Serge Klarsfeld is born in Bucharest, Romania, during a visit by his mother, Raissa, to her family and birthplace in Bessarabia. Raissa and her husband, Arno Klarsfeld, have lived in France since 1928, when they left Romania to complete their university studies in Paris.
Beate-Auguste Kunzel is born in Berlin to Helene Scholz Kunzel and Kurt Kunzel. Shortly after becoming a father, Kurt Kunzel is called up for service in the German army.
At the outbreak of war with Nazi Germany in September, Arno Klarsfeld enlists in the French Foreign Legion.
Arno Klarsfeld's Foreign Legion regiment suffers heavy losses in fighting on the Somme front during the French defeat in June 1940. The Germans capture him but he escapes to the "Free" Vichy Zone in southern France and settles with his family in Nice.
Kurt Kunzel's Wehrmacht infantry regiment is sent to France in the summer of 1940. After a year's service there, the regiment is transferred to the East. Kunzel, however, is stricken with double pneumonia and is invalided back to Germany for the rest of the war.
The Klarsfeld family is relatively safe in Nice, where the Italian occupation zone protects Jews from arrest and deportation to the East. However, in September 1943, Mussolini is overthrown and Italy's alliance with Germany is ended. When Italian troops withdraw from Nice, SS teams commanded by Alois Brunner enter the city to hunt down Jews. Serge's father is arrested by the SS as his wife and children listen, hidden in the back of a closet in their apartment. Arno Klarsfeld is deported to Auschwitz and gassed.
The Kunzel family flees the Allied bombings of Berlin, eventually taking refuge in the village of Sandau, in northeastern Germany. The Kunzels return to Berlin at the war's end.
After fleeing Nice with her young children, Serge's mother makes her way to the Haute Loire, near the village of Le Chambon, and the three survive the war. Serge and his mother and sister return to Paris when France is liberated.
Beate leaves Berlin and travels to Paris, finding work as an au pair with French families. On a Metro platform one afternoon she meets Serge, now a student at the University of Paris's Institute of Political Studies.
Serge and Beate marry in Paris. He begins work with the French National Radio and Television Organization (ORTF) and she with the Franco-German Alliance for Youth, a friendship organization newly set up by President Charles De Gaulle and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.
Arno Klarsfeld's grandson, Arno-David Klarsfeld, is born to Serge and Beate in Paris.
Beate, in an article written for the Parisian daily Combat, protests that the new Chancellor of West Germany, Kurt-George Kiesinger, was a leading Nazi and is unfit for his post. She charges that Kiesinger was a party member from 1933 to 1945, rising to the post of director of Nazi propaganda broadcasting, a career known but ignored by West Germany's politicians and press. For her efforts, Beate is fired by the Franco-German Alliance for Youth. (Later, she discovers that several former Nazis serve on the Alliance's board and in its administration.)
On the outbreak of the Six-Day War, Serge, who has completed military service in France, flies to Israel to volunteer. Denied an active duty assignment, he uses old ORTF press documents to accompany Israeli troops on the Syrian front.
Beate declares war on Kiesinger. She launches a public campaign against him in West Germany, addressing student groups and political demonstrations across the country. She heckles him, shouting "Nazi!" "Resign!" as he addresses the Bonn Parliament. She is seized by security guards but released.
The Klarsfelds publish a documentary account of Kiesinger's Nazi career, Die Geschichte des P.G. 2633930: Kiesinger Dokumentation (The History of Party Member Number 2633930), with a forward by novelist Heinrich Boll.
Disguised as a reporter, Beate is admitted to the ruling Christian Democratic Union's congress in Berlin and confronts Kiesinger at the speaker's table. Shouting "Nazi!" "Nazi!" she slaps his face. She is arrested, tried the same day, and sentenced to a year in prison but the sentence is suspended. The slap brings the anti-Kiesinger campaign to the front page of nearly every newspaper in West Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
Elections are called in West Germany and Beate spends much of the year campaigning against Kiesinger and Adolf von Thadden, head of the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party. Running as a candidate in Kiesinger's own district, she criss-crosses the country, dogging his footsteps with heckling and demonstrations and addressing student and left-wing political groups. In one guerrilla action, the group she leads sews a huge Nazi flag and hangs it in the main square of Stuttgart to protest the opening of a neo-Nazi party congress there. The Social Democrats win the election and Willy Brandt becomes Chancellor of West Germany.
After a campaign in Western Europe documenting the role of Ernst Achenbach in the wartime persecution of Jews in France, Beate wins withdrawal of his nomination as West Germany's Representative on the Brussels Commission, at the helm of the European Economic Community. During the war, Achenbach, chief of the political section of the German embassy in Paris, was intimately involved with setting up the deportations of Jews to death camps in the East; after the war he became a leading corporate lawyer and a prominent defense attorney for accused former Nazi officials.
Counterattacking against the Polish Communist government's anti-Semitic campaign against "Zionist Jews," Beate travels to Warsaw to mount a public protest. Chaining herself to a tree at a major Warsaw intersection, she distributes leaflets to lunchtime crowds condemning the government's campaign to drive out the few remaining Polish Jews. The chain is cut and she is arrested and expelled.
Eastern Europe's Communist regimes continue their anti-Semitic campaigns, and in Czechoslovakia the Party has charged Jews were prominent in staging incidents that provoked Soviet military intervention against the "Prague Spring" of 1968. A show trial is organized, with 26 young persons accused of "Trotskyist" efforts to overthrow Communism in Czechoslovakia and elsewhere. Half are Jews accused of acting with Zionist support. Beate goes to Prague and is arrested and expelled for distributing leaflets against Stalinism and anti-Semitism.
Turning to unfinished business with Nazi murderers who remained unpunished, Serge and Beate attempt to kidnap Kurt Lischka, wartime Gestapo chief for Jewish affairs in France and an architect of the deportations. Lischka lives in Cologne, where he was Gestapo chief just before the war, and the Klarsfelds intend to return him to France, where he was condemned in absentia after the war. Lischka evades capture when passersby and police intervene, but Serge and Beate get away.
The Klarsfelds extend their campaign for trials of Nazi officials to Herbert Hagen, wartime superior of Lischka and an associate of Adolf Eichmann, who also lives in the Cologne area. Beate returns to Cologne to deliver documentation on Lischka and Hagen to an examining magistrate and her reward is arrest by him for her role in the attempted Lischka kidnapping. Three weeks later, after protests in Paris, among them a brief occupation of the West German embassy, she is freed on bail.
After a long campaign by the Klarsfelds the West German government signs a Franco-German agreement permitting German courts to try accused Nazi officials for crimes committed in France.
The Klarsfelds intensify efforts to track and unmask unpunished Nazis, among them Klaus Barbie, chief of the Gestapo in wartime Lyons. Archives of the Jewish Documentation Center in Paris document Barbie's leading role in the roundups and murders of Lyons Jews, among them many children, and of resistance members, including Jean Moulin, General De Gaulle's emissary to the resistance. Barbie is believed to have personally tortured and killed Moulin.
