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Thomas Elek aka KERPAL (b. 7 December 1924, Budapest, d. 1944) was one of the members of the French resistance executed at the fort of Mont Valérien as a member of the Manouchian group, a volunteer of the French liberation army FTP-MOI. His name is one of the ten which featured on the Affiche Rouge displayed by the Germans during the trial of the 23 captured members of the Manouchian group. His photograph is displayed with the caption Elek Juif Hongrois 8 déraillements (Elek, Hungarian Jew, 8 derailments).

Contents

Biography

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Early years

Thomas Elek was born in Budapest, Hungary on the 7 December 1924 to a family of communist intellectuals. The Elek family (Thomas, his father Sandor, his sister Marthe and his mother Hélène, then pregnant with a brother, Bela) emigrated to France in 1930. They settled in Paris, where his mother, after various minor jobs, became a restaurateur in 1934.

Second World War

Thomas left the Lycée Louis le Grand at the age of 16, to become involved in the underground movement. He joined a group of students at the Sorbonne who were linked to the Groupe du musée de l'Homme, wrote and distributed tracts, and stuck "papillons" (butterflies) to walls. In August 1942, sympathising with the Jeunesses Communistes (communist youth), he became involved with the FTP-MOI (Francs-tireurs et partisans - Main-d'œuvre immigrée) and took up the armed struggle. Shortly after, his first operation was a solo attack on the Rive Gauche German bookstore with a booby-trapped book. In March 1943, along with a young Czech, Pavel Simo, he performed a grenade attack on a restaurant reserved for German officers at Asnières. Simo was arrested, and would be shot on the 22 May at the Stand de tir de Balard.

On 1 June 1943 in a spontaneous attack, Elek threw two grenades into a group of 70 Germans in front of the Jaurès metro station. His courageous attitude earned him a promotion, and he was named head of the group at the centre of 4th detachement of the FTP-MOI Paris region known as "des dérailleurs" and commanded by Joseph Boczov.

Elek participated in several derailments, notably that of the night of 28 July on the Paris-Château-Thierry line. This derailment is stated to have caused the death of six hundred German soldiers [1].

Elek was arrested and tortured by the Brigades Spéciales and was handed over to the Germans and detained in Fresnes Prison. All but one of the group were condemned to death in a show trial and shot three days later at Mont Valérien.

Legacy

He is portrayed by actor Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet in the 2009 French film The Army of Crime directed by Robert Guédiguian.

See also

Bibliography

  • FFI - FTPF, Pages de gloire des vingt-trois, Immigration, 1951.
  • La Mémoire d'Hélène (autobiographie d'Hélène Elek), éd François Maspéro, 1977
  • Les Jeunes et la Résistance, dir. Laurence Thibault, AERI/La Documentation Française, 2007
  • L'Affiche rouge, Adam Rayski, Mairie de Paris, 2003
  • La Résistance en Ile-de-France, DVD-Rom, AERI, 2004
  • Le Sang de l'étranger - Les immigrés de la M.O.I. dans la Résistance, S. Courtois, D. Peschanski, A. Rayski, Fayard, 1989

References

External links


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