French swimmer explains Hebrew tattoo as a family tribute
August 2, 2012
-- French Olympic swimmer Fabien Gilot said the Hebrew tattoo on his
left arm is a tribute to his late grandmother’s husband, a Jewish
survivor of Auschwitz.
Gilot, who is not Jewish, said the tattoo
is dedicated to his family and honors Max Goldschmidt, who has been a
large influence in the Olympic champion’s life, Ynet reported. The
tattoo says “I’m nothing without them.”
He revealed the tattoo,
which is on the inside of his left arm, after exiting the pool following
his team's gold medal-winning performance this week in the 4x100-meter
freestyle relay in London. It created a stir in Israel and around the
The swimmer has previously discussed his tattoos in the
French media, claiming "they all have a meaning for me.” He noted that
“I have the Olympic rings, a sentence in Hebrew that means ‘I am nothing
without them’ for my family and three stars -- one for each of my
Keep up with JTA's comprehensive coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.
– When French swimmer Fabien Gilot took to the swimming pool at the
London 2012 Olympic Games this week, one person was in Gilot's thoughts
as shown by the tattoo on his left arm which read: "I am nothing without
them," in Hebrew.
The man behind the tattoo is Gilot's
grandmother's husband, Max Goldschmidt, a Holocaust survivor who
witnessed the horrors of Auschwitz and became one of the most
influential people in the Olympic champion's life.
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who together with his teammates brought France a historic gold medal in
the 4X100 freestyle relay, created quite a stir in Israel and around
the world when his Hebrew tattoo was discovered.
The swimmer has
previously discusses his tattoos in the French media, claiming "they all
have a meaning for me," and adding: "I have the Olympic rings, a
sentence in Hebrew that means 'I am nothing without them' for my family
and three stars – one for each of my brothers."
Fabien Gilot and his Hebrew tattoo tribute (Photo: Reuters)
Monday his proud father Michel Gilot said that Fabien chose to express
his feelings towards his family in Hebrew as a gesture to honor Max
Goldschmidt, his maternal grandmother's partner who was "a grandfather
in every way."
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was a Jew who survived the Holocaust and Auschwitz," said Gilot senior.
He added: "He was born in Berlin and moved to France after the war, in
Fabien's eyes he was a hero. He admired him and was very attached to
Max passed away this year but Michel said that he got to
see his grandson's tattoo and his impressive achievements in the
swimming arena, all except his Olympic gold.
Michel and Yveline did not travel to London to cheer Fabien on in
person, but they watched their son's Olympic feats from their home, not
far from the Belgian border.
When he returns to
France on August 18, the family is planning a hero's welcome. Meanwhile,
Fabien's 2012 Olympic trials are not over just yet – on Tuesday he will
attempt to make it to the Olympic podium yet again, when he competes in
the 100 meter freestyle.