I’ve been reading a great deal about some recent books detailing experiences of the men and women placed in the “camps” during WW2. I’ve been reading “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” and reminded me of some people I’ve met.
First there was Geraldo, the Frenchman who, along with his wife of many many years ran an Italian restaurant in Kailua. I found out he held some the highest military medal and honors the French government could bestow on a member of the resistance, including the “Croix de guerre”. An honor so grave, that all men should stand when the recipient enters the room.
He had come to Hawaii during the 50’s when his daughter had gotten married here. He just stayed.
He had also become a United States citizen and had sponsored a man into the United States and brought him to Hawaii.
This man’s name I never knew. He owned a run-down second hand book store on South King Street. I spent more than a little digging around in that shop.
The store was dark; shelves lined 2, 3 or 4 deep, very little lighting and lots of cats.
I eventually learned he was an Auschwitz survivor, bore the number tattoo on his left forearm and was the 1st person Geraldo had freed when the camp was “liberated” in January 1945.
One night the book store burned to the ground, very, very quickly. An old wooden building, full of old books and papers and who knows how bad or old the electrical wiring was; all in all a very bad accident. The resident never got out. I have always felt better thinking it was an accident and not the end of a man who had seen too much pain for any lifetime.