Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Nazi Hunters I have met

This is Serge Klarsfeld's desk in his office contained in his family apartment on rue de la Boetie in Paris. The apartment is less than two blocks away from the Ministry of Interior's infamous back entrance on rue des Saussais infamous for the torture cells used by the Gestapo and visible today the graffiti of tortured victims.

Here's Monsieur Klarsfeld who as an eight year old hiding with his family in Nice saw his father taken away. His father who hid the family behind a false panel to make sure only he was taken, never returned from Auschwitz. Serge's mother and sister survived.
I think he'd prefer to be known for his work finding and documenting the children and all who were taken during the Occupation.

Monsieur Klarsfeld's files. Graciously he met with me and fitting me in his busy schedule - he's a practicing attorney, husband and doting grandfather - provided me with historical documentation from his many files and his upcoming book further documenting those rounded up in Paris and deported. His information, sadly, comes from the Police Archives who inked in the Jews who were required to register with the Police.

His wife Beate Klarsfeld, born in Germany, who I spoke with on the phone is more well known perhaps as bringing Klaus Barbie, the butcher of Lyon - after ten years of extradition battles - back to France for trial.

"You have an amazing wife, Monsieur Klarsfeld," I said.

He nodded. "I know." Paused. "Today's the anniversary of when we met, years ago on the platform at Gare du Nord. Also..." He shook his head..."the day Eichmann was caught in South America."

Serge and Beate Klarsfeld are an amazing couple...more next Tuesday.

Cara - Tuesday


  1. The Klarsfelds are most certainly interesting. I remember when Klaus Barbie was put on trial. I also remember when they made public the war time record of Kurt Waldheim who had been an intelligence officer in the Wehrmacht. The information wasn't known when Waldheim was chosen as the fourth secretary-general of the UN. The Klarsfelds made the information known when, later, Waldheim ran for the office of president of Austria in 1985. The Klarsfelds information led to a great deal of controversy in the international press but it didn't stop the Austrians from electing Waldheim.

    I think they are only slightly less known than Simon Wiesenthal as Nazi catchers. I am looking forward to learning more.


  2. You've met a genuine hero. Fortunate you.

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  4. I quite like this blog's recent theme of highlighting heroes and other admirable figures. It's nice to be able to call something inspiring without blushing or rolling one's eyes. I won't complain if more of your colleagues make similar posts.
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    "Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"