I read, with fascination, your account of the wartime activities of Barbara and Pierre Gabard because my knowledge of their story differs somewhat from yours. To the best of my knowledge, Pierre Gabard, actually George Pierre Gabard, was never in the French Underground, as you tell it, because he was serving in Africa with the French marines when WW II began and immediately joined General Charles de Gaule and his Free French forces in Africa.
Gabard was in the defense of Bir Hakim, against the advance of Rommel towards Alexandria, and was gravely wounded in his left leg during that battle. He subsequently lost that leg and was shipped to the United States to be fitted with a prosthesis. There he met Barbara Padowicz, married her and was eventually appointed French Consul General to Philadelphia. This is all well documented, particularly since the French government recognizes him as a major hero, and a sports stadium in Egouleme is named after him. If there was a connection with the “Frances” to whom you refer, I have no knowledge of it. But it is a matter of record that he was never in France during the war and so could not have served with the Underground.
As to his wife, Barbara, she was not a “cousin of the Rosenfelds” but a Rosenfeld herself. Her father was Moses Rosenfeld of Lodz. Nor was she rescued from the Lodz ghetto by Frazeska von Spileberg. While she was born in Lodz, from the approximate age of twenty two, she lived in Warsaw and did not set foot in Lodz during or after the war.
Furthermore, she did not have “children,” but one son named Julian, with whom she escaped in rather dramatic fashion from Soviet-occupied eastern Poland by crossing the Carpathian Mountains on foot into Hungary, in February of 1940. This escape was documented in the “New York Times” and other press upon her arrival in America in 1941. For further information on this escape, I refer you to the book, “Mother and Me: Escape from Warsaw 1939,” published in ’06 by Academy Chicago and named “Book of the Year” for that year.
I believe my knowledge of these stories is a little more detailed than yours, since George Pierre Gabard was my stepfather, Barbara Rosenfeld Padowicz Gabard was my mother, and I accompanied her on that trip across the Carpathians.
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