A campaign is launched in France and West Germany to reopen the case of Barbie, twice condemned in absentia by French courts but never caught. Acting on secret information that Barbie is living in Bolivia but has taken temporary refuge in Peru, Beate travels to South America twice, visiting Lima and La Paz to publicize demands for his extradition. Barbie is jailed briefly on his return to Bolivia, but despite an extradition request from French President Georges Pompidou, he is protected by the Bolivian dictator, Colonel Hugo Banzer, and extradition is refused.
In Paris, a package delivered to the Klarsfeld home seems suspicious and they bring it to local police. An X-ray examination reveals the detonator, explosive and nails of a large homemade bomb.
The Klarsfelds campaign against the decision of President Pompidou to pardon Paul Touvier, former head of the Vichy government Militia in occupied Lyons. Touvier has been in hiding since the war.
Serge goes to South America to try to organize the kidnapping of Barbie and bring him back to France for trial. Planning the operation, he flies to a remote site in the Andes with activist Regis Debray and other conspirators; the group counts on the help of Bolivian officers opposed to the dictatorial Banzer regime. The overthrow of the leftist Allende government in Chile puts an end to the kidnapping plan.
Lida-Myriam, the Klarsfelds' second child, is born in Paris in 1973.
After Kurt Lischka pulls out a pistol and threatens Beate and a group of protesters who invade his Cologne office to demand his trial, Serge travels to Cologne and confronts Lischka in the street with an unloaded revolver. He tells the terrified Lischka that he could have fired but is saving him to face justice in a courtroom. Serge escapes back to France and writes the Cologne prosecutor to demand completion of the accord permitting trials in Germany of former Nazi officials. The prosecutor's response is to issue a warrant for the arrest of both Klarsfelds.
Returning to La Paz with Itta Halaunbrenner, whose husband, son and two daughters were killed on Barbie's orders, Beate renews efforts to force Barbie's extradition for trial in France. The two women chain themselves to a bench near Barbie's office in central La Paz with protest placards and succeed in generating press attention despite police harassment before they return to Paris.
Beate flies to Damascus in January to protest Syria's mistreatment of Israeli prisoners taken in the Yom Kippur War, its refusal to publish a list of the prisoners and the government's persecution of the Syrian Jewish community. The protest is delivered to President Assad's office and the foreign ministry, and despite official harassment the Western press carries her statement:
Wherever Jews are persecuted, it is our duty as Germans to intervene on their behalf. Here, in addition to the cruel treatment that the Syrian Jewish community has increasingly suffered in recent years, is added the horrible uncertainty about the lives of Israeli prisoners of war. Already dozens of their comrades have been abominably executed after their capture on the Golan Heights. . . . Let not the crimes of Hitler's Germany be used as a model by the Arab people.
A planned action goes awry when Beate is arrested on Yom Hashoah-Holocaust Remembrance Day-inside the compound of the Dachau concentration camp, near Munich. The demonstration was intended to press for final adoption of the law to permit West German courts to try accused Nazi war criminals. Her arrest brings protests in France and Israel and in the West German capital, Bonn, where reporters dissuade baton-wielding police from charging a protest delegation of French resistance veterans. After three weeks in jail, she is freed in the custody of Arie Marinsky, a prominent lawyer the Israeli government has sent to defend her. Later, Beate is tried in Cologne for the assaults on Lischka. She is convicted and sentenced to two months in prison, but the sentence is waived for time served and pending an appeal.
Following her trial, Ernst Achenbach, the former Nazi official who chairs the Bundestag committee responsible for reviewing the draft law permitting trials of Nazis, is forced to resign this post by his Liberal Party colleagues. Achenbach, also the leader of the lobby agitating for an amnesty on Nazi crimes, had threatened to block a vote on the legislation.
Undeterred, Beate is arrested at the summit meeting of the Arab States in Rabat while
handing out pro-Israeli literature in the street in front of the building housing the Moroccan Ministry of Information. She is interrogated by several police teams and then expelled.
Beate returns to the Middle East to campaign in defense of the Jewish communities in Syria and Iraq. In Cairo, she discloses that Hans Schirmer, head of the Euro-Arab cooperation program set up by West European and Arab parliamentarians, had served as second in command of Hitler's international radio propaganda service. She is arrested when she visits Beirut and is expelled from Lebanon.
The West German Parliament ratifies the Franco-German judicial agreement permitting German courts to try former Nazi officials for war crimes committed in France. In recognition of their four-year struggle to win ratification of the agreement, the new law is widely known as Lex Klarsfeld.
A series of demonstrations, both legal and illegal, are staged in West Germany by the Klarsfelds and their French Jewish supporters to force application of the new law to Lischka, Hagen and Heinrichsohn.
The Klarsfelds campaign in Cologne for indictments of Lischka and his accomplices and in Schleswig for the trial of SS leaders who deported 25,000 Jews from Belgium: Ernst Ehlers, wartime head of the Nazi police in Belgium, and Kurt Asche, head of the anti-Jewish department of the Gestapo in Brussels. When tracked down by the Klarsfelds, Ehlers was serving as a judge in the Administrative Court of the West German state of Schleswig-Holstein.
The Klarsfelds demonstrate in West Germany against the neo-Nazi party known as the Deutsche-Volks-Union. Serge becomes the first Jew to be publicly beaten in Germany since the war, when he leaps on the stage at a neo-Nazi rally in the Burgerbraukeller hall in Munich and demands that the rally allow a Jew to speak. The incident provokes public shame of dramatic proportions in West Germany, and the Munich meetings cease.
Serge is arrested in Frankfurt on charges stemming from his campaign to bring Kurt Lischka to trial. In a reprise of Beate's 1971 arrest by a Cologne judge when she arrived in court to deliver documentation for the case against Lischka and Hagen, Serge is arrested when he enters the Frankfurt Criminal Court with files containing evidence against Ernst Heinrichsohn and two other former Nazi officials, Hans-Dietrich Ernst, Sipo-SD commander in Angers, and Fritz Merdsche, Sipo-SD commander in Orleans. All three had been condemned to death in absentia by French courts after the war. Serge's trial takes place in Cologne and results in a sentence of two months in prison, immediately suspended.
Beate returns to South America to generate protests in Buenos Aires and Montevideo. She protests the growth of anti-Semitism and the arrests of Jews by authoritarian military regimes in Argentina and Uruguay and their use of torture and violations of human rights.
Beate is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by 57 members of the Israeli Knesset, among them Menachem Begin, Abba Eban and Yitzhak Navon.
