Nicole Guedj, former government minister, President of the France Israel Foundation
"The France Israel Foundation, over which I preside, strives to bring the civil societies of France and Israel closer together."After her initial tasks, she made the decision to take the grandchildren of the Righteous Among the Nations to Israel every year during the Shoah commemoration ceremonies to serve as remembrance.
The story of the Righteous Among the Nations, the exceptional women and men who saved Jews during the Second World War, is steeped in courage, dedication and humility. Now, the France Israel Foundation wants to pay tribute to these ordinary heroes who stood up against Nazi barbarity, as well as transmit their values as an example to new generations. For this, she turned towards the grandchildren of the Righteous, the new Ambassadors of Memory.
Nicole Guedj, former government minister, President of the France Israel Foundation, invites you to discover the exhibition "Grandchildren of the Righteous: Ambassadors of Memory."
A FEW WORDS FROM GREAT WITNESSES, SURVIVORS OF THE SHOAH, FOR NEW GENERATIONS
Simone Veil, former Minister of State, Honorary President of the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah, member of the Honorary Committee of the France Israel Foundation (photo credit : Micheline Pelletier\Corbis)
"The Righteous of France illustrate the honor of our country, as well as the sense of fraternity, justice and courage."
Simone VEIL Former Minister of State
There was Vichy France, responsible for the deportation of seventy-six thousand Jews, including eleven thousand children, but there were also all the men and women, thanks to whom three quarters of the Jews of our country escaped being tracked down.
The Righteous of France illustrate the honor of our country, as well as the sense of fraternity, justice and courage. They did not hesitate to risk their lives and those of the people closest to them. For whom? Why? For men, women and children who for the most part they did not even know, who were no relation to them, simply men, women and children in danger.These were mostly the "ordinary" French people. City dwellers or country people, atheists or believers, young or old, rich or poor.
They simply thought they were part of history. In reality, they were creating it.For us, who remain haunted by the memory of our loved ones, disappearing in smoke, remaining without a burial place, for all those who want a better world, fairer and more fraternal, free from the poison of anti-semitism, of racism and of hate, the Righteous of France give us reasons to believe and hope.
Marek HALTER, writer (photo credits: Stéphane de Bourgies//Flammarion)
"Whilst some were killing, others were saving lives. Those people are known as the Righteous.
I owe my life to these Righteous people."
Marek Halter Writer
Evil exists. As a child in Warsaw, I saw it in action every day.Recognizing evil is essential to ensure we never forget. But good? Pascal remarked accurately that "it is dangerous to make man see too clearly his equality with the brutes without showing him his greatness. (...)" (Pensées [Thoughts], VII, p.95) What purpose does it serve to show, to teach the Shoah, to renounce murderers if one continues to allow people to believe that between crime and inaction there is no alternative? And yet the choice really does exist. Whilst some were killing, others were saving lives. Risking their own lives. Those people are called the Righteous.
I owe my life to these Righteous people.
Several years ago, I went looking for them to collect their testimonies. Christians, secular people, Muslims – yes, Muslims –, simple people, militants or political... in Europe they saved more than 500,000 Jews. In our time that is marked by violence, it is vital that we remind our young people that Good remains one of the most beautiful adventures. The France Israel Foundation and its president Nicole Guedj are doing this. Let's support them.
Paul SCHAFFER, Honorary President of the Comité Français de Yad Vashem (French Committee of Yad Vashem), member of the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah (Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah).
"These people, who risked their lives, knew how to say NO and quite simply prioritized their sense of humanity."
Paul Schaffer Honorary President of the Comité Français de Yad Vashem (French Committee of Yad Vashem).
The Institute of Yad Vashem Jerusalem was founded in 1953 following a decision from the Israeli Parliament. Their main missions were to commemorate the victims of the Shoah, honor the Jewish Fighters and award the title of Righteous Among the Nations.More than 23 years ago, an ad hoc committee was formed in France. I had the privilege of assuming the Presidency for two years, during which 129 Righteous people were named, adding to the 3,029 holders of this honor who already existed.
Is it possible to imagine how emotional the award ceremony of such a diploma makes me, an Auschwitz survivor? All the more so as I was caught in the UNOCCUPIED zone, after being pursued for two hours by a zealous police officer, knowing nothing at all of the grounds for my arrest! Every time, the memory of the scene combines with my infinite admiration for those who risked their lives by saying NO and who simply prioritized their sense of humanity.
My gratitude intensifies for these men and women when I know the tragic destiny they rescued people from and the certain death they protected children from.All that is done to safeguard their memories, the annual pilgrimage of descendants, made to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and organized by the France Israel Foundation, presided over by Nicole Guedj, in collaboration with our committee, should be strongly encouraged.The Nation which possesses such people in its heart could do no less than to engrave their bravery at the PANTHEON.
Samuel PISAR, international lawyer, Ambassador and UNESCO Special Envoy, author of 'Of Blood and Hope.'
