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View Diary: A Promise to My Grandfather: A Follow Up (321 comments)

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  •  A similar (though not as dramatic) story (4.00)
    A few years ago, I became interested in the life and 1944 rescue of my Great Uncle, a French doctor who died in France when I was only one year old.  He had no children, but I followed various family leads and wrote to the mayors of the various towns in which he lived.  On a trip to France in 1997, I met the son of Francois Naffrechoux, the farmer who rescued him in Western France (Deux-Sevres) in 1944, and people who knew him in his home town of St. Avold in Alsace-Lorraine, right on the Maginot Line.

    Before WW I, and in 1939-40, he lived in the town of Thiaucourt, near Nancy.  The Mayor of Thiaucourt sent me the name of a M. Thirot, who the Mayor said remembered him from 1939-40.  But when I approached the town, I couldn't reach either M. Thirot or the Mayor.  I'd pretty much given up on finding him when I arrived in St. Avold.

    The Mayor of St. Avold had given me the names (and phone numbers) of two prominent Jewish residents of the town who remembered my great uncle.  One of them, Jacques, owned "Dodo," a quilt company based in St. Avold.  Dodo's heir apparent was Jacque's son Didier.  I asked Jacques and Didier if they knew anyone in Thiaucourt.  Didier stunned me by saying that he was originally from Thiaucourt, that he knew both the Mayor and M. Thirot and that he would be glad to set up an appointment to meet him.

    Thiaucourt is a tiny village about fifty miles from St Avold, and there was no earthly reaosn for Didier to have been from there.  It seemed like more than a marveolous coincidence, and felt like somehow my great uncle was guiding me on my journey to his past -- as though my persistence had elicited some spiritual help from the man himself.  The next day M. Thirot met us in Thiaucourt right outside my great uncle's old house, and recounted his memories of him.

    Based on all of this information, I nominated the Naffrechouxs for the Medal of the Righteous Among Nations, and they were admitted posthumously at a ceremony in Paris in 1998.  Their granddaugther Therese accepted on their behalf.
     

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