Bearing Witness: Stories Behind the Artifacts in the Yad Vashem Museum Collection

Chess board used by the youth Issachar Parkiet and his family in their hideout

Chess board used by the youth Issachar Parkiet and his family in their hideoutChess board used by the youth Issachar Parkiet and his family in their hideout The Parkiet family during the war in France. From right to left: the Parkiet family - Joseph, Issachar, Chaim (Henry), Rikla (Rachel) and at the bottom – Benjamin (Bernard)The Parkiet family during the war in France. From right to left: the Parkiet family - Joseph, Issachar, Chaim (Henry), Rikla (Rachel) and at the bottom – Benjamin (Bernard)

In the summer of 1942, Joseph Parkiet was warned by an acquaintance that the next day a massive roundup of Jews was scheduled to take place throughout Paris, and advising him to go into hiding. He quickly hid with his wife and children in the family workshop, moving the following day to a friend's workshop located in a courtyard, where they remained for over two years until the end of the war.

Joseph worked before the war as a furniture polisher and his oldest son Issachar learned to be an upholsterer. These skills enabled the family to make a living even after the war broke out; father and son continued to make furniture and sell it. The youngest son, nine-year-old Benjamin, had the most dangerous role – he would slip out of the courtyard and buy food for the family.

In 1943 a Hungarian Jew by the name of Kreisman joined them in their hideout. While there, Kreisman made a chess board and chess pieces and taught Issachar the game. The two played for hours thus filling the long hours with a pleasant diversion.

When Paris was liberated, the trauma of spending over two years inside the workshop caused Joseph's wife Rikla to refuse to leave the hideout until he brought a Yiddish-speaking American soldier to convince her that the war was over and that it was safe to come out.

In 1949 the Parkiet family immigrated to Israel. In the Beit Yaakov immigration camp Issachar met his wife. He subsequently taught his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren the rules of chess,  the game that he learned to master while he was in hiding.

Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection
Donated by Issachar Parkiet, Israel