Saturday, May 07, 2005
Our landlord stopped by yesterday. After our little problem with water damage (leaks from a poorly installed shower above us) we have seen him quite regularly. He apologized for being late, but he said he was tired because he just got back to Paris. He had just returned from Germany where he had been a guest of the German government for the commemoration of the liberation of the concentration camps.
About a year ago, he wrote us a letter -- which he does fairly often to conduct routine business -- and digressed by saying that it had been 60 or so years ago that day that the Gestapo had arrested him at 6:00am in the apartment we now occupied. We knew that he had been a career officer in the French army and that he had fought during World War II for the resistance. We did not know that, in fact, he was sent to a concentration camp for his involvement. This year he was back with 10,000 other German camp survivors. He reminisced a little and said it was painful to relive the memories but it was nice to meet up with a fellow inmate whom he hadn't seen in 20 years.
He loves Americans because he lived through WWII and knew the part we played in helping France. Our landlord was released from his camp the day after Hitler committed suicide. He said the doors were "just opened" that day. One of the first people he saw after his release was an American soldier, there to help.
He is -- and this is no exaggeration -- one of the nicest, most considerate and happiest people you will ever meet. After last summer's vacation he stopped by with a bottle of champagne to welcome us back and more specifically, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of D-Day, when the allied troops landed in Normandy.
When he gave us the champagne, I asked if he had a nice time at his country home, where he goes with his extended family every summer. He said, no, he did not go because his wife's health was just too fragile and she needed to be close to a hospital. I said that I was very sad for him since he couldn't be with his family but he looked at me with a big grin and laughed "Why? I'm old!" I have taken a life lesson from him. I can only imagine that at the age of 20 he was sitting in a work camp physically and emotionally beaten, fully believing that he wasn't going to make it home alive. Today, he is absolutely thrilled to be old. I hope I'll have the same attitude when I reach his age.
-- said Auntie M in Paris
# posted by Lisa : 11:30 PM
He sounds like a fabulous person, and I always love meeting people like that. They make quite an impression on you!
# posted by Joe : 3:15 AM
# posted by Anonymous : 3:16 AM
# posted by : 3:49 AM
# posted by BohemianMama : 7:04 AM
# posted by J&J'sMom : 2:59 PM
Have a lazy, productive, indulgent day (whichever you choose!)
# posted by Anonymous : 5:45 PM
Nice to hear a good landlord story - in these parts when that word is mentioned, it's usually means "oh-oh". Terry in SF
# posted by Anonymous : 5:47 PM
# posted by Amy Alkon : 6:05 PM
Joe, If you can believe it, he just stopped by and brought a bottle of champagne to celebrate Victory in Europe (VE) day -- May 8!! He is so thoughtful!
CMAC, It is a bit weird to think the Gestapo came to the apartment.
Sue, It certainly does put turning 40 years into perspective.
BM, I can't even imagine.
J&J, I'd guess that those families with loved ones in the military would appreciate each day more than the rest of us.
K, He really is a gentleman. That's a perfect word for him. Thanks for stopping by.
Terry, I think he kind of likes us too. I hope so, at least.
Amy, How nice that you write notes. It's a lost art. I can't believe you got invited to the 50th birthday party. The landlord must really like you!
# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 6:44 PM
I have to say I think about the Resistance a great deal these days.
If your resistance succeeds, then you are called a freedom fighter in the resistance. If however you fail, then you are called an insurgent at best and a terrorist at worst. I am happy your landlord is remembered as a member of the resistance.
I am sad for others who have had war visited upon them and do not have much support ...
BTW Auntie M, I wrote to you once before, I am the mom in Palo Alto with the children at the French school there. I have started a blog, only two entries so far...
# posted by Moms' Style : 11:31 PM
Your blog rocks, Auntie...
# posted by Candygirl : 12:43 AM
# posted by Flare : 1:32 PM