Yervante and Elbis Beurkdjian
Joseph and Hélène Goldhamer were originally Polish Jews who had married in Paris in the early 1920s. Joseph Goldhamer established a small children’s clothing business and earned a respectable living. Yervante Beurkdjian, an Armenian Christian who lived with his family in Colombes, a suburb of Paris, was a regular customer.
As part of the anti-Jewish legislation that began to be promulgated in October 1940, a law prescribing the “Aryanization” of Jewish property was passed in June 1941. This measure affected Goldhamer, and the management of his business was given to an “Aryan” Frenchman who collaborated with the Germans.
The Goldhamers lost their livelihood. They left their apartment in the third arrondissement of Paris and moved into an attic in the same building, thus escaping arrest during the massive roundup of Jews in Paris on July 16, 1942.
However, their situation remained precarious. At this juncture, Yervante Beurkdjian intervened. He invited the Goldhamers to leave their one-room lodgings and move in with his family. While his son stood watch in the street to warn them if the police showed up, Beurkdjian helped the Goldhamers move to his house. The Goldhamers remained with the six-member Beurkdjian family for eight months. Though they were not wealthy, and their apartment was small, the Beurkdjians gave the Goldhamers a room of their own and refused payment for room and board.
In the spring of 1943, after repeated announcements of the severe penalties inflicted upon persons caught harboring Jews, the Goldhamers decided to leave and spare the Beurkdjians further danger. Joseph and Hélène Goldhamer left the apartment in Colombes and managed to survive the war. They never forgot the Beurkdjians, and the two families remained close friends after the war.
The story of the Beurkdjian File
On 15 December 1981, Alfred-Francois Beurdkjian, resident of Vernouillet in the Paris region, France, wrote a letter to the Israeli Ambassador in Paris. He told the ambassador that he remembers the day of the big roundup in Paris on July 16-17, 1942, when he went with his father to the home of Joseph and Helene Goldhamer, their Jewish friends, and described how the Jewish couple was saved by his family. Mr. Beurdkjian asked that this act of generosity be remembered, and added “we would like, if possible, to get in touch with Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Goldhamer, whose trace we lost after their departure to the promised land”.
Helene Goldhamer’s address was found with the help of the Jewish Agency. In summer 1982 Alfred-Francois Beurkdjian wrote to Yad Vashem:
“I am pleased to tell you that I have met Mme Helene Goldhamer at the home of her sister and brother in law, Mr. and Mrs. M. Teboul, in Paris on 21 July 1982. This meeting was an immense joy for me . Thank you for the efficiency of your research services.”
On October 18, 1982, Yad Vashem recognized Yervante and Elbis Beurkdjian as Righteous Among the Nations.