Hands belong to daughter Sylvie Hepner.
Born March 8, 1910 | Zelechow, Poland
Died January 5, 1955 | Nancy, France
In spite of suffering loss and trauma, Zali maintained his sense of humour and joie de vivre.
Zali was the second youngest of eight siblings—five sisters and three brothers—born to Aron and Ester Hepner, who maintained a Jewishly observant household in Zelechow, Poland. Fearing the rising tide of antisemitism, four of Zali’s siblings left Poland in the 1920s, immigrating to France. In 1936, Zali joined them, settling in Nancy. Two years later, he married Estelle Rowek, and they lived comfortably until 1940 when the Nazis invaded France. Zali joined a military unit of Polish expats to fight the Nazis, but they disbanded as the roundup of Jews began. At work when the Nazis came for Estelle and her parents, Zali soon went into hiding in various locations in Southern France, never staying long, so as to evade the Nazis.
When France was liberated in 1944, Zali was horrified to learn that Estelle and her parents had been murdered at Auschwitz and that his parents, siblings and extended family that had remained in Poland also perished at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators. Reconnecting with family and friends in Nancy, Zali—who loved to dress fashionably—established a business manufacturing men’s clothing. He married Anna Segal, also a survivor, in 1946, and they established a happy home for their two children, Alain and Sylvie. Zali loved music and had an extensive collection of Yiddish records. Their home was filled with laughter, friends, family and song. Sadly, Zali died at the age of 45, leaving his wife and children in great sorrow. Shortly after his passing, Anna and her children immigrated to Canada, settling in Calgary where Anna’s brother, Marcel Segal—also a Holocaust survivor—had previously settled. Zali’s posthumous legacy includes five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
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