"I leave full of courage, and with God's help. I ask you not to worry, and to look after our dear son Jacques."
Elie Barsimantov wrote these words on the last postcard that he sent from Drancy to his wife Sarah in Paris.
Elie Barsimantov was born in 1900 in Smyrna (today Izmir) in Turkey. He immigrated to France in 1922 and settled in Paris. Elie earned his living in trade. Elie met Sarah Gabai, who was also born in Smyrna and immigrated to Paris with her parents. In 1935 Elie and Sarah got married, and a year later their son Jacques was born.
In September 1941, Elie was arrested in Paris and sent to the Drancy camp, where he was imprisoned until his deportation to Auschwitz in August 1942. His wife and son continued to live in Paris. Elie sent letters and postcards to Sarah from Drancy, and received letters and parcels from her. Elie sent his last postcard a day before his deportation to Auschwitz:
"I am writing you this postcard to let you know that as per camp orders, I am leaving for work at an unknown destination… I ask you to be strong and patient… Try to keep your spirits up. Don't send me any more letters or parcels to Drancy."
After Elie's deportation to Auschwitz, Sarah and Jacques fled to southern France, to the area of Marseilles, where they lived until liberation. After the war, Sarah and Jacques remained in France. Jacques enlisted in the French Army and in 1955/6, immigrated to Peru, where Sarah's relatives had moved before the war. Some ten years later, Sarah joined him there.
The name Raphael Barsimantov appears in Yad Vashem's Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names, as having been deported to Auschwitz in September 1942 and murdered. It is unclear as to whether he is one of Elie's brothers, or a relative.
In 2016, Jacques's son Elie Barsimantov, named after his grandfather, donated documents and letters to Yad Vashem as part of the ongoing project "Gathering the Fragments", and submitted a Page of Testimony in memory of his grandfather.
My dearest Sarah,
I am writing you this postcard to let you know that as per camp orders, I am leaving for work at an unknown destination.
I leave full of courage, and with God's help. I ask you not to worry, and to look after our dear son Jacques. I ask you to be strong and patient. We hope that with God's help all this will end and we will once again be joyfully reunited. Try to keep your spirits up. Don't send me any more letters or parcels to Drancy. Try to get the laundry that Mr. Saltiel is going to send you and please be brave.
Hugs to my sisters and to the families of my brother Albert, Vitalis and Raphael, and also to your family. All the bureaucratic efforts and attempts that you made on my behalf [to get me out of the camp] were fruitless, but I thank you.
I embrace you and our darling Jacques with all my strength.
I am leaving on Monday morning.