Person:Marcel Baum (1)

Marcel Baum, Bakery/Deli Professional & Holocaust Survivor
b.16 March 1924 Kreuznach, Germany
d.13 August 2014 Orange County, California
m. 1922
  1. Alexander 'Alex' BaumAbt 1923 - 2015
  2. Marcel Baum, Bakery/Deli Professional & Holocaust Survivor1924 - 2014
  • HMarcel Baum, Bakery/Deli Professional & Holocaust Survivor1924 - 2014
  • WRuth Silvia Lorig1928 - 2016
m. 1 January 1950
Facts and Events
Name Marcel Baum, Bakery/Deli Professional & Holocaust Survivor
Gender Male
Birth? 16 March 1924 Kreuznach, Germany
Marriage License 12 December 1949 Cook County, Illinoisto Ruth Silvia Lorig
Marriage 1 January 1950 Chicago, Cook County, Illinois[Date from Marriage Certificate]
to Ruth Silvia Lorig
Death? 13 August 2014 Orange County, California

About Marcel Baum

Marcel Baum was born 16 March 1924 in Kreuznach, Germany, the son of Moritz Baum (1892-1925) and Lucienne "Laure" Lippman (1900-1986). Marcel grew up in Laufersweiler, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, in the town where his father owned and operated a local bakery. Marcel's father Moritz Baum passed away a few months after Marcel's first birthday, and he was raised by Isidore Joseph (1897-1971), who married his mother Laure in 1929. According to Marcel Baum, Isidore Joseph treated Marcel and his brother Alex "like his own children" and provided love and support to both during their upbringing.

Growing up in Germany

Marcel's family lived in Germany until June 1938, as going to school in Laufersweiler became extremely hazardous for the Jews in the village and all of Nazi Germany during those times. There were daily skirmishes between the Jewish school children and the "Hitler Youths", and a Nazi declared boycott that forbade Germans from doing business with any Jewish Merchants made life untenable for his family, so Marcel and most of his family, except for his parents, re-located to Vic-Sur-Seille, France. Marcel's parents had planned to join the rest of the family in France; however, his father's work was not completed on time, and they were still in Germany when they endured the infamous "Kristallnacht" or "Crystal Night", a series of coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Germany on 9-10 November 1938, which led to the murder of hundreds of Jews, the destruction of their homes and belongings and over 30,000 arrests and incarcerations of Jews in Nazi Concentration Camps, signaling an increase of overt hostilities towards Jews in Germany. Marcel's step-father was among those taken and incarcerated for ten days, but he was released because he was an invalid from the first World War.

Fleeing to France

Finally, in December of 1938, his parents were able to join the family in France. In July of 1938, Marcel became an apprentice in a Bakery Shop in Vic-Sur-Seille, France and worked for a Mr. Jueness until 1941. The last two years, Marcel had the sole responsibility of running the Bakery Shop, as Mr. Jueness had been called to serve in the French Army in 1939 when war was declared between Germany and Poland. In 1941, Hitler's Nazi forces entered France and Marcel quickly headed to Limoges, France, where his parents had gone into hiding. Marcel was in Paris two days before the German army marched into the city, later Marcel referred to it as "France's darkest day". With thousands of other French citizens and emigrants fleeing ahead of the German forces trying to escape, Marcel was able to buy a bicycle and some food which enabled him to get to Limoges and meet his parents.

From August 1941 until June 1942, Marcel again found work as a baker for Mr. P. Beyrand at his bakery at 58 Rue Francois Chenieux in Limoges. His parents found refuge in nearby Bonnac-la-Côte, Haute Vienne, during the same time period. Marcel made friends with the family of two sisters, Angel and Mathilde Gabiron, who were active in the "French Underground Resistance". He had plans on also joining the Underground, but those plans were never fulfilled, as the Nazi forces in France were looking for and rounding up all German Jews and sending them back to Germany to Concentration or Extermination Camps.