"We, the last living survivors of the Holocaust, the greatest catastrophe ever perpetrated by man against man, are disappearing one by one."
Samuel Pisar International lawyer, Ambassador and UNESCO Special Envoy.
We, the last living survivors of the Holocaust, the greatest catastrophe ever perpetrated by man against man, are disappearing one by one. Soon, history will speak about it at best with the impersonal voice of researchers, philosophers and novelists. At worst with the voice of deniers, revisionists, demagogues.
Nobody could survive what we survived without searching for a coherent version of our world, burning again. Without feeling the need to warn our children of the dangers which are accumulating and which could destroy their world as they already destroyed ours. It is with this in mind that I agreed to found and preside over the Comité Français de Yad Vashem (French Committee of Yad Vashem). This Israeli Institute in Jerusalem commemorates the martyrs and the heroes of the Shoah and honors the "Righteous Among the Nations," those non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Second World War.
For me, this work has acquired a great importance because the moral decomposition of contemporary life demonstrates today that we are cruelly lacking Righteous people – in the Balkans, Rwanda, Sudan, Syria and elsewhere. Since the creation of this unique accolade, Yad Vashem has recognized more than 25,000 Righteous people in Europe, of which 3,500 have been in France. I see this action not only as the expression of a great debt towards these noble, generous and often anonymous people, but also as the recognition of their precious contribution to humanity, which is profoundly needed both in the present and the future.
Therefore, the actions of Nicole Guedj and the France Israel Foundation regarding the younger generation with the grandchildren of the Righteous seem very promising to me and full of hope.
Serge Klarsfeld, President of the Association of the Sons and Daughters of Jews deported from France.
"Every Jew saved in France owes this to one or several French people."
Serge Klarsfeld President of the Association of the sons and daughters of Jews deported from France.
Eighty thousand Jews in France were victims of the Shoah. To what is this exception, the survival of three quarters (240, 000) of the Jews in France, owed?
To all the French people who were among the few in Europe to act against their government, when they saw, during the summer of 1942, the French police forces arresting children and their mothers and delivering them to the occupying forces for deportation which they knew to be fatal. This protest against the violation of French traditions was powerfully relayed to the summit of the state by the leaders of the church and succeeded in slowing down the huge police co-operation between Vichy and the Gestapo.Every Jew saved in France owes this to one or more French people.
The Righteous are not only the several thousand honored with the Righteous title by Yad Vashem, they are also the innumerable brave people who reached out to persecuted Jews.
Thanks to the France Israel Foundation, the memory of this tragedy will be transmitted with its shadows but also with its light. This work is invaluable to better understand the real behavior of the French people which is important not be confused with that of the French Vichy State.
RIGHT AT THE END OF A JOURNEY...2012 THE HÉBRAS AND BLUM FAMILIES
"The journey of the grandchildren of the Righteous to Israel, organized by the Foundation over which I preside, has allowed Thierry Durce to meet Gilbert Blum and his family. Nicole Guedj
A journey in time to discover his family's past... The Story of Thierry Durce, great-grandson of Pierre and Louise Hébras, "Righteous Among the Nations."
Pierre and Louise Hébras are Thierry's great-grandparents. In 1943, they welcomed the Blum family (credits: Infolive TV).
Pierre and Louise Hébras set up the Blum family in a cellar and blocked the entrance with a rabbit hutch. They later found them a better hiding place in the attic of a factory.
Louise Hébras with Gilbert Blum and his sister in the 1940s.
The Blum family, saved by the Hébras family.
Gilbert Blum and Marceline Dumont, daughter of the Hébras family, met each other years later in France.
Today, Gilbert Blum lives in Jerusalem.
The meeting between Gilbert Blum and Thierry Durce (credits: France 2).
In 2012, Thierry left his life in Israel for the first time in order to meet Gilbert and his family.
Whilst protecting the Blum family, the Hébras family thought they had saved four lives.
In reality, they had saved 38!
Thierry Durce at the Blum family house in Jerusalem (credit: France 2).
RIGHT AT THE END OF A JOURNEY...2010
THE MASSONNAT AND BADEHI FAMILIES
"At my side, Berthe Badehi, member of the Aloumim Association who was hidden during the war by Marie Massonnat when she was only a child" - Nicole Guedj
The MASSONNAT and BADEHO-ELZON families, united by life!
Marie Massonnat lived in the Savoie region of France, in the village of Le Montcel. At the request of a Jewish family in Lyon, she agreed to hide a young eight-year old girl named Berthe Badehi-Elzon in her home.
At liberation, Berthe found her mother and they emigrated to Israel, but Berthe always maintained a strong tie with Marie and her family. She regularly came to see the name of the woman who saved her on the Wall of the Righteous at the Yad Vashem Memorial.
In 1997, the medal of the Righteous Among the Nations was posthumously awarded to Marie Massonnat. It was given to her children, Marcel Massonnat, Francia Mouchet née Massonnat and Valentine Pignier née Massonnat. Berthe Badehi was also present at the ceremony where she was keen to tell of Marie Massonnat's courage and kindness.