Serge's pathbreaking Mémorial de la Déportation des Juifs de France-Memorial to the Jews Deported from France-is published. The culmination of years of archival research, the Memorial lists by name each of the known victims of the Final Solution in France. Based on the original typewritten lists prepared for each deportation train, the Memorial establishes that more than 75,700 Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps from France and that just 2,564 of the deportees were found alive in 1945. Listing the victims convoy by convoy, the book gives the names, place and date of birth, and nationality of each deportee. The publication of the Memorial has a tremendous impact on the French Jewish community.
The Klarsfelds launch a concerted effort to break the immunity enjoyed for more than 30 years by former Vichy officials who worked with the Nazis to organize the deportations of Jews from France. Their focus is on René Bousquet, Vichy's chief of the National Police, and on Jean Leguay, his deputy in the Occupied Zone responsible for relations with the Germans. (Bousquet negotiated the 1942 agreement with the Nazis under which French police arrested Jews and held them for deportation. He initiated the arrangements for the capture and deportation of Jewish children. After the war he was sentenced to five years of "national indignity," immediately suspended, and became a director of the Indo-Suez Bank and many major French enterprises in Indochina. Leguay, involved in the 1942 negotiations, was suspended from government service after the liberation but was permitted to leave for the United States, where he became a leading executive of Nina Ricci and Warner Lambert Pharmaceuticals.)
Serge and Beate lead the children of Jewish deportees in demonstrations in Dusseldorf, Cologne and other West German cities to demand trials of the SS officials who deported Jews from France and Belgium.
The organization known as Les Fils et Filles des Deportés Juifs de France (FFDJF)-The Sons and Daughters of the Jewish Deportees of France, the "militants of memory"-is founded in Paris by Serge. The FFDJF lists these aims: "to put an end to the immunity of the major German and French organizers of the deportations of Jews from France; to publish works that precisely describe the fate of Jews in France from 1940 to 1944; to defend the memory of the Jewish victims; to struggle against anti-Semitism and to support the existence and the security of the State of Israel, the refuge of the survivors and the persecuted and the guardian of the security of Jews everywhere." With the help of American supporters the Beate Klarsfeld Foundation is created in New York. Working in parallel, the two groups will support the Klarsfelds' actions in defense of Jews wherever they are threatened and will research and publish verified documents on the Holocaust.
The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation publishes The Holocaust and the Neo Nazi Mythomania, the first detailed refutation of the three main "revisionist" propaganda themes: that Hitler was not responsible for the Final Solution; that the gas chambers did not exist at Auschwitz or the other death camps, and that the figure of six million Jewish victims is a fabrication.
As a result of Serge's accusations, René Bousquet is forced to resign from the board of the Indo-Suez Bank and many of his other posts and Jean Leguay is the first person to be indicted in France for crimes against humanity.
Serge travels to Teheran to protest the execution of Habib Elghanian, one of the leaders of the Jewish community in Iran, by the Ayatollah Khomeini's government. His statements draw attention to the threats weighing on Iranian Jews. Before returning to France, Serge penetrates the Teheran jail and uncovers documents proving that Elghanian was not killed for "corruption on earth" as charged but because he was a friend of Israel.
There is a new attempt on the lives of the Klarsfeld family: a time bomb completely destroys their car and damages twenty others parked near it in Paris. A letter sent to Serge by the self-styled SS underground called Odessa said that its members had sworn a blood oath to kill him if he went to Cologne for the Lischka trial.
The first major exhibit of photographs and documents dealing with the wartime deportations of Jews from France is assembled by the FFDJF and opens in the city hall of the Eleventh Arrondissement in Paris.
Kurt Lischka, Herbert Hagen and Ernst Heinrichsohn, deputy to Lischka in organizing the deportations, finally go on trial in a German court in Cologne for their crimes against Jews in France. Among the lawyers in the courtroom is Serge Klarsfeld, representing hundreds of Jewish families whose members were deported to their deaths by the three former Nazi officials. Serge is the source for much of the evidence presented in the court. Hundreds of French Jews travel to Cologne to attend the court's sessions. At the end of Serge's summation, one of Hagen's lawyers comes up to Serge and shakes his hand: he is immediately fired.
The Klarsfelds and the FFDJF organize a special train to Cologne, bringing fifteen hundred Jews who march in the city's streets before the verdicts are handed down in the trial of Lischka, Hagen and Heinrichsohn. The three are convicted and sentenced to prison, Lischka for ten years, Hagen for twelve years and Heinrichsohn for six years.
After an investigation that leads him to Prague, Budapest, Frankfurt and U.S. cities, Serge finds the original "Auschwitz Album" in Miami. The album, believed to have been put together by an SS officer, is the only known collection of photographs of Jews arriving in the extermination camp. Lili Jacob Meier, a former prisoner who discovered it in the Dora concentration camp in 1945, donates the album to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Klarsfelds publish a scholarly edition of the album, followed a year later by a Random House edition in the U.S., reproducing the album in a format similar to the original.
After four years of agitation by Serge and members of the Belgian Jewish community, a West German court in Kiel prepares to open the trial of Ernst Ehlers and Kurt Asche, heads of the Gestapo's anti-Jewish section in Brussels. On the eve of the trial, Ehlers, who directed the Nazi police in Belgium and nonetheless served as a West German judge before his indictment, commits suicide. Asche, a key figure in the organization of the Jewish deportations from Belgium, is convicted after a trial lasting six months and is sentenced to seven years in prison. The depth of the Nazi crimes against Jews in Belgium is documented by the Memorial to the 25,124 Jews Deported from Belgium, published by the Beate Klarsfeld Foundation.
This becomes a year of Memorials. In March, the Klarsfelds organize the first one-day pilgrimage to Auschwitz by French Jews; two planeloads of FFDJF members-the Sons and Daughters and other members of deportees' families-make the sad journey to Poland.
In June, the Sons and Daughters and the Klarsfelds dedicate a monument to Jews deported from France in Roglit, Israel. The monument is one hundred ten yards long and 13 yards high and dominates the valley where David killed Goliath. It bears the names and the birth places and dates of the 80,000 victims from France. Around the monument, 80,000 trees are planted as a Forest of Remembrance.
When documents are found supporting accusations against Maurice Papon, minister of the budget in the French cabinet, Serge immediately renews his charges that Papon bears a major responsibility for the arrests, deportations and murders of more than 1,600 Bordeaux Jews, many of them children.
Serge travels to Damascus to agitate for reopening of the case against Alois Brunner, a commander of SS actions against Jews in France in 1943-44, who has been given refuge by the Syrian regime. Brunner organized the deportation of 24,000 Jews from France and commanded the Drancy concentration camp from 1943 until he was sent to Slovakia to head anti-Jewish actions that brought the deaths of 13,000 Jews there. Before his service in France, Brunner had organized the deportations of 45,000 Jews from Austria and an estimated 45,000 Jews from the Salonika region of Greece. Serge is expelled from Syria by the Assad regime, but his action leads to the reopening of the case against Brunner in Germany.
