My parents

I was born April 8, 1924 in St Arnuald, a parish on the outskirts of Sarrebrück, in the Sarre region that was then a part of France.

My parents lived in Le Locle, Switzerland where my father was head of the wind band. My mother, Wilhelmine, the 10th of 11 children, went back to give birth to me in the old family home, where my grandmother Elisabeth Siegel (born Neubauer) originally from Sarre-Union in Alsace, was still living. She was a widow, her husband, an ironworker for the railway, having been accidentally killed in the 1914-1918 war.

My parents met in St Arnuald, where my mother was working for a blind brush maker, with whom my father, a timpani player at the Sarrebrück theatre, was staying. My mother had a pretty voice, very true. She sang in the choir at the old school church, and often in the evenings she and her brothers and sisters would sing together in front of the family home. At the time, it was rare to hear music and passersby always came over to listen. My father, Jean, was completely charmed, by the music and by my mother's naïve admiration of him. They were married on April 21, 1923 in St Arnuald.

Jean Back, 1925-26
Wilhelmine Siegel (left) with one of her sisters. ca.1915
Elisabeth Siegel and her grandson Frédéric Back 1924
Jean, Wilhelmine and Frédéric Back, and their cat Tupftiger 1924
Family home at St Arnuald ca.1920
St Arnuald 1920-30