Paternity test for concentration camp baby

14th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 14, 2007 (AFP) - One was a hero of the French Resistance, the other an orphaned baby in Buchenwald concentration camp. Both have the same name.

PARIS, March 14, 2007 (AFP) - One was a hero of the French Resistance, the other an orphaned baby in Buchenwald concentration camp. Both have the same name.

The older man made love in 1944 with a woman who was arrested by the Germans soon afterwards. The younger man was born to a French deportee nine months later. She then died.

More than 60 years after the event, Robert Nant and Robert Nant will soon know officially if they are father and son. Logic suggests that they must be, but DNA tests -- authorised last week -- would prove it.

And so far the pair have never even met.

The story began in the summer of 1944 when Nant senior, now aged 83, went into hiding at a house in the eastern French town of Villefranche-sur-Saone.

"There I met a girl. I didn't know her. She must have been some kind of liaison agent. That evening we slept in the same room. There were two beds -- but you know ... we were young," Nant senior said.

After the war Nant learned that the girl had been taken into deportation. Today he has difficulty recalling her. He thinks her name was Paulette or Georgette, and he knows she was pretty, with long blonde hair. But that is all.

Meanwhile a young man was growing up in a large foster family near the city of Lyon, where he was teased for being a "bastard."

In 1963, thanks to a social worker, Nant junior acquired his identity card and learned that he was born in Buchenwald in March 1945, and that his mother -- whose name he never found out -- died there.

Nant junior assumed his name must have meant something to his mother, but he did not know what. Then in 1975 he read a newspaper interview with Robert Nant senior, in which the Resistance member spoke of his wartime experience and encounters with the notorious French militia leader Paul Touvier.

"I realised then that we might be related. But I did not think he was my father -- an uncle or cousin perhaps," Nant junior told Liberation newspaper.

Nant junior immediately wrote to Nant senior, suggesting that perhaps they were members of the same family.

"It all came back to me straightaway. My affair with the woman, the way she was deported. It all fitted in," Nant senior said.

Nant senior, who lives in the eastern town of Chambery, travelled north to Nancy to find his putative son -- but he was not at the address given on the letter. The encounter never took place and for years both men forgot the initial contact.

Much later, prompted by his second wife, Nant senior employed a private detective who last year tracked down the younger man -- still living in Nancy and working as a maintenance engineer in a homeless shelter. Nant senior sent him a letter and the two men agreed to the blood test.

"Somehow I was expecting it. It wasn't news. I had been waiting for this for 40 years. After all I lived through when I was a boy, the teasing and all that -- I knew that those were not my parents and one day something would happen. Now it has," Nant junior said.

The results of the tests are due in the coming weeks. Nant senior has promised to recognise his paternity if the result is positive -- which would have implications for his inheritance. He has two daughters from his first wife.

So far no meeting is planned. Both men say it may take place if they find they are related. It would be a hugely emotional moment -- two men linked by the memory of an unknown young woman with long blond hair, who may have been called Paulette.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article