The Klarsfelds help organize Klaus Barbie's forced return to France for trial. With the support of Regis Debray, now a special adviser to French President Francois Mitterrand, they turn to Gustavo Sanchez Salazar, a member of their conspiracy to kidnap Barbie in 1973. Salazar, who has become deputy minister of the Interior in the new Bolivian government, has Barbie arrested and cancels his Bolivian citizenship. Barbie is put on a plane, not to Germany as he believes, but to French Guyana, where once on French soil, he is arrested and returned to Lyons, where he commanded the Gestapo unit and will be tried.
As a lawyer for more than one hundred twenty associate plaintiffs in the Barbie case,
Serge assumes a key role in the four-year preparation of the trial. He documents the diplomatic conflict between French and American authorities who, from 1948 to 1951, protected Barbie against demands for his extradition from the U.S. Zone of Germany to face trial in France. (After serving the U.S. authorities as an anti-Communist specialist, Barbie was permitted to escape from Europe to South America.)
Serge publishes the first volume of his documentary history of the collaboration of the Vichy government and Nazi Germany in bringing the Final Solution to France. Entitled Vichy-Auschwitz: The Role of Vichy in the Final Solution of the Jewish Question in France, the two volumes are a meticulously documented account of Vichy's complicity in the persecution, arrests and deportations of Jews from France.
The Klarsfelds go to Cologne, Frankfurt and Bonn to press for diplomatic action to advance the Brunner case. In Cologne, they succeed in obtaining a warrant for his arrest.
Beate flies to Chile to protest the seeming immunity of Walter Rauff, former SS colonel and technical director of the program to exterminate Jews in mobile gas vans, who lives freely in Santiago. Beate demonstrates illegally in front of Rauff's house and in front of the Presidential Palace of La Moneda. She is twice arrested by General Augosto Pinochet's police. Ironically, a few weeks after the demonstrations, Rauff dies.
In Paraguay, Beate publicly denounces the protection granted to Josef Mengele, director of the Auschwitz medical experiments on prisoners, among them many children. Mengele was given asylum in the 1960s by the Paraguayan dictator, Alfredo Stroessner. Her Asuncion protest is the first unauthorized demonstration held in Paraguay in 17 years.
With the Asuncion protest Beate becomes the only individual to publicly denounce all five South American dictatorships in their own capitals-Bolivia (1972), Argentina and Uruguay (1977), and Chile and Paraguay (1984).
A few months apart, Serge and Beate are named to the Legion of Honor by French President Mitterrand. They are jointly awarded the prestigious Prize of the Foundation of French Judaism.
Beate returns to Paraguay, this time with Americans Elisabeth Holtzmann and Menahem Rosensaft, to press the case against Mengele. She demonstrates against General Stroessner and places ads in Paraguay and Brazil offering rewards for information leading to the arrest of Mengele. Soon after her trip, Mengele's death in Brazil is confirmed by German investigations.
Serge discovers what will turn out to be a key piece of evidence in the Barbie trial: the original telex announcing the liquidation of a Jewish children's home in the remote Rhone Valley hamlet of Izieu, 50 miles east of Lyons. The April 6, 1944 telex to the Gestapo in Paris confirms that all the children have been arrested and is signed by Klaus Barbie.
Serge publishes Les Enfants d'Izieu (published as The Children of Izieu by Abrams) about the children who were murdered as a result of Barbie's raid. Richard Bernstein, writing in the New York Times (Dec. 18, 1984), describes the book in these words:
The story of the 44 children, how they came to Izieu, how they lived there, how they died, and most important, exactly who they were and what they were like, is the subject of a detailed and highly personalized chronicle that was published here today. Called "The Children of Izieu: A Jewish Tragedy" the 128-page, large format book covers a tragic event that has been known in outline since the end of World War II. But it adds a richness of detail-photographs, letters, birth certificates, accounts of daily life-that gives each of the victims a concrete identity, removing their murder from the realm of abstract evil to that of the wrenchingly particular.
In New York, Beate shares the Jabotinsky Prize for "outstanding service in defense of the rights of Jewish people" with Anatoly Sharansky and Yehudah Blum.
The Klarsfelds succeed in getting West Germany to make a formal request to Syria for the extradition of Alois Brunner. Serge publishes the second volume of Vichy-Auschwitz, covering the Vichy-Nazi collaboration in 1943-44, and the Beate Klarsfeld Foundation publishes The Struthof Album, on the results of medical experiments on prisoners at the camp of that name in Alsace.
Beate spends four weeks in West Beirut, offering herself as a substitute for five Lebanese Jews kidnapped and held hostage by a terrorist group that calls itself Organisation of the Oppressed on the Earth. Contacts with the terrorists do not succeed. After several of the hostages are killed, Serge travels to West Beirut to denounce the barbarity of the murderers on the spot. His life is threatened by enraged terrorists but members of the French Embassy's special security force intervene and bring him to safety in East Beirut.
After ex-UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim is exposed as a former Nazi officer whose command played a role in mass killings and reprisals in Yugoslavia, Beate is arrested repeatedly in Austria while campaigning against his candidacy for the Austrian presidency.
Farah Fawcett stars as Beate and Tom Conti as Serge, in "The Beate Klarsfeld Story," telecast by ABC in the U.S. and shown in many other countries.
The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation publishes a twelve volume collection, Documents Concerning the Fate of Romanian Jewry During the Holocaust.
Serge obtains Interpol's support in the Brunner case; it is the first time that the international police organization intervenes in the case of an accused Nazi criminal. Beate goes to Damascus again to protest the refuge given Brunner and this time she is expelled on arrival.
Barbie's trial begins in Lyons. Serge is one of the forty lawyers representing the Gestapo chief's victims and in his summation he describes each of the 44 children taken from the children's home in Izieu on Barbie's orders. These are the children whose "arrest" Barbie confirmed in his telex to the Gestapo in Paris April 6, 1944. None survived deportation. Serge ends each description with the same refrain: "Sami did not return. . . . Max did not return. . . .Egon did not return. . . ." It is an argument that Barbie's lawyer, Jacques Verges, finds hard to rebut.
Barbie is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Serge is cheered and applauded as he walks from the courthouse at the end of the two-month trial.
Returning to the case of Kurt Waldheim, now Austria's President, Beate, together with the American rabbi Avi Weiss, demonstrates in Rome against his visit to the Pope. A month later she is arrested in Amman while protesting Waldheim's visit to King Hussein.
Arno Klarsfeld is severely beaten in Paris at a rally of the extreme right-wing French party, National Front, when he jumps on the stage near party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen wearing a T-shirt with the legend: "Le Pen Nazi."
