This work has been undertaken following the loss of my poor brother at the Jewish Forced Labor Camp of El Aouina, and particularly traces the life of the Jewish forced laborers under the German Occupation of Tunisia.1
As a result of the appeals of many of my coreligionists and, most particularly the parents of certain Jewish forced laborers who died at the camp, I have gathered the photos of these poor martyrs and have mainly summarized in Judeo-Arabic, rather than in French, the daily life of these laborers.
I believe that I have thus contributed to relieving the wounded parents [of the laborers] belonging to the Tunisian Ghetto and who read predominantly in Judeo-Arabic.
This work entitled, "Our martyrs under the German boot," is not a defense presented by an abettor, nor a revelation of certain glorious facts, but a living story of the life during the German occupation of Tunisia, of my brothers, the "Jewish ex-forced laborers" in different German camps.
The loss of my brother Simon-Chalom, in the prime of his life after abominable suffering as a forced laborer in El-Aouina, prompted me to write the present work.
Many were like him, underwent the same thing, and had to suffer not only injustice, cynicism, and German tyranny but also a horrific death as a result of their forced labor.
While feeling the pain of the loss so dear of my brother, and understanding that families are tried by the same grief, I have faithfully retraced in this work the journeys experienced by many among us.
Then compare our readers here, the serious misconduct by some, the unqualified egoism of many others, and the combined prejudicial nature of many rogues, to the heroism and devotion of many of our coreligionists.
In the memory of the poor fallen martyrs of the front, in their youth, health, and vigor,
Pray for the peace of their souls,
F.H.G. Guez, mohel2
Conclusive moral of "the work"
We can observe that the worst that had befallen us lasted only a short while, and cannot be compared to the countries of Europe.
Each of us has a duty to God, and every believer must love God and emulate His example of justice.
One must adore Him for he gives grace and protection to us.
Please pray now for his assistance in these hours of distress, for our numerous needs.
We must have a sense of recognition of a boundless God who, under His protection the people of Israel escaped slavery in Egypt,3 Babylon,4 and the extermination of the race under the "German boot," and who have survived all the overwhelming pain and oppression through the centuries.
But we will not forget that this point is essential:
"Love your neighbor as yourself."5
What does this mean?
Next, listen to us, everyone, of every origin, race, or religion.
As it is prescribed in the "oral law,"6 take part in the future life of justice for all the nations.
We must impose upon ourselves the necessity of justice and charity.
Our religion recommends particular love and respect for all who are superior in "wisdom, experience, and virtue."
A particular pity to the wounded, the infirm, the orphans, the widows.
This remains the great duty, the duty to our mother, the homeland.
The homeland is the country where one is born, where one lives under its protection, and where one rests upon death.
All Israelites must love their homeland, France, contribute to its material and moral prosperity, subordinate themselves to the interests of their country.
Also, one must defend his homeland, at risk to his life, against all aggressors.
As it is said in
Contribute to the salvation of the State to which I have carried you...
Pray God for its happiness, because your prosperity depends on it.
The Last Hour
To those who were kind enough to respond to my call:
In response to my call released on the 11 and the 15 of June, given a delay to the 20th of June 1946, many relatives of the dead wanted to write to me.
I thank them and take note.
To my great regret I cannot include their communications in my work.
The work is finished, their letters were received after the delay indicated.
Concerning only the Jewish ex-forced laborers, I cannot, in fact, speak about deportees who were assassinated nor those who disappeared. All of them are also our martyrs, but given the multitude of these cases, the work would have been delayed and could not, moreover, represent the purpose set out in the preface.