Dash Across the Eurozone and Middle East--Retracing a Family Journey and Embarking on a New One

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In 1940 my grandmother and her family left their home in Brussels to flee the Nazis. After travelling through France, Spain and Portugal for a year they made it onto one of the last ships for America departing from Lisbon. 71 years later my mother and I will be retracing this escape route.

The family was comprised of: Esther Beizer (mother), Mechel Beizer (father), Margot Beizer (eldest sibling--10 years old--my grandmother), Samuel Beizer (middle sibling--8 years old), Boris Beizer (youngest sibling--6 years old).

Below is the rough timeline of their journey. For further details and a first-hand account of this journey please scroll to the bottom of this page and click on the locations listed below for the full stories and to watch video clips of my great uncle Boris recount this story.

- May 11, 1940: Leave home in Brussels

~ May 13, 1940: Travel to a location a little outside of Dunkirk in Northern France

~ May 15, 1940: Travel to Paris

~ Late May 1940: Mechel separates to join French Army near Dunkirk

~ June 1940: Three children go to nunnery in Cap Breton, Southern France. Mechel leaves army. Esther leaves children at nunnery and separates.

~ Late June 1940: Mechel goes to Montpellier in Southern France to get work.

~ July 1940: Mechel and Esther find each other using newspaper advertisements. Esther breaks kids out of nunnery in Cap Breton where they had been baptized and brings them to Montpellier.

~ August 1940 - April 1941: Kids attend school in Montpellier. Mechel works. Esther, who was born in America, works on getting U.S. immigration papers.

~ April 1941: Family leaves Montpellier and rushes through fascist Spain and Portugal. Leave Lisbon on the SS Siboney's last trip to U.S.

_ _ _

After following my family's path, I will fly from Lisbon to Berlin where I will meet my friend and we will travel South ending in Northern Italy. I will then fly from Milan to Tel Aviv and will end my summer in Israel.

I encourage you to follow this blog to learn the lessons and hear the stories I encounter along the way.

  • Beizer Journey Part 1: Brussels
  • Trento and Northern Italy
Trip Start Jun 22, 2012
Trip End Aug 08, 2012

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