Alexandrine Kántor shares with us the very moving story of her family from the tragic story of the horror of WW2 to the spirit of reconciliation that inspired the creation of the European Union.

First published in January 2019.

I am fed up to live in Brexit Britain. People are free to shout “Nazi” on air to non-fascist officials, to treat our German neighbours in the most horrendous way (see tweet below), to blame the French for the future Dover chaos (Chris Grayling did). What is going on?


Why don’t you show some respect and stop recalling this part of history for whatever sick agenda, you fascists, have? Grow up and take some responsibilities for your actions!

This is my story:

I, like many Europeans, lost part of my family in Auschwitz, as my Hungarian Jewish surname Kántor suggests.

My Grandfather escaped Hungary while his family got deported to Auschwitz.

He then entered the French Légion étrangère in France and burnt his ID, that was mentioning that he was JEW, got a new one where he lied about his religion, and changed his name from Tivadar Kántor to Théodore Kantor. My Grandad’s father was Sandor Kántor.

(My third name is Théodora, as my other Grandfather is Tudor.)

(Photo: Alexandrine Kántor)

No one in France knew that Kantor is heavily Jewish of origin, so my Grandad was quite safe.

He was really smart and had to survive because later, after the war, the iron wall also blocked communication with his family.

He had to do some cleaning jobs to buy food and had no shoes when he met my Nan.

He later graduated from an engineering school.

He wanted to come back to Hungary, but his family told him to stay in France.

He ended his career being one of the top head of labs for the British fuel retailer Esso, in France.

My Grandad also had the sense of humour. He once told my Dad that during the war, he had had a one-night stand with a woman who told him in bed, as pillow talk that apparently, that she could feel when people were Jewish... It seems it didn’t work that well, after all! 😉

This now is a picture of my Grandad’s Czech maternal family, Neumann, with his mother Bertha, all men gone.

(Photo: Alexandrine Kántor)

She sent her son away to protect him.

She rescued a dozen of Jews by hiding them in her business basement.

During the war, my Grandmother was expelled from her home in Alsace because she was not German enough.

In her refugee camp in Lyon, she heard French citizens complaining that they would have more food without all those refugees.

(Photo: Alexandrine Kántor)

Brexiters like Mark Francois should leave WW2 where it is. There are no good memories for anyone there. The only good thing that came out of the war was the creation of what later became the European Union to make sure this will never happen again.

How amazing it is to have moved past these dark times without forgetting. And despite all of that happened to my family, I would like to add that I deeply love Germany and my German friends.

Stop holding them to account. They were not born at the time.

It is hard to be the child of victims, but I cannot imagine how hard it is to be the child of those who were involved.

Leave them alone.🔷

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[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 26 January 2019, with the author’s consent, with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Dreamtime/Koba Samurkasov - Kindertransport memorial statue commemorates a series of rescue efforts which brought thousands of refugee Jewish children to the UK from Nazi Germany 1938-1940.)