Beate goes to Buenos Aires to submit new evidence against Josef Schwammberger, a former Nazi accused of directing the liquidation of the ghetto of Przesmysl, in Poland. Argentina extradites Schwammberger to West Germany, where he is tried, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The Beate Klarsfeld. Foundation publishes a five volume collection of documents bearing on the destruction of the Jews of Grodno, in Byelorussia.
Since West Germany appears to be powerless to obtain Alois Brunner's extradition from
Syria, Serge lodges a complaint against Brunner in Paris for crimes against humanity. As a result, France demands Brunner's extradition by Syria and issues a warrant for his arrest.
Beate demonstrates against Waldheim in Austria several times. In June, she and Arno are arrested in Vienna. During a visit by the Pope to Waldheim, Arno appears at an official event wearing a Nazi uniform identical to the one Waldheim wore. He is arrested and sentenced to ten days in prison. Beate is arrested again in Istanbul with Rabbi Avi Weiss while protesting a Waldheim visit to Turkey.
Arno completes his law studies and is admitted to the Paris Bar.
Beate is arrested in Algiers the day before an Arab summit meeting opens. She had planned to unfurl a banner with the legend: "Full recognition of the state of Israel is the first step to peace." She is deported.
Eight missing deportation lists are found by Serge in Prague, completing the research information he needs for publication of his Memorial to the Jews Deported from Bohemia-Moravia.
Beate and Serge are awarded the Raoul Wallenberg Prize.
Serge sues Rene Bousquet, former head of the Vichy police, for crimes against humanity.
The Klarsfelds' efforts to bring Jean Leguay to trial are halted by Leguay's death from natural causes. However, the Paris public prosecutor issues a statement confirming the substance of the Klarsfelds' accusations of Leguay's guilt for aiding the arrests and deportations of Jewish families while he served as Bousquet's delegate in the Occupied Zone.
In a ceremony in Paris, Serge shares the first Prix de la Mémoire with a new Nobel Prize-winner, the Dalai Lama.
The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation publishes two important works. The first is Eyes of a Witness: David Olere, a Painter in the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz-Birkenau, a catalogue by Serge Klarsfeld of David Olere's paintings and sketches. The second book, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, by Jean-Claude Pressac, is a large-format reproduction of gas chamber blueprints and a reference work on their construction.
Serge goes to Damascus to try to press for action on Brunner's extradition. But Brunner is still protected by the Syrian regime and after three days Serge is deported by the Syrian police.
After three trips to Budapest, Serge obtains documents from Hungarian authorities that include detailed files on 35,000 Jews killed, many of them when used as human mine detectors by the so-called working battalions of the Hungarian army, The documents include evidence of Nazi war crimes in Hungary.
Arno Klarsfeld goes to Amman where he tries for 15 days to get into Iraq to intervene for Westerners held as hostages.
After completing his LLM-Master of Law-degree at New York University, Arno, now 24, passes the bar examination and is admitted to the New York Bar.
A sharp polemic breaks out between Serge and Georges Kiejman, the newly named deputy justice minister, about the case of Rene Bousquet. Serge publicly attacks President Francois Mitterrand for opposing a Bousquet trial and calls on Kiejman to resign rather than protect Bousquet against trial. Kiejman, a respected trial attorney, is a Jew whose father was deported and killed. There is increasing public awareness of Mitterand's own career as Vichy's official in charge of war veterans' affairs. Despite the government's opposition, a Paris court decides the Bousquet case must be pursued.
After defending his thesis on "The Final Solution of the Jews in France," Serge is awarded the highest French university degree, Docteur d'État habilité a diriger les recherches, qualifying him as a professor in contemporary history.
The Paris Court of Appeals rejects the government's plan to send the case against Bousquet to the long-dormant Special High Court of the Liberation as tantamount to dismissal of the case. The appeals court reinstates the Bousquet indictment and accepts the Klarsfelds' demand that it be tried in criminal court.
Jacques Correze resigns as head of the L'Oreal cosmetic company's U.S. distribution company after Serge substantiates charges that he worked with the Gestapo to loot and seize Jewish property, apartments, shops and buildings in 1941. More recently, Correze engineered the ouster of Jean Frydman from the management of a subsidiary of L'Oreal to satisfy demands of the Arab League Boycott Office in Damascus. Frydman, a former French Resistance member, was a resident of Israel. Correze dies of cancer hours after his resignation.
Beate returns to Damascus again to press for a Syrian response to France and Germany's now joint demand for the extradition of Alois Brunner, known in Damascus as Georg Fischer. She is arrested and expelled after publicly demonstrating in front of the Syrian Interior Ministry. Following the revival of the Brunner controversy, French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas cancels a planned visit to Syria.
Working in the archives of the Secretary of State for War Veterans, in Val-de-Fontenay, Serge discovers cards from the original Jewish index created by the Paris Prefecture of Police at German orders in the fall of 1940. The "fichier juif," based on the Jewish census carried out at local police stations, was the master index used by police to locate Paris Jews in their homes during the night-time roundups that led to detention in Drancy and deportation to the East. Although the Paris Prefecture of Police burned most of its files dealing with the wartime persecution of Jews in the late 1940s, two files from the Jewish card index were transferred to the then-Ministry for Veterans and War Victims. Serge judges that the cards were the remains of the original master index created and maintained by the police during the war and that these specific cards were taken from the master file when the Jewish individuals or families they listed were arrested.
Inspired by Serge's 1978 Memorial book of Jews deported from France, a similar Memorial to the Jews Deported from Italy is published with Serge's assistance by Dr. Liliana Picciotto-Fargion and the Jewish Documentation Center in Milan.
Serge, Beate and Arno lead a group of French Jews to Rostock, Germany to demonstrate against an agreement for the deportation of Gypsies from Germany to Romania. The Klarsfelds choose Rostock for their protest because of recent rightist riots against Romanian Gypsies and an arson attack on the refugee center where they lived. Other assaults on foreigners followed the Rostock attacks. The French protesters, four of whom are arrested, note that the German-Romanian accord is reminiscent of the deportations of both Gypsies and French Jews during the war.
A "Memory Train" organized by the Klarsfelds and the Sons and Daughters organization carries 1,000 French Jews and supporters from Paris to Oswieczim, Poland, site of the Auschwitz death camp. The train, marking the 50th anniversary of the mass deportations of Jews, follows the route the deportation convoys took from Drancy, near Paris, across France and through Germany, into the Silesian region, now again part of Poland.
In Paris, an exhibit entitled Le Temps des Rafles-The Time of the Roundups-prepared by Serge and FFDJF militants Jean Corcos and Hubert Cain, opens at the City Hall and begins to tour French cities.
The major war crimes cases sought by the Klarsfelds progress through the French courts. In two cases, those of Maurice Papon and Rene Bousquet, a Bordeaux court confirms the indictments and schedules trials. In the third case, that of Paul Touvier, the fugitive Vichy Milice official, a Paris court rules that his murders of seven Jewish prisoners were not crimes against humanity because the Vichy regime did not seek "ideological hegemony," a requirement for such indictments. There is a storm of public protest and it appears that the case is not over.
