Tony-Netanel Gryn – Jewish Resistance Activist in France

Tony Gryn was born in 1921 in Lublin, Poland.  In 1933, he left for Paris with his mother and younger sister.  His father had moved there two years earlier in the wake of the financial crisis of the late '20s, which affected his ability to make a living in the cotton trade.  In 1939, Tony was accepted to the University of Paris to study medicine, and managed to complete the preparatory year. 

The Germans invaded France in May 1940.  Tony was arrested by the Gestapo in August for disseminating anti-German propaganda, and was imprisoned in Fresnes jail.  Released in August 1941, he worked as a teacher in the Jewish center in Paris.  In February 1942, he moved to "Vichy" territory, the French regime in southern France that collaborated with Nazi Germany. 

The round-up of the Jews of Paris was carried out in July 1942.  Within a week, French policemen arrested some 13,000 Jews and detained them in the Winter Stadium (Velodrome d'Hiver) in Paris, in dire, overcrowded conditions with barely any water, food or sanitation facilities.   The detainees were then transferred to the concentration camps of Pithiviers, Beane-la-Rolande and Drancy, from which most of them were deported to Auschwitz and murdered.  Tony's mother, Rivka Gryn, was among the arrested Jews.  She was deported to her death at Auschwitz on 27 July 1942.

Tony's father and younger sister managed to escape from Paris, and with Tony's help they reached Lyon.  In October 1942, Tony's father Isaac was caught in possession of forged papers, and sent to the Riversaltes camp.  After some two months, Tony succeeded in smuggling Isaac out of the camp and bringing him to a Grenoble suburb.  His sister lived in Lyon under the assumed name of Alice Potard.  Tony joined the Zionist Youth Movement underground (MJS) in Grenoble, and was approached by Shimon Levitt, a Zionist youth leader in the area, to establish a network to rescue Jewish children and smuggle them into Switzerland.  In the summer of 1943, Tony was in charge of a group of Zionist youth that smuggled out hundreds of Jewish children and families who had come from all over southern and eastern France. This underground rescue activity continued until October 1943.  Tony was assisted in his work by Rolande Birgy, later recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.

In early November 1943, Shimon Levitt sent Tony to Paris in order to set up a Jewish underground rescue unit.  He started by recruiting members of MJS and the Jewish Scouts Movement, which was already active in the French Resistance.  He established a workshop for forging documents, and a network for them to reach thousands of Jews hiding in Paris and northern France.  He organized liaisons, who sourced the forms and stamps crucial for the forging operation and obtained them at great personal risk.  In the workshop set up in a safe house in Paris, hundreds of stamps were replicated, and different documents were prepared according to names and ID details obtained from municipal offices. The documents were given to many Jews, and to members of the French Resistance.  These forged papers also facilitated the activities of the Jewish rescue network.  The forged documents produced included IDs, birth certificates, coupons for food, clothing and tobacco, release papers from the French Army, Disabled Army Veteran certificates, exemptions from forced labor, marriage and death certificates.  By the end of the war, thousands of forged documents had been produced in Tony's workshop.  In January 1944, Tony and his workshop assistant Lucien Rubel established an urban fighting unit in Paris (Corp Franc) under Rubel's command.  The group was affiliated with the "Armée Juive" underground movement, and fought in the battles to liberate Paris as part of the FFI (Forces Francaises de l'Interior), a French resistance organization set up close to the war's end. 

In 1957, Tony immigrated to Israel.  In 1987, the President of France awarded him the "Legion d'Honneure" for his resistance activities during World War II.  He passed away in Israel two years later.

In 2006, Tony's sister Alice Gliklich submitted a Page of Testimony to Yad Vashem in memory of her mother, Rivka Gryn. In 2009 and 2013, dozens of documents and certificates produced in Tony's workshop in Paris in the years 1943-1945, some of which are displayed here, were donated to the Yad Vashem Archives.