Marie Massonnat's great-granddaughter, Adeline Lelièvre, came to Jerusalem in 2010 with the France Israel Foundation, presided over by Nicole Guedj. She was welcomed in front of the Wall of the Righteous where the name of her great-grandmother is written.
During this journey, Adeline met Berthe again. They were very happy to meet in Israel and paid tribute to Marie and all the Righteous of France.
Berthe, as a member of the Association of "Children hidden during the war," put down a wreath of flowers at the Memorial of the Shoah during the commemorative ceremony. She asked Adeline to accompany her in this symbolic act.
Adeline Lelièvre and Berthe Badehi (credits: Infolive TV).
"She was part of my family and I am part of hers, her grandfather was my brother."
Berthe Badehi-Elzon, about Adeline Lelièvre.
Berthe in France (first photo) and Adeline in Israel (second photo), meals as seen in all the families.
Berthe with her daughter-in-law and her granddaughters in France at the Massonnat family home.
RIGHT AT THE END OF A JOURNEY...2012 THE CAZENAVE AND FRYDMAN FAMILIES
"In memory of the Righteous, Jean and Marie Cazenave, the Frydman family accompanied Léa Cazenave to Israel." Nicole Guedj
Life histories: the CAZENAVE and FRYDMAN families.
Léa Cazenave, Marie and Jean Cazenave's great-granddaughter, recognized amongst the Nations for having saved the Frydman family between 1942 and 1944.
Soumoulou, a small village at the foot of the Pyrenees, where Jean and Marie Cazenave lived.
Marie Cazenave Jean Cazenave
Marie Cazenave was the manager of the bus station where the coach connecting Pau and Tarbes stopped.Jean Cazenave was given the job of delivering telegrams by bike, despite having a bad leg. This job allowed him to operate in the countryside without arousing suspicion.
The vehemence of the Vichy government made the situation very delicate for Jews in Pau, where Pierre and Lalie Frydman decided to live in 1940, having fled Paris under German occupation.
In 1942, the Frydman family explored the villages of Alentours and met at the Soumoulou station.
The Frydman family: from l. to r. Lalie, René, Pierre and Guy Frydman.
They spoke with the manager of the station, Marie Cazenave, who immediately suggested that she would take them in and hide them in different houses in the village.
The Cazenaves' apartment, on the first floor of the station, and in particular the attic, were the most frequently used hiding places.
"With Emilie Hourcade, Marie's mother, the Cazenaves took over the task of finding hiding places and food.
They also took care of transferring people, and all with the greatest secrecy in this community of 300 inhabitants."
"Over the course of three years, the Frydman family escaped from raids thanks to the actions and courage of Emilie Hourcade and Marie and Jean Cazenave."
On November 3, 1943, Lalie Frydman gave birth to her second son, René, in Soumoulou.
Between 1943 and 1944, Lalie walked with René in a pram so that Pierre could see his son from the attic window.
Professor René Frydman in front of the house where he lived on November 3, 1943, in Soumoulou.
Colette Cazenave, Marie and Jean Cazenave's daughter-in-law, received the medal of the Righteous in their names. (credits: N. Sabathier)
On October 23, 2011, Emilie Hourcade and Marie and Jean Cazenave were posthumously honored with the medal of the Righteous Among the Nations.
On this occasion, a plaque was affixed to the post office wall which formerly housed the small bus station in Soumoulou.
Léa and Colette Cazenave, her grandmother.
The Cazenave and Frydman families maintained their strong ties after the war.
A friendship perpetuated by their own children and grandchildren.
Guy (on the left) and his brother René Frydman (on the right) in front of the station where their father Pierre Frydman was hidden by the Cazenaves. They stand around Colette Cazenave, Marie and Jean Cazenave's daughter-in-law. (credits: N. Sabathier)
The Cazenave and Frydman families reunited for the placing of the plaque at the former bus station in Soumoulou. (credits: N. Sabathier)
From left to right: Guy Frydman, Christine Cazenave, Léa Cazenave, Colette Cazenave, Alain Cazenave, René Frydman, Michel Cazenave.
In 2012, during the journey of the grandchildren of the Righteous organized by the France Israel Foundation, René Frydman and his son, Raphaël, accompanying Léa Cazenave to pay tribute to their great-grandparents.
Professor René Frydman and his son, Raphaël, in Jerusalem.
Léa Cazenave, René and Raphaël Frydman in Jerusalem during the journey of the grandchildren of the Righteous, organized by the France Israel Foundation (credits: France 2).
"This story was always told to me as something normal, like nothing out of the ordinary."
Léa Cazenave, Marie and Jean Cazenave's great-granddaughter.
"The France Israel Foundation thanks its partners:
- Le Comité français de Yad Vashem (French Committee of Yad Vashem)
- La Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah (Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah)
- The SNCF (French railways)
- Infolive TV
- The Aloumim Association"
Photographie Simone Veil—Pelletier Micheline, Corbis