Serge and Beate continue their campaign on behalf of the Gypsies subject to deportation from Germany to Romania and the former Yugoslavia. They travel to Germany several times, speaking at rallies of up to 100,000 people in Bonn, Munich, Frankfurt, Nuremburg and Cologne. Arno Klarsfeld becomes the Gypsy people's attorney, representing the Roma and Cinti Congress before the European Community.
Le Calendrier de la Persécution des Juifs en France, 1940-1944 (The Calendar of the Persecution of Jews in France, 1940-1944), a day by day chronology of the Holocaust in France, is published by Serge to the acclaim of Le Monde and other major newspapers. The Calendrier's 1,300 pages describe and document the creation of the Vichy government's anti-Jewish program and Vichy's collaboration with the Nazis and the execution of these policies on the Jewish population of France. The Calendrier becomes the most graphic and complete history of the Holocaust in France.
President Francois Mitterrand decrees that July 16, the starting date of the mass roundups of Jews in 1942, will be a national day of remembrance of Vichy's "racist and anti-Semitic persecutions." Mitterrand, who has been assailed by the Klarsfelds for his refusal to acknowledge France's complicity in the wartime deportations, orders Memorial plaques to be erected in every départment of France and ceremonies to be held annually in remembrance of the persecutions. Serge asserts that Mitterrand's decree means "we now have an explicit and solemn condemnation of the crimes of Vichy."
Ironically, just five weeks before the first July 16 ceremonies, a deranged gunman shoots and kills René Bousquet, the Vichy police chief who planned and coordinated the July 16, 1942 roundups of Jewish with the Nazi authorities. A Bousquet trial had been demanded and prepared by the Klarsfelds for years, but President Mitterrand, a personal friend of Bousquet's, had blocked court action. The gunman, Christian Didier, 49, a frustrated writer who is not Jewish, asserts he killed Bousquet "to do something good for humanity." Serge, however, declares that France's Jews wanted Bousquet to face justice in a court.
Paul Touvier finally faces justice in a Versailles courtroom for his execution of seven Jews in 1944 while a leader of the armed Vichy Milice in Lyons. Among the lawyers representing the victims is Arno Klarsfeld, who, disregarding his colleagues, insists Touvier is guilty of willfully murdering the seven Jews rather than acting under German orders, as specified in Touvier’s indictment for crimes against humanity. Arno asserts that if Touvier is judged to have acted under orders it might be viewed as extenuating his guilt. The other lawyers fear a weakening of the indictment. Arno’s position is vindicated; Touvier is the first Frenchman to be convicted of crimes against humanity and is given a maximum sentence of life in prison.
After years of painful research, Serge publishes Le Mémorial des Enfants Juifs Déportés de France-The Memorial to Jewish Children Deported from France-a 1,550-page collection of photos of more than 2,000 of the 11,400 children seized, most of them by French police, and deported to Nazi death camps. Only 300 of these children were found alive in 1945. In his preface, Serge tells of the shame he felt when he found that some of these children died nameless, too young to tell anyone who they were, and that 35 years after the war their names still were not known. The book is the result of his obsession to find all of their names and as many of their photos as he can. (Photos of an additional thousand of the children are found later and published in supplements.) The children’s Memorial has a striking impact on France’s Jews.
In a televised interview before leaving office, President Mitterrand concedes that he used his authority to delay investigations and trials of accused war criminals. Asked about the charges he intervened in these cases, he replies, “Absolutely. It’s true, but these kinds of judicial procedures reopened all the wounds.” Commenting on Mitterrand’s assertion that he would not have intervened in Bousquet’s trial, Serge charges that his interference in the case was in the pre-trial phases and blocked the trial as long as possible.
President Jacques Chirac becomes the first French leader to acknowledge France’s responsibility for the arrest and deportation of Jews from France to Nazi death camps. Speaking at ceremonies marking the 53rd anniversary of the Vel D’Hiv roundups begun in Paris July 16, 1942, Mitterrand’s successor admits France committed a “collective error” when its police and officials collaborated in the deportations. “France, the homeland of the Enlightenment and of the rights of man, a land of welcome and asylum, on that day committed the irreparable,” Chirac said. “Breaking its word, it handed those who were under its protection over to their executioners.” Referring to the victims, Chirac added, “we owe them an everlasting debt.” The Chirac statement comes after years of campaigning by the Klarsfelds for an unambiguous admission of France’s complicity in the deportations of Jews. Serge declares that “this speech contained everything we hoped to hear one day.”
The day before Chirac’s apology, Serge opens a campaign for restitution of the property, money and valuables taken from Jewish deportees and not returned to their surviving children or other relatives after the war. France confiscated all the possessions of deportees it could find and “the families of the deported never got anything back,” Serge asserts. “The Fourth Republic [Vichy’s successor after the war] simply took their property, jewelry and objects. They stole money from parents and then did not pay it back to the children.” Klarsfeld asserts the property taken includes businesses, apartments, bank accounts and art collections. Nor did France pass on to deportees’ surviving children the reparations paid by West Germany after the war for the deportation and murder of foreign Jews deported from France. Serge declares it is time for France to make amends.
Serge broadens the restitution campaign, proposing the French government pay a monthly pension to Jews orphaned by their parents’ arrests and deportations from France. He declares, “I believe the most important thing is obtaining a pension for some 10,000 to 15,000 Jewish war orphans, many of whom are retired or near retirement today.” Noting that many of the individuals orphaned as children were “of modest means” today, he asserts, “I want to show that Vichy wronged these people emotionally and materially.”
Serge travels to Bosnia to confront Bosnian Serb leaders accused of war crimes in the genocidal “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims from the former Yugoslav province. In the Bosnian Serb capital of Pale, he calls on President Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic to surrender to the Hague Tribunal for trial. He declares that their guilt seems self-evident “as war crimes and acts of genocide have been committed by. . . [forces] directly under their authority.” He urges them to surrender rather than to be hunted down. Serge is held by police, interrogated, and ordered to leave Pale.
An English-language edition of Serge’s Mémorial aux Enfants Juifs Déportés de France, entitled French Children of the Holocaust, is published by New York University Press and is given major reviews and articles in the New York Times and London newspapers, the Manchester Guardian, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. This new edition contains photos of more than 2,500 of the lost children in nearly 2,000 pages.
Paul Touvier dies in prison at the age of 81.
