Tuesday, February 13, 2007

During lunch on one of the days that I was working at the archives of the Consistoire I took a walk in the neigborhood and made a picture of this plaque with my mobile phone, at Rue de la Victoire 16. It says "In memory of the students of this school, deported between 1942 and 1944 for being born Jewish, innocent victims of Nazi barbarism and of the Vichy government. More than 300 children from the 9th arrondissement were exterminated in the death camps. Lest we never forget them. May 28, 2004". Similar plaques can be found all over Paris. When it comes to facing the dark corners of their national past the French have come a long way during the last three decades, and some European countries could be taught a lesson or two by France in that respect. Still, notice the phrasing here: "...victims of...the Vichy government", an apparent continuation of the myth that there were somehow two Frances, one represented by Vichy and one by the Free French and their leader in London. Things were a little more complicated than that, I am afraid.

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