Marcel went into hiding with the Gabiron family's assistance, and his parents were able to stay with the Sennamo family, who were cousins of the Gabiron's. Mr. Sennamo was able to provide false identification cards, changing their surname from "Baum" to "Baumont", showing they were born in Algiers, Africa. In January of 1943, Marcel and his brother Alex became very restless and heard that their Uncles Andre and George Lippman had left France to join the French Army in Morocco, and later sought safe refuge at the French Consul in Spain. With the help of some guides that were helping people across the frontier into Spain, they decided to also make the journey, but when they crossed the border the following day around five in the morning, they were arrested by the Spanish Police in the village of Candanchu, held over-night in Jail and sent back to the French border, where Nazi German soldiers were waiting for them. They were taken directly to the S.S. Headquarters and interrogated as to why they were leaving France and whether they were of Jewish ancestry. Marcel's brother Alex was interrogated first and told by the interrogator to strip his trousers to check for circumsicion. When he was asked why he had been circumcised, he told the interrogators that is was the "custom in Algiers for all males to be circumcised". Even though both Alex and Marcel stuck to their story, they were thrown in to prison for three weeks, where Marcel came down with a case of jaundice, from which he eventually recovered.

Life in Nazi Concentration Camps

After spending several weeks in jail in Bordeaux, France, they were transported to a camp near Paris where Marcel wrote a quick note, telling that he and his brother were being transported to Germany, and tied it around a stone, throwing it into a nearby yard, addressed to their friends in Bonnac-la-Côte. Evidently someone found it and sent it to the Senamo family, where they learned of the boy's situation. Marcel and Alex Baum arrived at "Camp Buchenwald", near Weimar, Germany, at the end of April, 1943. Upon their arrival, they were shaven from top to bottom of all body hair, and "disinfected for lice" by their German captors.

At the beginning of May, 1943, Marcel, his brother Alex and five hundred other prisoners were sent to Peenemünde, where they worked in a newly-built factory that was being used to assemble the "V-2" Rocket, the world's first long-range ballistic missle, designed to attack Allied cities as retaliation for the ever-increasing Allied bombings against German cities. The V-2 program was headed up by the young German scientist Wemher Von Braun, who directed the program. Shortly after their arrival, the factory was bombed by British planes and was demolished above their sleeping quarters around one in the morning. After dismantling the remaining equipment and loading it onto boxcars, they were sent back to Buchenwald for a week. Afterwards, they were sent to "Camp Dora", where the Germans had moved the V-2 production facilities to underground facilities and mountain tunnels, where the rockets were assembled at the new secret location. Approximately one thousand male prisoners were sent to Camp Dora every two weeks, sent to replace the many prisoners that died from the damp, cold environment. They were under constant watch from the S.S. guards, making sure that the prisoners did not slack from their duties.

The prisoners were identified by emblems (badges) of color, country of origin and their identification numbers. Pink emblems were used for homosexuals, green for high-risk German criminals, black for German Army deserters, red for all foreigners with the initial of their country and a "yellow star" was used to indentify those of Jewish heritage. Marcel's identification uniform badge was a triangle with an "F" for France with identification #22886, and he and his brother Alex were lucky to have survived. After the war, Marcel was given a small emblem by the French Government, a triangle with the number 178524, indicating that he had done service for the French.

Being young and healthy, Marcel and his brother Alex were lucky to have survived two and one-half years working at Camp Dora. Marcel served as an interpreter during his incarceration as well as on the assembly-line putting together the wiring for the control panel of the V-2 Rockets. As Marcel explained later in his memoirs, "many a wire was put together incorrectly by the workers, [later] causing the rocket not to reach its intended direction", an act of sabbotage that undoubtedly saved many allied lives in England and other intended targets of the Nazi's. Marcel "was sure that if Hitler did not use the [prisoners] who were not always skilled [in] the use of the V-2 Rockets, [they] would have done much more intensive damage to England during the war."

