RELIGION

The Touching Story Behind This French Olympian's Tattoo

Fabien Gilot's grandpa survived the Holocaust. Now every race is a chance to honor his memory.
Fabien Gilot of France competes in the heats of the men's 4x100m freestyle relay event at the Olympic Aquatic Stadium during
Fabien Gilot of France competes in the heats of the men's 4x100m freestyle relay event at the Olympic Aquatic Stadium during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Fabien Gilot is a professional swimmer who has been part of France’s Olympic team since 2004. With one gold and two silver Olympic medals under his belt, including a silver medal for the Men’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay he picked up in Brazil this week, Gilot is certainly a hero in the eyes of his country.

The 32-year-old has made it clear that he will never forget the legacy of his own personal hero ― his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor.

Whenever Gilot raises his arm in victory after a big win, he shares the memory of his grandfather with the world. On his left arm, the swimmer has a tattoo in Hebrew that reads, “Ani Klum Biladeihem” (אני כלום בלעדיהם) meaning “I am nothing without them.”

Gilot's tattoo can be seen in this photo from the 32nd LEN European swimming championships on August 18, 2014 in Berlin.
Gilot's tattoo can be seen in this photo from the 32nd LEN European swimming championships on August 18, 2014 in Berlin.

Gilot’s grandpa is Max Goldschmidt, a Jewish man who grew up in Berlin, Germany and survived the horrors of Auschwitz during World War II. After the war, Goldschmidt reportedly moved to France and fell in love with Gilot’s grandmother, becoming her second husband

In an interview with Ynet News after the 2012 London Olympics, the swimmer’s dad Michel Gilot said that Goldschmidt was his son’s “grandfather in every way.” 

“In Fabien’s eyes he was a hero. He admired him and was very attached to him,” the elder Gilot said in the interview. 

Goldschmit passed away in 2012, before he could witness his grandson winning the gold medal that year as part of France’s 4x100 freestyle relay team.

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