Richard Abel is a German Feldwebel belonging to the occupying forces of Tunisia in November 1942. He is most likely part of the 5. Fallschirmjäger Regiment and is stationed near Depienne (now Sminja). In early December 1942, an Italian resident at Enriquez's farm near Depienne saw five Jewish boys talking to an English reconnaissance unit. The Italian reports this to the Germans stationed nearby. The five boys: Louis Beretvas, André Bessis, Gilbert Bessis, Claude Enriquez and Yvan Enriquez, are captured by German Fallschirmjäger on 10 December 1942 and accused of espionage. The boys will be handed over to the SS. Abel knows what awaits the Jewish boys. Abel gains the trust of the prisoners and convinces them to flee towards the lines of the Allies. Abel helps them escape on December 12 and gives the boys food, a gun and a map showing the minefields. At Goubellat the boys meet two officers of the Irish Fusseliers and are safe. Later, Abel visits Louis Beretvas' parents in Tunis and tells them what happened to their son. He shows a note that Louis had written in a hurry. Beretvas' parents offer Abel a place to go into hiding. At the beginning of 1943, Abel went into hiding with the Jewish family in Tunis. In May 1943 Tunisia was liberated by the Allies. Abel decides to leave for Morocco. At the Martimprey border crossing, Abel is captured. He spent 18 months in captivity in Morocco, then a year and a half in the US and 18 months in Britain. In early 1948, Abel was released.
On January 2, 1969, Abel was awarded the "Righteous Among the Nations" award by the Israeli state institution Yad Vashem (file number M.31.2/510). On November 2, 1972, Richard Abel planted his tree during a ceremony at The World Holocaust Remenbrance Center in Jerusalem. Richard Abel dies on 20 May 2011 at the age of 94.
In 2018, the novel 'Piccola Sicilia' by the German writer Daniel Speck was published. The story is based on the events that took place in 1942 at Depienne in Tunisia.
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