After seventeen years of delays, Maurice Papon, wartime secretary general of the Bordeaux Prefecture and organizer of the fatal deportations of more than 1,600 Jews, goes on trial in Bordeaux on charges of crimes against humanity. Papon has been a target of the Klarsfelds for many years but no indictment was possible until a young researcher’s discovery of incriminating documents in 1981. After his wartime activities in Bordeaux, Papon had a stellar political career, rising to become a prefect, a member of Parliament, and minister of the budget in the French cabinet at the time the documents were discovered. Papon’s prominence and the fact that this will be France’s last major war crimes trial bring hundreds of French and European reporters to the court and make the trial a nightly topic on European television news. Among the lawyers in the courtroom representing Papon’s victims is Arno Klarsfeld. On many trial days, Serge and Beate and their supporters stand outside the courthouse in the Bordeaux winter, holding pictures of the children deported on the convoys organized by Papon.
Reflecting the trial’s impact on the French public and especially the new generation, the medical and bar associations apologize for their wartime expulsions of Jewish members and the national police union apologizes for the arrests of Jews by French police. In a formal statement read at the Drancy camp Memorial, the French Roman Catholic Bishops ask forgiveness for the Church’s failure to act more decisively to defend Jews.
Working with his American editors, Serge selects photographs and writes text for a traveling exhibit based on French Children of the Holocaust. The exhibit is opened by Serge at the New School in New York and at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Given lengthy reviews in the New York Times and Washington Post, the exhibit goes on to tour many other American cities.
New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage opens, featuring 1,500 photos from Serge’s collection of pictures of French Jewish children and families deported during the war. The French photographs are prominently displayed as part of the museum’s permanent collection.
Working with materials collected by the Klarsfelds over a twenty-year period, a Czech group publishes a Memorial book to the 70,000 Jews deported from Czechoslovakia. Serge tells the story of his struggle to obtain deportation documents from Communist authorities in his preface to the English guide to Czech-language Jewish Victims of Nazi Deportations of Nazi Deportations from Bohemia and Moravia.
Serge is named to the nine-member Matteoli Commission, charged with studying the question of confiscations of Jewish property under the Vichy regime.
In Jerusalem, Serge is the guest of honor of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Authority, at the convening of the first international conference on gathering, documenting and computerizing the names and personal details of the millions of Holocaust victims.
The Bordeaux court convicts Maurice Papon on more than 500 of the 750 counts in the indictment against him and sentences him to ten years in prison, tantamount to a life sentence for the 87-year-old. Arno Klarsfeld, who dominates the press coverage of the trial and the courtroom activities of the victims’ attorneys, declares the sentence a just resolution of the case. The Papon verdict ends the longest trial in postwar French history, a trial that has had a deep effect on public attitudes toward the Vichy years and the occupation regime’s persecution of the Jews. The trial and verdict vindicate the Klarsfelds’ long struggle to bring Papon to justice. Papon, however, is released on grounds of ill-health pending a decision on his appeal of the verdict.
Beate and Serge are awarded Doctor of Laws degrees honoris causa by Union College, in Schenectady, New York, for their courage and direct actions in pursuit of justice.
Despite warnings by the Klarsfelds that Papon may try to flee the country, the government rejects their suggestions that he be placed under police surveillance and be deprived of his passport. (Papon has been guarded by police since the verdict, but for protection, not for surveillance.) On the day he is to surrender for reading of the appeals court decision, Papon flees. Discovered in Switzerland a few days later, he is returned to France and imprisoned. Under French law, his flight voids all of his rights of appeal.
Among the books published by the FFDJF this year is Lettres au Premier Ministre des Orphelins des Déportés Juifs de France-hundreds of personal letters written to the French prime minister by men and women who were orphaned by the arrests and deportations of one or both parents. More than 700 letters were written to Prime Minister Lionel Jospin during the campaign organized by Serge and the FFDJF, and 280 of them are reproduced in the volume. They tell of the broken lives of the children who were left behind, often alone and in the hands of strangers, when their parents were sent to their deaths.
The orphans’ pension campaign bears fruit when Jospin announces that France will award pensions or indemnities to the children of Jews who died in deportation from France to the Nazi death camps. Serge is present when Jospin reveals the decision, in a speech at the annual dinner of CRIF-the Representative Council of French Jews. Those eligible for the pensions all are older than 55 and many are in financial need. In the end, 14,000 individuals file pension claims.
Serge publishes two volumes of documents on the role of the International Committee of the Red Cross during the arrests and detention of Jews in France. His work contradicts findings of the official Swiss Bergier Commission on Jewish refugees’ efforts to find safety in Switzerland during the war. The commission believes that 24,000 Jewish refugees were rejected by Switzerland, but Serge asserts that many fewer-about 5,000 persons-were turned back.
Serge and Beate lead demonstrations in Vienna and in Paris against the inclusion of the right-wing party of Georg Haider in the Austrian cabinet’s governing coalition. In Vienna the demonstrations are staged in the Helden Platz and in the street facing the party’s headquarters.
An exhibition entitled The Jewish Children Deported from France, created by the Klarsfelds from their photographic archive, opens in the Gare de l’Est railway station in Paris. The exhibit then travels to Montpelier and to Lyons.
The Matteoli Commission publishes its final report and recommendations on France’s response to the Vichy role in the deportations of Jews and thefts of their assets. A commission will be established to investigate claims for pillaged Jewish assets-apartments, bank accounts, businesses, art collections and valuables. A Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah will be created, with an initial capital of $400 million, to fund research on and commemoration of the Holocaust in France. Finally, on July 13, 2000, the decree offering indemnities or lifetime pensions to the children of Jews deported from France will become effective.
In ceremonies at the Elysées Palace, President Jacques Chirac promotes Serge Klarsfeld to the rank of officer in the Legion of Honor. Chirac declares that his and Beate’s activism, their research and publications and their dogged pursuit of justice, all have been “profound services” to France.
Serge’s collection of letters, photographs and memorabilia of Georgy Halpern, an 8-year-old seized at the children’s home in Izieu in 1944 and deported, is made part of the permanent exhibit of the Imperial War Museum in London. Opening the museum’s new wing, containing the Georgy collection among materials on the Holocaust, Queen Elizabeth II thanks the Klarsfelds personally for their contribution to the exhibit. The collection is the subject of Klarsfeld’s 1998 book Georgy: One of the 44 Children of Izieu, about the boy and the Izieu home raided on the orders of Klaus Barbie. An English edition of Georgy will be published in the U.S. by Aperture Books in 2001.
