sheath of the flexor tendons of the fingers. This phlegmon could have resulted from beatings he incurred while working (“durch Schläge bei der Arbeit”).
The initial repatriations took place in March 1945. The deportees were repatriated by boat via Kiev and Odessa and landed in Marseille, on the south coast of France. Jules Braunschweig, who was by this time 55 years old, was repatriated on May 2, 1945.
Jules Braunschweig arrived, according to the various sources, on either July 7, 1945, July 10, 1945 or July 12, 1945, at the Marseille Repatriation Center. He was issued a repatriation card, number I. 254. 859, category D.P. (political deportee), which was based on the statement he made on his return to France. Jules was given a medical examination on July 12, 1945. His general state of health was considered to be “good”. He was not suffering from an overall loss of weight.
Jules’ life after 1946
On February 6, 1946, Jules Braunschweig received a deportation certificate (model A) from the Head of the Office of Files of Political Prisoners and Deportees at the Ministry of Prisoners, Deportees and Refugees.
Jules later applied to the Ministry of Veterans and Victims of War for the title of political deportee. At the time, he was living at 151, rue de Belleville in the 19th district of Paris and was a travelling salesman. On March 22, 1954, the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Victims of War awarded him the title of political deportee and issued him with a political deportee card, no. 1101.10412.
On June 6, 1955, Jules, who was then 65 years old, received a payment of 15,600 French francs from the Ministry of Veterans Affairs and Victims of War. This allowance was paid to him according to Decree no. 53-103, dated February 14, 1953, which referred to the granting of an allowance to political deportees and internees in accordance with Law no. 52-843, dated July 19, 1952. It was intended to improve the living conditions of war veterans and victims of war.
Jules’ older brother, Elias Braunschweig, died on August 26, 1970 in Clermont-Ferrand in the Puy-de-Dôme department. Jeanne’s brother, Georges Meyer, died on July 15, 1972 in Nice, in the Alpes-Maritimes department. Jules Braunschweig, who had been living at 3, allée Paul Langevin in Rosny-sous-Bois, in the Seine-Saint-Denis department, died on February 11, 1976 in a hospital on the avenue du 14 juillet in Bondy, also in the Seine-Saint-Denis department. He was 86 years old.
We do not know if Jules Braunschweig ever testified about his experience and we have not been able to trace any of his family members. The Braunschweig family appears to have been completely forgotten: there is no testimonial page about the Braunschweig family on the Yad Vashem website, and Jules was not included in the list of Jewish deportees from the Haut-Rhin department.
The names of Jules Braunschweig and Jeanne Braunschweig do, however, appear on the wall of names at the Shoah Memorial in Paris.
Biography completed on July 8, 2021