Joseph Joanovici arrived in Paris in 1927 after both his parents were murdered in the pogrom in Kishinev. Not knowing a word of French, he arrived in the City of Lights with just the clothes on his back. Against all odds, by the time the Germans had invaded France in 1940, Joanovici had become the one of the wealthiest men in the country. Although a Jew, he convinced the Nazis that it would be to their benefit to work with him and became the biggest supplier of their war machine. This business arrangement made him a billionaire and he secretly used this money to finance the movements of the French Underground, saving over 1,500 Jews.
After the war, he was tried and convicted as a war criminal in Paris. He fled to Israel where he was denied entry by then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. With nowhere else to turn, Joanovici returned to France where he died penniless, in 1965.