Jews in Breisach
Louis Dreyfuss (1900-1993), a gymnast, actor and carnival MC, was a popular celebrity in Breisach, Baden. In 1933 he became the first Jew from his home city to leave Germany. He survived the war hiding in France and eventually returned to Breisach in 1964.
"You will never see me slinking along the wall!" This sentence, uttered before he left Breisach in June 1933, demonstrates the courage and self-esteem that Louis Dreyfuss exhibited throughout his lifetime.
In the previous months he and his fellow Jewish citizens had been subjected to systematic harassment and violent attacks. Initially Louis Dreyfuss defended himself, but he soon realized that he had no chance.
Louis Dreyfuss and his Catholic fiancée Mathilde built up a new existence in French exile, only to be interned as "hostile foreigners" at the beginning of World War II. After France’s defeat the couple managed to flee to the Pyrenees.
There they encountered the remaining Jews of Breisach, who had been deported to Gurs concentration camp in Ocotober 1940, along with nearly all Jews of the Palatine and Baden.
Louis and Mathilde Dreyfuss did everything they could to help their imprisoned friends and acquaintances and to smuggle food into the camp.
They succeeded in freeing Louis' mother, but his sister died in Gurs even before the Jews of Breisach were deported to Auschwitz.