A tourist who walks through the one of world's most beautiful cities can notice the many plaques on the street-facing outside walls of Parisian buildings, especially older buildings, memorializing this or that historical person or event.
As Jews with a sense of history, our visits to Paris have included stopping and noticing the plaques that honor the dead and courageous of France's experiences under German occupation.
Our own extremely frustrating experiences here in Jerusalem with trying to hold the local authorities to their obligation of remembering the victims of this ongoing war and of the attacks against the people of Jerusalem in the last twelve years by the armies of the terrorist forces have taught us that not everyone - and that certainly includes some public officials and other bureaucrats whose salaries we help to pay for - understands how important history and memory are. [Anyone not familiar with our struggle on this might be interested in "A plaque at Sbarro" and "No memorial, not even a plaque..."]
For people needing a reminder, and especially for those familiar with France's tragic experiences with the Nazis and with the many other racist haters of the Jewish people of more recent times, we offer the following article, published this morning by Haaretz.
It illustrates again that memory thrives on remembrance; history withers and disappears in the absence of active maintenance.
The photo above is representative of many French public memorial plaques. It seems cold stone is not enough. People need reminding, and that calls for ongoing efforts from those of us who do remember.
Poll finds French youth never heard of mass 1942 deportation to Auschwitz
PARIS - Hundreds of people gathered at the site of a World War II internment camp outside Paris on Monday to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the mass roundup of Jews for deportation from occupied France. French police, acting on orders from Nazi Germany, arrested 13,152 Jews, mostly women and children, in occupied Paris and its environs on July 16-17, 1942. Most of the prisoners were deported to Auschwitz. Only a few dozen survived. The Vel d'Hiv Round-up, as it is known after the indoor cycling arena where the prisoners were held for the first five days, was one of the worst acts of collaboration with Nazi Germany by the regime of Marshal Philippe Petain. Monday's ceremony took place at the site of a former transit camp in Drancy, northeast of Paris, which was the staging post for the deportations. Rabbi Moche Lewin called on the assembly, which included a handful of survivors of the raids, to keep the memory of the victims alive "for the salvation of humanity." His appeal came as a survey by CSA pollsters showed between 57 percent and 67 per cent of French people under the age of 35 saying they had never heard of the Vel d'Hiv Round-up.
France did not officially recognize its complicity in the persecution of Jews until 50 years after the war, when then-President Jacques Chirac admitted the state had "committed the irreparable."
President Francois Hollande is set to preside over an official commemoration Sunday at the site of the cycling arena near the Eiffel Tower. The arena was destroyed by fire in 1959. A monument to the deportees marks the site where it stood. France did not officially recognize its complicity in the persecution of Jews until 50 years after the war, when then-President Jacques Chirac admitted the state had "committed the irreparable." President Francois Hollande is set to preside over an official commemoration Sunday at the site of the cycling arena near the Eiffel Tower. The arena was destroyed by fire in 1959. A monument to the deportees marks the site where it stood.
We pay a measurable and painful price for our inertia as individuals and as a community. The full article is here.