My blog is usually about writing, literature, people, dignity, and philosophy.
So you will bear with me as I deviate from my normal humor and address one of of life’s unfinished horrors— France’s role in deporting 78,000 men, women, and children to death camps and its current reluctance to surrender to its role in these crimes against humanity and own up historically and publicly.
For the last month, this historical issue—a big one—has been replaying in my mind, over and over. It won’t let me go, for some reason.
Perhaps Andreas Kluth’s lovely retelling of the story of the German White Rose started this thought process. Now is the horticultural time we bury bulbs deep into the frozen ground and then await their ascension in the spring.
What has been planted in my mind is trouble. No white rose, crocus, or daffodil is coming from this bulb. The French have submerged it, deep into a collective consciousness that doesn’t seem to care…and they get away with it. No one really cares, it seems.
I’ll make it succinct and perhaps, in opening this topic, someone might lead me to an answer that will make sense. I doubt it, though.
Forty years after the Nazi camps were liberated, Germany began doing the right thing: that is, making the Third Reich and its Stephen Kingish horrors a part of every German child’s education. In places around Germany, where Jewish families lost everything, the government has made signs and arrows and directions to museums and locations where visitors can learn the truth. The Holocaust and Germany’s role in creating it, is part of German education now.
Good for Germany.
But what about France? Is Vichy France part of French eduation? What about the folks in Paris sipping a coffee on the Champs de Elysee? Can you direct Jewish tourists and historians to sites historically important to them? Can you find tiny signs?
As I understand this piece of heinous history, Vichy France and its soldiers were directly responsible for deporting over 75,000 Jews to Auschwitz after separating the children from their parents. The history of the French Jewish children during the Third Reich is one of the most heartbreaking chapters in this bad book. Anyone who has an 18 month old child, or a six year old whom you read to every night, cannot seriously imagine the horror of giving that precious being up to a guard.
And yet, only in 1995, did Jacques Chirac acknowledge this fact in a weak statement, a waffling and pathetic statement.
When one travels around France or when a French child is in school, why are the facts not being told? Where are the markers, the historic apologies?
This is what I am thinking about tonight.
Maybe there is a page torn out of this book that I have missed.