This book collects all the speeches given by Simone Veil as president of the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah from 2002 to 2007. As a survivor of Auschwitz, she speaks from the bottom of her heart and her own memory, matured and enhanced by her national and international political experience.
Jacques Saurel was born in Paris into a Jewish family that had recently emigrated from Poland. During the war, Jacques’ father was a prisoner-of-war, which for a time spared his family. However, in February 1944, Jacques, his brother, elder sister and mother were interned at Drancy for three months. They were deported with the status of “hostage” to Germany’s so-called “star camp” of Bergen-Belsen.
Jacques Samuel, a French Alsatian Jew, spent the war in a family that was part of the Jewish Resistance. The pious, music-loving young man recorded what they all went through in a journal: the exodus, the refuge, the collective life on a farm school run by the Éclaireurs israélites de France (EIF), and the trek over the Pyrenees towards Spain in a desperate bid to reach Palestine, which ended in tragedy.
Marie Rafalovitch was 14 years old gwhen her world came crashing down on July 24, 1944, in Toulouse. Denounced by a neighbor, she was arrested alone and deported to Germany to the women’s camp of Ravensbrück. Too young for forced labor, she suffered from hunger and abuse, and discovered with horror the terrifying fate awaiting the camp prisoners. (Only available in French)
In 1940, like all the Jews in Lodz, lzabela and her family were forced to move to the ghetto set up by the Nazis. Unable to leave, they suffered from hunger and illness; Izabela’s father did not survive. The young girl, just 11 years old, and her mother managed to escape the roundups, until the ghetto was eradicated in August 1944. (Only available in French)
Jacob Alsztejn was arrested in Paris on July 24, 1942 for fighting back during an identity check. Carrying forged ID, he was not identified as a Jew. At his trial, Jacob requested the harshest prison sentence rather than the Gestapo. Yet he was handed over to it once he had served his sentence, and interned in the Jewish camp of Drancy.
One of the few survivors of Ozarow, Hillel Adler, born in 1920, sketches a loving, emotional portrait of life in his native village. He realistically but humorously depicts Jewish life in a Polish shtetl wiped out by the Nazis, breathing life into its people, their customs, their celebrations and the events that marked the passage of time.
Isidore Rosenbaum was born in Paris into a family of very modest Polish immigrants. He was denied the love of his mother, who beat him, and ran away from home very young and repeatedly. As a delinquent, he was imprisoned before being subjected to the discipline and violence of a penal colony for minors.
Written right after the war, the account of Michel (Mietek) Pachter is exceptional for more than one reason. Mietek - who was only 16 at the outbreak of war - experienced the ghetto, the extermination camp and the forced labour camp. With his brother Vilek at his side, he was able to survive his terrible trials.
Originally from Czestochowa in Poland, Henri Zonus experienced the anti-Semitic persecutions and the terrible conditions in the ghetto. Unlike his family, he escaped deportation to Treblinka and death. At 14, Henri was forced to work in one of the most deadly Nazi armaments factories, Werk C of the Skarzysko forced labour camp. There, Jews were in contact with picrin powder, a toxic explosive which gave the nickname "yellow hell" to that part of the camp kept as a military secret.