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Henry Fribourg

Tennessee Holocaust Commission -

Knoxville, Tennessee
Born: 1929 Paris, France
Refugee : Algeria; Cuba; United States

Henry Fribourg remembers “continuous streams of people walking on the highways to get away from German troops. People carried suitcases, bundles of clothing, knapsacks, babies; pushed wheelbarrows laden with grandmas or possessions; rode carts heaped high with household goods. Most were afraid of the German aerial bombardments they could hear from time to time.“

Henry's father was drafted into the French army in 1940. Henry and his mother and sister were at their summer home in Fontainebleau. Friends gave his pregnant mother a car. He says, “She hired a driver. We set out cross-country for Pau, a town near the border with Spain.“ Henry recalls walking alone one afternoon in search of an auto mechanic, but he attracted the attention of a German Messerschmitt pilot: “I was the only person in view, so I know I had his undivided attention as he strafed me with his machine guns. “Henry threw himself in a ditch, but the pilot kept trying. “He missed me the first time, came around for a second pass and then a third. I must have really been a threat! An eleven-year-old solitary boy on a narrow rural road.“

By August 1940 France had fallen to the Nazis, and Henry's father was allowed to come home. When Henry was expelled from school solely because he was Jewish, they moved to Algeria, then waited almost four years in Cuba to enter the United States, finally arriving in Miami in April 1945. Henry finished high school in Manhattan, New York. In 2004 he published his memoir, I Gave You Life Twice: A Story of Survival, Dreams, Betrayals and Accomplishments.