"Freedom is not a gift from Heaven--one must fight for it every day."
Chirac acknowledges role of French State in the Holocaust
The French President Jacques Chirac, long after the war had ended, admitted that French-owned - not German -trucks took Jews to the trains and death camps.
FRENCH JEWS HAD LONG CAMPAIGNED FOR THE FRENCH REPUBLIC TO RECOGNIZE IT WAS THE STATE AND NOT AN ILLEGAL REGIME THAT SENT JEWS TO THEIR DEATH.
France had been the center of the Enlightenment movement and the French philosophers aimed at changing society by applying rational analysis to
existing social and political problems.
The leading figure in the movement, which included Diderot, Montesquieu, and Condorcet, was Voltaire.
All attacked the oppressive practices of Christianity and the Inquisition.
Theoretically, they all favored toleration of the Jews and denounced
persecution, but Voltaire also attacked Jewish "particularism, "stubbornness, perversity, and greed."
FRENCH CHILDREN OF THE HOLOCAUST: A MEMORIAL, BY NAZI-HUNTER SERGE KLARSFELD
In "French Children of the Holocaust," published in English by the New York University Press, Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld, who brought Klaus Barbie to justice in 1983 and told Betty about the deportation of her mother and brother, has created a volume of documentary importance (photographs of and from the book appear in our albums).
Photographs of over 1,300 of the 11,000 Jewish children (Michel among them) who were deported from France to Auschwitz and other death camps, gathered from surviving relatives and family friends, bring to life the brief biographies of these young doomed people.
One of the first laws that affected Jewish students was the "Law against overcrowding in German schools and universities" of 25 April 1933 that restricted the number of Jewish children in schools, not to exceed 1.5 percent of the total number of students.
Jewish children of war veterans and those with anon-Jewish parent were initially exempted. Many schools placed Jewish students on vacation in April 1933, a temporary expedient while awaiting legislative developments.
These decrees escalated in intensity shortly after the November 1938 pogrom ("Kristallnacht" Crystal Night).
The consequences - as we know so well - were to follow.