Monday, June 7, 2010

Nazi Hunters continued

Well, continuing with the Klarsfelds hit a stumbling block as my hard drive died. A painful drawn out death - a reaction to the heat in NY, the British trains or French voltage...who knows. But the photos I wanted to post are in process, crossing fingers, of data recovery. Beth mentioned in her comment about Beate Klarsfeld's role in Klaus Barbie's extradition and case.

I'll have more on that but Monsieur Klarsfeld also graciously introduced me to Annette Zaidman, a woman who's the general secretary and on the board of L'Association des fils et filles des déportes Juifs de France since 1979 who he knew would have the DVD of Terroristes en Retraite - Terrorists in Retirement. A hard to come by film that was banned by French Television and took years before it was shown. I'd seen portions of it on French TV...was mesmerized about this little know story and glad my friend Sarah's father had made a VHS copy. Well, that VHS tape died, yes we still have old machines in our house, and I seem to be talking about the death of machines a lot, but now armed with introduction and her phone number from Monsieur Klarsfeld I made a date. She was busy, oh so busy as French people always are or getting bronzage on the Cote d'Azur...never in between.

But lo and behold the egg on my face when I sipped coffee at her spotless apartment and she told me yes, quite busy as she was gtting the Chevalier d'honneur medal next week with Monsieur Klarsfeld in attendance at the Mairie in the 11th arrondissement. She'd lived nearby since she was a child and her parents were taken during the war. And would I come? A ceremony in honor of all her work in establishing the organization and her tireless effort on behalf of young children orphaned, like herself, during the round ups.
Did I want to move heaven, change the Eurostar reservations and delay the British library tour...yes, but I couldn't. I'm forever honored at the inviatation. And the gift of her book...Mémoire d'une enfance volée Memoirs of a stolen childhood.
Cara - Tuesday


  1. "Terrorists in retirement" - what a concept. They get to spend their final days in the warmth of South America, watching their grandchildren and great-grandchildren play in the sun. It would be cruel and unusual punishment for them to have to think of the children left behind in France, the last image of their parents being one in which the parents were herded toward cattle cars on their way to re-location in work camps in Poland.

    Why, so long after the war, was French television refusing to show the film? I realize that 60 years is as nothing in terms of the suffering of the Jews, and any group who defied the Germans, but does anyone still remember the identities of the collaborators who made the work go smoothly for the SS? I would think they would have disappeared into vastly different lives than they had before and during the Occupation so they wouldn't be recognized.

    If only as many who claimed to be in the Resistance after the war actually had been in it when they were needed. If only those who denied being collaborators actually had not been willing to sell their souls and their country. There might not have been so many stories about the children of the deported (a much better word than murdered) Jews.

    The courage and strength the parents were able to instill in their children when they were so young would make a worthwhile subject for a documentary. To live with the knowledge of what happened to their parents and survive what must have been some degree of guilt, is extraordinary. We would all learn so much.


  2. I remember watching Sophie-s Choice many years ago and being so badly affected by the realisation towards the end regarding the title of the movie that the hairs on my arms still rise at the thought. One hopes the world has learned and that such atrocities will never, ever, ever be repeated but even that scenario cannot even begin to justify the untold individual tragedies and horrors that took place. My English is not good enough for me to find a word regarding the admiration due to those that had the spine to not look the other way.