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Gamzon, Robert


GAMZON, ROBERT (1905–1961), French Jewish leader. In 1923 he helped to found the Eclaireurs Israélites de France (eif), which was to become the most popular Jewish youth movement in France and in North Africa. Gamzon gave a broad interest to the eif movement which attracted Jews from a wide range of backgrounds and ideologies.

During World War ii Gamzon served as a communications officer in the Fourth French Army from 1939 to 1940. After the armistice of June 1940, he reestablished the eif framework in the towns in southern France where Jewish refugees had gathered. In Algeria he worked to open homes for children, handicraft centers, and rural work camps in order to provide an educational framework for Jewish youth. In 1942 Gamzon created "La Sixième," a clandestine escape network manufacturing false identity papers and taking children and teenagers to safety in Spain or Switzerland by illegal means. In December 1943 he set up a Jewish underground movement in the Tarn area with youth from rural work camps and veteran members of eif and played a major role in the unification of Jewish resistance groups in France. In June 1944 his group, now a full-fledged military unit, was incorporated in the Free French Army as the Marc Haguenau Company. As area commandant, Gamzon received and assisted Allied specialists in sabotage who parachuted into his zone and set up ambushes against German convoys. On August 19, 1944, the eif company seized a whole armored convoy and two days later liberated the towns of Castres and Mazamet.

After the war, in 1947, he established a school for community workers in a Parisian suburb. In 1949, he immigrated to Israel at the head of a group of 50 eif veterans. In Israel Gamzon, an electro-acoustical engineer by profession, worked as laboratory head at the Weizmann Institute where he invented an isophase loudspeaker used by manufacturers of high fidelity musical instruments. He met his death by accidental drowning.

Gamzon wrote an essay on Jewish thought, Tivliout, published in 1945 in Paris, and his wartime journal, Les Eaux Claires, Journal 1940–1944 (1982).

[Lucien Lazare]

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