Thursday, December 08, 2005
Some more information about the seminar in which I participated. There were a little more than thirty young and not so young researchers of ten or more nationalities. Most of them were historians, but other academic disciplines were represented as well. About half of them presented their current or past research project, but the most important part of the two day event was the social aspect. I got to know some very nice colleagues, and I am sure that I will stay somehow in contact with at least four or five of them. After my presentation I got some very good feedback, especially from the people whose opinion I value highly. There was a strong Israeli ( or at least Hebrew speaking ) 'delegation', about 20 percent I guess. On the first day we visited the Memorial de la Shoah ( which I already know pretty well, I used the opporunity to go and say hi to two friends of mine in the library/archives, yesterday I went back to have lunch with them ) and met with Simone Veil, who presides over the foundation that organized the seminar. She is a very impressive personality. One of the questions that she asked was about the whole restution process in Holland and Belgium in comparison with France, and I was asked to tell something about the Dutch case. On Tuesday, after the seminar, we ( only about half of the participants remained: it was going to end late, and most people had to travel further than Paris ) had a private screening of Belzec, a movie by Guillaume Moscovitz about the extermination camp. For two hours ( and for two minutes after the lights went back on ) there was almost absolute silence, except for the movie`s soundtrack. Most of us were reminded of Claude Lanzmann's Shoah, but the movie has a very distinct character of its own. The most impressive part - except for the interviews with Polish witnesses of what could be seen, heard and smelled from outside the camp, who still live in the village - was the story ( in Hebrew ) of Brakha, the only one of the three known survivors who is still alive. As a seven year old she was smuggled out of the camp in a bread basket, and hidden by a Righteous Gentile - for more than a year, ttwenty months if I am not mistaken - under a pile of wood where she could not move or talk. When she was taken out of the pile she could not stand on her feet, she could only whisper and she had forgotten what the sky was or looked like. You do not have to be a father or mother to imagine how that poor little girl must have suffered, but I could not help thinking about my own daughter when I heard this 70-year old woman tell about her ordeal. The other participants stayed for the night at the center where the seminar had been held, I returned to Paris around 11 PM with Mr Moscovitz and the person who had organized the seminar and the film screening. We talked all the way to Paris, about the movie and its making, Israeli politics and several other subjects. All in all two very well spent days. Yesterday I spent digitally photocopying two microfilmed periodicals ( one of former resisters and deportees, the other of Auschwitz survivors ), I will finish that on Monday. Tomorrow I will be at the Archives Nationales ( they close on Saturday for several weeks ). On Saturday I will sleep late, work on my laptop and see a bit of Paris. On Sunday I will work at the CDJC, on Tuesday I hope to work in the Resistance Museum, on Wednesday I will work at the Alliance, and on Thursday I will leave Paris. Seems like a productive week and a half to me. The weather is very pleasant, coldish but nice, with a little rain now and then but also a lot of sun. The news and Israel and elsewhere I know only from headlines that I see when checking my mail or my weblog. The news can wait another week, although I know that pretty bad things are happening at home. This posting is not edited, so simply ignore mistakes etc.
Posted by Bert at 7:41 PM