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Emile M Tubiana

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Tunis Under The German Occupation
By Emile M Tubiana
Monday, September 21, 2009

Rated "G" by the Author.

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This may seem odd, but it really happened.

Tunis Under The German Occupation

During the German occupation of Tunisia, the Germans had established rules concerning the Jews.  The Jewish men were taken to forced labor. The wealthy Jewish families had to pay important sums of money to the Jewish committee, in order to pay for the cost involved for the meals and other expenses for the Jewish forced labor. The young men belonging to these families could be excused from the forced labor against the payments that their families had to make. Furthermore those who had nice and large apartments or houses had to give their best rooms to the German officers.

My grandma's sister, who lived in the rich part of Tunis told me the following story:
One of her neighbors who had the largest apartment in the building had to take in a German colonel against her will.  Her son Robert who was taken in a German raffle was later freed by the intervention of the colonel. 
This officer came every evening and set up quarters in the best room of the house. The lady of the house cooked every day great and tasty dishes and served the officer who sat at the table with the family. The lady, who didn't like the German, finished by accepting his presence and served him breakfast and dinner every day.
The German loved her dishes and particularly her couscous and her meatballs which she used to cook every Friday for Sabbath. The good dishes helped maintain a friendly relationship with the officer. The German, who was in this country to fight a war found himself surrounded by a kind Jewish family who took care of his daily needs. 
After a few weeks he started calling the lady "Mother" and to show his appreciation for her care, he brought home some goodies every night. The German officer was well educated and in order to be fair, he also brought some tobacco and cigarette paper for rolling it, to her husband The latter sold them on the black market and with the proceeds he bought necessities.
One day, the officer brought home a great Pumpernickel bread The lady, who had never seen black bread, said instinctively: "Poor people, this is all the bread they have!"  The colonel, who did not understand what the lady meant by this, asked her son Robert: "What did your mom say?" Robert, who knew what his mom meant kept his cool and answered: "It is a miracle to have access to such great bread." The German turned to the lady and said: "Mother, I can bring  you every day such a miracle". The lady, who did not understand what he said, thanked him and went to her room.
Many times, members of the Jewish community  approached Robert for a favor, who in turn addressed it at the appropriate moment to the German colonel.  This way many weak and sick Jewish laborers could have a relief and sometimes were freed from the German labor camp.
The relationship between the colonel, the father, the lady and their son were polite and respectful.
One day it was the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday). The colonel was free that day and stayed home. As usual, he took his shower, got ready, and then visited the lady of the house, having a cigarette in his hand.  When the lady saw the cigarette, she exclaimed loudly, and said: "Get out of my room!"  The colonel did not understand why the lady, who usually was very kind to him, seemed to scold him. He went to Robert's room and told him what happened with his mom. Robert from his part, exclaimed too, and said: "You dared to go to mom's room, on Sabbath, with a cigarette in your hand? You insulted her and this is disrespectful for mom." The colonel was ashamed for having insulted the lady whom he liked so much and asked Robert what he had to do to correct this misfortune.  Robert calmly told him: "Go to mom and apologize to her and promise her that you will never smoke a cigarette on a Saturday".
The colonel who did not want to disturb the good relationship with the lady, who prepared good dishes for him every day, went to the mother without the cigarette, and after apologizing, he said: "Mother I will never smoke again on the Sabbath, I promise".


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Reviewed by David Hightower 9/22/2009
Emile - Like Cryssa, I always enjoy your stories. We cannot all have the same experiences, nor would we want to, but through the telling and writing of them we all become wiser.

- David
Reviewed by Cryssa C 9/22/2009
I always enjoy your stories--especially the true ones. You have a gift of knowledge and wisdom that needs to be shared with younger generations. Each time you tell a story, I can imagine children and grandchildren gathered around your knees--listening intently to the stories of generations past. I only hope that all listen.

Cryssa :~)
Reviewed by Georg Mateos 9/22/2009
The Tunis I knew was after the war, a gentle land full of gentle people.
This story should be part of a book.


Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 9/22/2009
Excellent slice of history, Emile; well done!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :)

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