In a dramatic joint appearance in a Paris courtroom, the three Klarsfeld lawyer-activists-Serge, his son, Arno, and his daughter, Lida-present evidence at the trial in absentia of Alois Brunner, commander of Drancy and of an Austrian SS anti-Jewish team, who may still be alive in Damascus. Serge has pressed for this trial since forcing a judicial inquiry in 1987, and with it his life has come full circle; it was Brunner’s SS who arrested his father, Arno, one night in September 1943 as the eight-year-old Serge listened from his hiding place. Brunner is known to have survived the war’s end in Germany and to have worked for British and American occupation authorities before escaping to refuge, first in Cairo and then in Damascus. Syria has ignored extradition requests over the years from France, Israel and Germany. Brunner has been tried twice and condemned to death in absentia in the 1950s, but this third trial was ordered on the basis of new evidence presented by Serge: that Brunner organized and carried out the “arrests” of 352 children from Jewish community shelters in the Paris suburbs in July 1944, only weeks before the Germans withdrew from the city. Three hundred forty-five of the children, the youngest of them two weeks old, were deported to the East and 284 of them were murdered. In the courtroom, Lida Klarsfeld reads deportees’ testimony on each convoy that Brunner sent from France to Auschwitz. The court, acting on the basis of more than 50 volumes of evidence, finds Brunner guilty of crimes against humanity and sentences him to prison for life.
In Jerusalem, the government of Israel awards Serge Klarsfeld full Israeli citizenship in recognition of his actions in defense of the Jewish people. In Paris, the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah nominates him to be president of its Commission for Links of Memory, responsible for commemorating places of memory and publishing testimonies of the Shoah.
The Klarsfelds mobilized protests against the state visit to Paris on June 25 of Bashar el-Assad, the Syrian dictator. In the presence of Pope John Paul II, Assad had made a virulent anti-Semitic outburst earlier in the year. Serge warned the president of the Republic that by shaking hands with Assad, he would be granting Assad respectability “worthy of a Goebbels.” While the visit did take place, the protests organized by the Klarsfelds put a spotlight on Assad’s vicious anti-Semitism. Similar protests were planned for Berlin in July.
Statement of the Klarsfelds :
Once again the United States lead a vast coalition against international terrorism, as they have already done during the second world war. Democracy and freedom shall prevail but once again it will require a long and difficult fight.
For a long time we have been aware of the threat of an arab will of destruction of Israel. Therefore we have tried to tell the truth to the Arabs on the spot eventhough such a truth was desagreable for them to hear and eventhough it implied taking personnal risks.
- in february 1975 in Cairo and in Beyrouth
- after the Yom Kippour War, in january 1974 in Damascus
- in october 1974 at the summit of the Arab States in Rabat
- in june 1979 in the Iran of Khomeiny
- in june 1982 in Damascus
- in january and in march 1986 in Beyrouth
- in march 1987 in Damascus
- in 1988 in Amman
- in 1990 in Damascus
- in 1990 at the summit of the Arab States in Algiers
- in 1991 in Damascus
Israel proposed twice Beate Klarsfeld for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 and in 1984. Today in France in the medias,with the he1p of our son Arno, we continue to defend the cause of Israel explaining patiently and clearly the historical background of the current conflict : in particular how the National Jewish Shelter, created with the agreement of the League of Nations in order to welcome the millions of Jews persecuted throughout Europe, did not play its role, due to the opposition of the Arabs. Those millions of Jews who could not find a place of shelter in Palestine were slaughtered.
Our son Arno, who is an attorney in law not only in France but also in the United States (member of the Bar of the State of New York and the State of California) publishes regularily editorials in the most important newspapers such as " Le Monde " and " Le Figaro " and expresses his support of Israel in many TV programs.
We have triggered in France and in Germany, an effective campaign against the officiaI visits of the syrian dictator Bachar El Assad, in Paris and in Berlin. Publishing mobilizing texts in the french and german press we provoked in Paris and in Berlin demonstrations which we organised and which caused in those two countries very desagreable welcome receptions for Assad. We demonstrated also in Brussels in favour of Israel in front of the European Parliament.
Moreover we managed to have sentenced in abstencia to life imprisonment, by the Paris Criminal Court, the nazi criminal Alois Brunner. Serge Klarsfeld and his children, Arno and Lida, both lawyers, pleaded against Brunner who has found shelter in Syria and whom one ignores whether or not he is still alive.
We go regularily to Israel, where we commemorated in june 2001 the 20th anniversary of the edification of our Monument in Roglit, the Memorial to the Deportation of the Jews from France, which bears all the names of the 80,000 victims of the Final Solution in France.
After the French President who promoted Serge Klarsfeld to the rank of Officer of the Legion of Honor, the Israeli Govemment has rendered an exceptional tribute to Serge Klarsfeld by bestowing him the israeli nationality although he does not live in Israel.
Recently in september 2002, our son Arno received also the Israeli citizenship.
The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation has sent a contribution to the Twin Towers Fund and also to two israeli families victims of terrorist attacks.
Commemorations - Ceremonies
It has been an intense year of commemorations and ceremonies which shall continue until the end of year 2004 for the 60th anniversary of the deportation of the Jews from France.
Serge Klarsfeld has succeeded to mobilize enough orphans of deportees in order to undertake the commemoration of the eighty convoys which left France for Auschwitz together with the reading of the name of each deportee of each convoy at the place where they left exactly 60 years ago.
In 2002, we held 6 ceremonies in Pithiviers, 2 in Beaune la Rolande, 2 in Compiègne, 1 in Anger, 1 in Lens and 32 in Drancy. We shall continue with 17 ceremonies in 2003 and 14 in 2004.
Beyond these exceptionnal ceremonies, we have continued to organize and/or participate in all the numerous ceremonies on the deportation.
After a tremendous work we have obtained from the French Railways (SNCF) the main railways stations in France in order to present our exhibition " Jewish Children deported from France ". We have begun by the the railway station of Compiègne, then in the main railway station in France, Paris-Saint-Lazare, where our exhibition has been seen by tens of thousands of Parisians from june 5th to july 21st si 2002.
We are continuing with three weeks of exhibition each time in Angers (july 2002), Lyon (sept. 26th to oct. 13th), Limoges (oct. 29th to nov. 17th), Clermont (nov. 26th to dec. 15th), Marseille (jan. 15th 2003 to feb. 9th 2003), Lille, Toulouse, Nice, Strasbourg, Nancy, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Metz, and Paris-Nord.
We have brought back to Paris the exhibition "French Children of the Holocaust" and we are trying to present it in german in Berlin in 2004 and then in various german cities. We prepared specific exhibitions in the railway stations of Compiègne and Tours.
A fundamental publication : the work of reference on the Shoah in France called " The Shoah in France " and which includes 4 volumes: Vichy-Auschwitz; the Calendar of the Persecution of the Jews in France (2 volumes) and the Memorial to the Jewish Children Deported from France. This work of 4.500 pages has been published by Fayard.
A book on the Jews from Hungary, in the frame of a serie which is dedicated to them. This book is on the Jews deported from the county of Zala. Another book on the Jews deported from the county of Bekes is in preparation.
The Foundation " Aperture " has published in english the moving work of Serge Klarsfeld dedicated to " Georgy ", one of the 44 children of Izieu.
Lastly we are preparing the publication in 2004 of a new edition corrected, completed and increased of the Memorial to the Jews Deported from France.
Compiled by Howard Epstein