Small archive of official documents, newspaper cuttings, photographs and manuscript material relating to his war experiences.

Gerard Guttman [ Algeria; Les Prestataires; Foreign Labour Company; British Expeditionary Force; Pioneer Corps; the Holocaust ]
Publication details: 
SKU: 3473

An extremely interesting and moving if frail survival: items of various sizes, many discoloured, creased, frayed and stained. The first item, 'THE HISTORY OF THE PRESTATAIRES IN ALGERIA. | Dedicated by one of them to the Major, recruiter of Pioneers for the 337 Alien Coy. in Hussein Dey.' (two typewritten A4 leaves, both backed with grey card), dated 'Kenadza, 28 February 1943', explains how 'Before June 1940 there were more than 3,000 of us who did our duty in the fight against the onslaught of the Axis. But later when a French Officer counted us in the harbour of Casablanca, there were only 128 of us who had escaped, by an exciting retreat, the invading German Armies.' Guttman and the survivors 'again asked to join the British Army, but the French Authorities, suspecting our request as disloyal to the new collaboration - France, speedily interned us in Camps.' On his liberation from Hadjerat M'Guil on 8 November 1942, Guttman joined the Pioneer Corps. Meanwhile his mother, whom he had not seen for eleven years, recognised him from a newsreel shown at a London cinema. Collection includes two photos (April 1943 and April 1948) of Guttman with his Major, F. M. Brister (second in command, 16 Group, Pioneer Corps). There are also two letters from Brister (10 March 1943, handwritten, one page, 16mo; 19 December 1953, typewritten, one page, 8vo, with cropped right-hand margin). In the second letter Brister mentions showing a letter of Guttman's to Lord Reading and to Harold MacMillan ('Both, as you know of course were closely connected with us during the war perio') Also a typewritten French certificate of good conduct, signed by 'MONSIEUR Lambert', dated 16 April 1942, and stamped; photographic copies of two letters from Guttmann's mother (12 and 19 May 1943); typewritten 'CHANSON DES PRESTATAIRES'; letters in German and English; photographs of Guttman as a child, and in uniform, together with fragments of medal ribbon; several other official documents, mostly in French (1940-4); photographs, including one of Churchill in characteristic cigar-smoking victory-sign-making pose; some photographs from happier times, including girl in bathing costume on beach and picture of 'LIGHTS DURING THE 1936 CARNIVAL in NICE'; map of Dachau with two (1950's?) photographs, one of two ovens; a typewritten copy of a letter by [?] Riepp, dated 'Hadjerat M'Guil le 28/10/1942', reporting that 'Monsieur FINIDORI m'a déclaré devant la Compagnie ce qui suit: "Je te donne l'ordre de frapper et de massacrer en prison quiconque ne travaillerait pas ou ne marcherait pas comme il est prescrit. Je prends la responsabilité sur moi." At the end of this poignant archive one is relieved to join in the sentiment of Geoffrey Palmer of the YMCA, in a Typewritten Letter Signed (one page, quarto) of 12 May 1983: 'Despite all the dangers and hazards of your earlier life it seems that you have now found some happiness and tranquility - and I am glad of it.'