1882-1944 | Birth: | Arrest: | Residence:


Martial Mardochée Crémieux descended from a family of “Papal Jews” who had settled in the Comtat Venaissin between Carpentras,  Cavaillon and l’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.  He was born in Marseille in 1877. Martial’s father’s name was Gabriel Crémieux.  His mother was Anaïs Millaud.

During the second half of the nineteenth century the Crémieux tribe spread north, developing a kind of “chain” of tailor shops whose motto was “Crémieux habille mieux” (Crémieux clothes better) in Toulouse, Saint-Nazaire, Tours.

Martial was short; he could hardly have been more than 1.55 meters (5 feet) tall. He was of the “poilu” generation (WWI veterans) and he wrote, perhaps in the trenches, a battle song that wasn’t worth zilch but which gave marvelous insight into the delusions of the time. With his wife Fanny, née Meyer, he led a quiet, modest life among his needles and his chalk at n° 54 rue des Martyrs, near the Place Pigalle in Montmartre. His great worry was the quarterly bills to be paid and the deadbeats given credit so as to avoid losing everything. He was apparently a kind of Parisian “cockney”, whose humor was greatly enjoyed at family get-togethers. He would slip five francs to the municipal employee when he went to vote so as not to have to hear “Martial Mardochée” called out. His first name was already ridiculously ill-suited to his physique!

Fanny seems to have had a little side business selling second-hand jewelry.

Martial and Fanny were of low stature living a lowly life in their low-rent apartment in their lower-class neighborhood. They had suffered the tragedy of losing a 14-year-old son. They scrupulously paid their taxes and their rent, never jay-walked, and obeyed the law. It never occurred to them for a second to refuse to comply with the law requiring all Jews to declare their identity. Their I.D. cards carried a red stamp and they wore the yellow star. They did their shopping in the allotted time slots; their telephone was cut off. A cousin is said to have warned them in July, 1944, when the allied troops were only a few dozen kilometers from Paris, that a roundup was scheduled for the next day, but they dared not go to a hotel even for one night. It was forbidden!

The Auschwitz archives are dry, but clear:

“Crémieux Fanny and Martial were killed in the gas chamber upon arrival in the camp”.

They no doubt never did understand…


Alain Crémieux

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