Marcel recounted the following nightly atrocities by tne Nazi's at Camp Dora:

"In the evening, when we were called to assemble, the Germans would single out about ten prisoners that they suspected, [and] were hung in front of us to intimidate us from acts of treason. We were not afraid, after all, we did not have much to lose... After the American's landed in Europe, it became even more unbearable to work. Details are really too dificult for me to write down on paper."

The End of World War II

In April 1945, the advancement of the American, English and Russian armies made the Germans more furious and desperate. Marcel and Alex Baum were loaded into rail cars and were in-route to be shipped to Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, where tens of thousands of prisoners were murdered or died during their incarceration by the Nazi's. [Note: Bergen-Belson was liberated by the allied armies on April 15, 1945]. After several days of travel in the rail cars, the train suddenly stopped during the night and the prisoners were let out. Their German captors aware of the advancing allied armies fled and left the prisoners to fend for themselves. Marcel and Alex stopped at a nearby farm in Neustad, Germany on the Elbe River and asked if they had any clothing that the two boys could have, and the family was more than happy to help as they were aware that the war was near an end. That very same day on June 6 1945, Marcel and Alex were walking on the river's edge when they came across American, British and French soldiers approaching a bridge. As they approached, the retreating German soldiers immediately threw down their arms and surrendered.

Marcel, Alex and five other ex-prisoners kept walking for several miles until they reached the town of Pirma, when they came across the allied armies (French, American and British) with their three nation's flags waving overhead, and according to Marcel in his memoirs:

"all seven of us had tears in our eyes. These were tears of joy and freedom. We approached the French Army Corps where we received much needed food and lodging and the following day arrangements were made to return us to France. We received a paper known as a "fisch" with our name on it giving us permission to travel to our destination. We were unable to contact our family and we did not know where they were; however, we took a chance and returned to Limoges. We just had a feeling that we might find them there. My poor mother went daily to the railroad station to ask anyone that came off the trains that looked like they had come from a camp if they had seen her two sons. She showed them our photos. One person said yes, he had seen us and we would soon be home. Finally on June 12, 1945, we were reunited with our parents and sister. She had been hidden in a convent school during the war years. We had much to be grateful for and celebrate. Many families had lost all and others were reunited."

Although Marcel and his immediate family managed to survive the Holocaust, his aunt Sophie Baum and her husband Adolph Kallman were not as lucky, as they were both murdered, along with their three young children by the Nazi's during the Holocaust. Also listed among the Holocaust victims was Marcel's great uncle [through his step-father] Max Joseph, who perished at the beginning of the war in September 1942.

After the War

Some weeks later, Marcel's entire family decided to return to Vic-Sur-Seille, France. His grandparents and uncles had arrived there earlier, and Marcel's mother and father rented an apartment for the five of them there. Unfortunately, it was difficult for them to find work because they were still German nationls, but Marcel found work as a baker once again and his parents and brother began a small business by selling fabrics to the housewives in the area, so they could make dresses and other necessities. The family applied for French citizenship, but never heard from the government, so with the help of their cousins in Chicago, they applied for emigration to America at the American Consul in Paris in January, 1947. Just three months later, on April 1, 1947, they set sail for America. Their parents followed them two years later and made it also to America in May, 1949. Prior to their journey, Marcel's uncle Andre gave him a $5 bill and asked Marcel to never use it unless he was in dire hunger or need. Marcel kept that bill as a keepsake and remembrance of his uncle and kept it throughout his life.

Marcel and Alex sailed on the ship "S.S. America", and arrived in New York harbor on April 5, 1947, where they were greeted by some of their family. They stayed in New York for about a week before leaving for Chicago, their final destination, where arrangements were made for them to stay at a place for room and board at $20 per week. Marcel made his living again as a baker and his brother Alex as a butcher. After a year, they moved into a place of their own and shared the expenses equally. Six months later, Marcel and Alex applied for papers to have their sister and parents join them in America, and in 1949, that dream of being re-united was fulfilled. The family shared an appartment until they could find larger quarters, and according to Marcel, "they all lived and worked together to help their parents get back on their feet".

