|Fernand Bybelezer (Bablidon)|
You come away with the feeling that given the opportunity, Fernand Bybelezer would never back away from a fight. When the Nazis marched into Paris in June 1940, Fernand went to join the Free French under De Gaulle, but was caught by the Nazis at the Spanish border and then incarcerated in Gestapo headquarters. After being in a series of French-based concentration camps, Fernand was en route to Auschwitz when he jumped off a moving train in November 1943.
From then on, he fought in the underground until the liberation of Pairs in August 1944, and then joined the French Army, fighting in France and Germany. He was discharged in October 1945 and joined the Haganah in 1946.
He trained Jews in various displaced persons camps, collected Czech and Russian weapons and helped Aliyah Bet. For his trouble, Fernand was arrested by the French and imprisoned for 10 weeks, but was eventually let off with a fine. He left for Israel in July 1948.
An officer in the French Commando Company of Palmach Hanegev, Fernand was promoted to captain soon after the conquest of Beersheba. He was moved by the participation of gentiles who fought for Israel, men such as his battalion commander, who went under the nom-de-guerre Teddy Eitan.
The defining moment of his military experience was when Fernand was wounded in Beersheba and taken to the field hospital at Kibbuz Gvuloth. An angel of mercy, the head nurse Esther tended to this wounded soldier. Not wanting to stand in the way of love, the Israeli army arranged their wedding in March 1948.
Decorated with three citations, Fernand has a tattered Israeli flag that he preserves as a memento of his experience. A fitting visual metaphor for the Jewish people.