Jozef Epstein

This is Jozef Epstein, my sister-in-law’s brother. He was a famous leader of the communist French Resistance. His original name is printed on the right edge of the photo. The name in the brackets is his nickname - Colonel Gilles. I don’t know who took this picture. 

My sister-in-law’s brother was a real hero. His first name was Jozef, last name Epstein. He wrote a book, ‘Les Fils de la Nuit.’ He was a wonderful man. He was very smart and very brave. He belonged to the communist movement before the war. His father somehow managed that he got away with it, didn’t go to jail, but he sent him to Czech lands. Jozef went through Bohemia to Spain, where he fought in the civil war.

Later he moved to Paris and was in the French opposition. He became the vice-commander of Paris. That was a rather high position. But they arrested him. He had a trial, along with twenty-something other communists from various countries, mostly Jews. They were all sentenced to death.

My sister-in-law’s name was Eleonora. That was the name on her birth certificate. Her family also came from Zamosc. Eleonora was a communist activist. This sister-in-law was raised by the sister of Isaac Leib Peretz, who was like a grandmother to her. Eleonora Epstein’s real grandmother died young. A friend of the family – I.L. Peretz’s sister – Mrs. Goldsztajn took over that role. 

I can’t say much about that family, but this grandmother was an exceptional woman. When the Jewish militiamen came to get her to deport her to a death camp, probably the camp in Belzec, she didn’t go with them. She simply told them she wouldn’t go. So they shot her right away. 

She had two sons. One was in the Soviet Union, and that’s where he died, and the second one was here, in Poland. He was an engineer. He had two daughters. Their mother was a doctor. Two charming girls. They were living next to us in Zamosc. Both were captured by those Jewish traitors, when their mother and father were not at home. And they both died.