Finding Love

Marcel met his wife Ruth L. Lorig, in April 1947 shortly after he arrived in America. Ruth was born 4 January 1928 in Germany, the daughter of Isidor Lorig and Lina Lieb. His cousins introduced the two and it began their love affair of over 67 years. They dated, went to the movies, to Montrose beach or to picnics with friends. After Marcel's mother and step-father arrived in 1949, Marcel and Ruth were married on 1 January 1950 in Chicago, Illinois. They had three sons: Morris, born 24 April 1951 in Chicago; Allan, born 29 September 1952 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin; and James, born 14 May 1960 in Waukegan, Illinois.

In order to provide for his family, Marcel moved his family from Chicago to Sheboygan, Wisconsin to open up a Bakery Shop, but the business did not prove to be successful. The family moved back to Chicago with Marcel's parents and for a short while he took work in a local meat slaughterhouse and learned the meat business as a deliveryman and later working inside the plant. In September 1955, they moved to Waukegan, Illinois and Marcel became a partner with his sister Alice and her husband Henri Hanau in a kosher deli and butcher shop, which included a small kosher restaurant and delicatessan. Marcel, his wife, half-sister Alice and her husband Henri all worked long hours and very hard to make it successful. Henri and Marcel were the cooks, butchers and also made deliveries in Waukegan and surrounding areas, sometimes working around the clock to sell their products. The partnership worked for a while, but as the sales were not enough to support both families, Marcel and Ruth had to look for another way to support their family.

Move to California

In June 1961, the family went on a short two-week vacation with their two older sons (Morris and Allan) to visit Ruth's sister Margaret in California. While there, they were impressed with the warm climate, mountains and desert, and decided to make California their new home. Ruth went back to Waukegan to get their furniture and other necessities together and Marcel joined her to pick up their baby son James, who was just thirteen months old, and give the rest of their family a fond fairwell before their journey west.

Marcel found work initially at Schlafer's Deli in Los Angeles. Shortly thereafter in the mid-1960's, he began his career in the supermarket industry in Southern California in the mid-1960's, working for Food Giant stores, managing the service deli department in their Lynwood store and as their Service Deli Supervisor. He spent much time supervising the operation of Food Giant's Service Deli in the Torrance Location, which included the full-service restaurant the "Magic Chef. [Note: Food Giant was acquired later by Smith's Food King, who converted the stores to their format. The Food Giant Torrance location would later be acquired by Ralphs Grocery and become it's "Villa Grande" Torrance location].

In about 1969, Marcel was recruited by Ralph Liebman, Vice President of Ralphs Grocery Company, to help convert its in-store "snack bars" into "service delis" with a full selection of prepared foods, cheeses, lunchmeats and salads. This proved to be a very successful transition for Ralphs, improving sales and profits for its newly-created Service Deli division in the 1970's. Marcel served as Ralphs Service Deli Merchandiser, and was known for his extensive knowledge of all service deli products and for his merchandising expertise and attractive displays to improve sales in the Ralphs Service Deli's. He worked for Ralphs for nearly 20 years, where he eventually retired in 1989 after a very successful career in the food industry.

Return to Laufersweiler

In June 1994, Marcel Baum, wife Ruth, half-sister Alice and her cousin Henri traveled back to Laufersweiler at the invitation of Mr. Hans Werner Johann for a dedication of the synagogue as a memorial to the Holocaust survivors. Although being very apprehensive about going back, Marcel, Ruth, Alice and Henri met with members several other Laufersweiler family members that survived the Holocaust, many that they had not seen since the war of when leaving Laufersweiler in 1938. Their visit included several ceremonies paying tribute to those who perished at the hands of the Nazi's, including one held in the Catholic church which was celebrated by Catholics, Protestants and Jews together for the first time in the history of Laufersweiler. It was officiated by a Catholic priest, Protestant minister and Jewish rabbi, and included speeches of forgiveness and building a better understanding of people with different beliefs.

