Thursday, July 2, 2015

Daniel Samuel a.k.a. Denis Gauthier

Daniel Samuel, or as he was known in the resistance “Denis Gauthier”, was born in Strasbourg in 1921.
During the occupation of Paris by the Nazis, Daniel worked with an optician until he was drafted in 1941 to the "Chantiers de la Jeunesse”, a paramilitary organization created by the Vichy government for youth between the ages of 18-20, who were called up for six months. The uniform of the organization was in fact a French army uniform.
A few months after his release, Daniel moved to Nice (in Vichy France). They lived with his aunt, who, together with her husband, was active in the resistance. Their address served as the “post office box” for a Jewish resistance group called “La Sixieme” ("La Sixieme Eclaireurs Israelites de France").
In his aunt and uncle’s home, Daniel met Maurice Cachoud (whose real name was Maurice Loevenberg), one of the leader’s of “La Sixieme”. Maurice sent Daniel from Nice to Lyon with false identity papers under the name Denis Gauthier to learn how to create forged rubber stamps and documents. The patience and precision that he had learned as an optician were a great advantage in his new role, for the work required an ability to carve official seals including tiny text that had to be carved in mirror image.
The raw material used to make the forged seals was linoleum, taken from the floors of trains on his late night train rides to Paris.
At the beginning of 1943, Daniel was sent to St. Etienne where he made contact with the "L ’Aide aux Mères” organization and in cooperation with them he forged rations cards that were supplied to hidden Jewish children. Among the hidden families he prepared ration cards for in St. Etienne, was the Levie family, his future wife’s family.
In February 1944, the Gestapo in Nice arrested Daniel’s aunt. She ultimately managed to escape and survive the war. Tragically, Daniels mother and his brother Claude, who was active in the ORA resistance group (Organisation de résistance de l'armée), were caught as a result, deported to Drancy and from there to camps in Poland, where they perished.
St. Etienne was liberated in July 1944 and the resistance groups joined the Free French Forces and fought together with the Allies in remaining battles. Denis Gauthier returned to his original name, Daniel Samuel, and fought with the Alpine troops. He was injured while fighting on the border between Italy and France in the Alps and released from the army.

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