Georgette Barouch

"My mother believed in peace, “Shalom.”  She always wanted peace between people.  She always believed in Shalom.  She knew that people are people but she believed and always hoped for peace. "

Name at birth
Georgette Zeitoun
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Name of father, occupation
Victor Zeitoun, Crystal chandelier and lamp business, dental practice
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Hannah, Ran the family business, was a strong personality, the family “Golda Meir”
Immediate family (names, birth order)
My parents and twelve children
How many in entire extended family?
Large extended family
Who survived the Holocaust?
My parents and nine children: Maurice, myself, Esther (Therese), Roger, Monette, Robert, Claude, Milo and Janette
My parents, Victor and Hannah Zeitoun, were married when my mother was 17 or 18.  They had twelve children of which nine survived.  My father and mother were prominent in the Jewish community in Tunis frequently hosting rabbis and representatives from Jewish agencies from abroad.   

During World War II, as the economy deteriorated, my father’s business worsened.  My mother, Hannah, wanted to leave Tunisia for Palestine.  She was an ardent Zionist and believed in Israel.  After the war ended, my mother made arrangements and left with the youngest children for Marseilles and then onto Israel.  My father however wanted to stay in Tunis to continue in his business - making chandeliers and lamps from Italian crystal and was very successful.

During World War II, conditions worsened, the Germans bombed Tunis.  My family fled to safety to the basement of the cathedral in Tunis.  We slept many nights there.  When the bombing stopped, my father and my grandfather (my mother’s father) tried to escape to a different area of Tunisia.  The Germans stopped us and took our possessions.  

Jews were taken to labor camps; if they resisted, they were beaten.  My uncle, Milo, was severely beaten in the head and suffers to this day from that beating.  The Germans wanted him to do forced labor that he resisted doing.   The Germans were building labor camps.  These were very, very hard times, there was little food; Jews were beaten and robbed by the Germans of their possessions. 

British and American troops came and drove the Germans out of Tunisia.  My family became friends with two Jewish soldiers who we would invite over for Shabbat (Sabbath) meals, a British soldier, William and an American soldier, Samuel.  

When the war ended, my mother left for Israel with the youngest children.  Money and possessions did not mean any thing to her anymore; she wanted to live in the Jewish state of Israel.     
My mother and the four youngest children, who she brought over, settled in Netanya, Israel.  They were pioneers; lived in tents with no running water.  However she would always say, thank G-d, I live in Israel.

My father still lived in Tunis and ran his business; sent packages of food and clothes for the children.  Conditions became better in Israel, however, they faced wars.  In 1956, Tunisia became independent and was no longer a French colony.  The Tunisian Jews, because they were thought to be allied with Israel, were told to leave.  The French in turn were not welcoming to Tunisians leaving Tunisia for France.  My family was told to leave suddenly and was only allowed to take about $200 with them.  My mother had begged my father to invest in real estate in Paris, which he did.  He was however swindled by a lawyer that he knew there.  My father was a well to do and prominent man in Tunis, in Paris, however he had no job and no one knew him.  He had been orphaned as a child and became a wealthy, self-made man in Tunis but was devastated by the change in his life in Paris. In 1968, he suffered a stroke and passed away.  

One of my sisters married a man that she met in Israel who was from Detroit and moved there later on.  From time to time, I would visit them in Detroit from Paris.   I married a Jewish man from Detroit as well.
When did you come to the United States?
Where did you settle?
Detroit, Michigan
How is it that you came to Michigan?
My mother moved from Paris to Detroit to be near her daughters.
Occupation after the war
Jacques Barouch, Owned a warehouse, made crystal chandeliers and lamps. He would buy the parts in Milano and made the most unique and beautiful lamps.
Sidney, Andre, Hubert, and Yolande
Eleven grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren
What do you think helped you to survive?
My family fled to safety to the basement of the cathedral in Tunis. Her faith in G-d. No matter what, my mother always thanked G-d. My mother would always say we have a nice family, we’re together, and we have a good Sephardic family. That got her through everything. She knew what it was like to have money and I also knew how to live with hardship too.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
My mother believed in peace, “Shalom.”  She always wanted peace between people.  She always believed in Shalom.  She knew that people are people but she believed and always hoped for peace. 
Biography given by Georgette Barouch’s daughter, Yolande Jannett
Interview place:
Southfield, Michigan
Interview date:


Survivor's map

Contact us

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to our email newsletter to receive updates on the latest news

thank you!

Your application is successfuly submited. We will contact you as soon as possible

thank you!

Your application is successfuly submited. Check your inbox for future updates.