At one of the meetings, Marcel Baum spoke of his experiences in the Buchenwald Nazi Concentration Camp and life during the Holocaust. It was the first time that he had told his story in public, and thoughout the speeches of survival, darkness and resiliency given by him and others there were tears and memories that came flooding back to many of the attendees. For many of the survivors, their eight-day visit provided a time to vent, to reminisce, to cry, to possibly forgive those that were apathetic and to hope for better things to come for future generations.

Shoah Foundation Testimony

On October 19, 1995, Marcel Baum provided testimony to the USC Shoah Foundation detailing his experiences as a Jewish survivor during the Holocaust. The USC Shoah Foundation was founded by Academy Award Winning Producer/Director Stephen Spielberg shortly after Spielberg's critically-acclaimed 1993 film Schindler's List. Marcel Baum's video testimony may be viewed at any of the USC Shoah Foundation's Visual History Archive locations.


Marcel Baum passed away peacefully with family on 13 August 2014 in Orange County, California, at age 90. He left his wife Ruth, three sons and eight grandchildren, and will be remembered for his integrity, kindness, love of life and of his family. As a survivor of the Holocaust, he was a witness to unspeakable acts of terror, but thoughout his life maintained a gentle demeanor and kind spirit. Marcel was a good provider for his family and made sure that his three sons were properly educated, giving them a good upbringing and example of how to treat others with kindness and respect. Marcel did not forget the terrible things that he had witnessed and endured in his younger years, but he truly cherished the good things that happened to him later in life, which is shown in the last paragraph of his memoirs:

"Life in California has been very good to us as well as our entire family. Our three sons are now married and have given us eight delightful grandchildren; six grandsons and two granddaughters. No one could be more blessed... I can truly state that America has been very good to me and my entire family."


Memoirs of Marcel Baum records
Family papers of Marcel Baum
Alice Joseph's account of 1994 visit to Laufersweiler, Germany
USC Shoah Foundation
Image Gallery
  1.   The News Sun - (Waukegan, Illinois)
    21 April 2001.

    Alice Hanau of Waukegan. Alice and her late husband Henri participated in a videotaped interview of their experiences during the Holocaust for the Shoah Foundation. The videotape will be shown to the public at 3 p.m. Sunday at Congregation Am Echod in Waukegan. -- Holocaust survivors (front row, left to right) Henry Joseph, Alice's cousin; Alice Joseph and Henri Hanau. (Back row, left to right) Alex Baum, Alice's brother; Roger Herman, a friend; and Marcel Baum, Alice's brother. Photo was taken in Vic Sur Seille, France, in late 1946 or early 1947. -- Henri's French identity cards, stamped `Jew' in French. -- A teen-age Henri Hanau, in Germany in the 1930s. -- Pre-war photo taken in Germany of Henri Hanau (right), with his sister Gertrude and father Albert, who both died in the Holocaust.

  2.   National Archives and Records Administration. New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. (Washington, D. C.: National Archives and Records Administration).

    Name: Marcel Baum
    Arrival Date: 4 Apr 1947
    Birth Date: abt 1924
    Birth Location: Germany
    Birth Location Other: kzeuzanch
    Age: 23
    Gender: Male
    Ethnicity/ Nationality: German
    Port of Departure: Cherbourg, France
    Port of Arrival: New York, New York
    Ship Name: America

    Image:Ship Passenger List Marcel & Alex Baum 1947 S.S. America.gif

    Image:Ship Passenger List Marcel & Alex Baum 1947 S.S. America Closeup.gif