Thursday, March 10, 2011

Changed for Good

People being people, I'm sure someone got their panties in a twist over the change in the name of this tiny street in the Marais.  Abutting the Memorial de la Shoah, the renaming goes hand in hand with the creation of a set of plaques commemorating the bravery of Parisians who risked all to protect their Jewish neighbors during the occupation of World War II.  The courtyard of the Memorial is lined with the names of those who perished in the camps; thanks to the justes (the righteous as we would call them in English), the list is thankfully not any longer.  We'd all like to imagine that we would be similarly brave but it's impossible to know how any of us might act under the circumstances.


FrenchTwistDC said...

I went to college (middle school) at Francois Couperin on that street! Good to know the name changed ;-)

Starman said...

It's still difficult to believe the number of Jewish people who were sent to the camps because of their French neighbors. It was not a good time in French history.

Peter (the other) said...

It is the wisdom I find in statements such as "'s impossible to know how any of us might act under the circumstances." that makes your blog even more enjoyable. I wonder if it is reality TV that have made so many of us imagine ourselves judge and jury, or just another aspect of human nature that we should aspire to overcome?

Shelli said...

Just want to point out that 'les justes' listed on the plaques are from all over the country, not just Paris. There were entire villages in the provinces that sheltered Jews.

Yes, there were many French who protected and aided Jews during the Occupation and yes, they should definitely be acknowledged for their bravery and decency.

But we must also note that just across this little street is another plaque, noting that Jewish children who had been students at the school at that site were deported to the death camps.

Plaques like this, which can be found at nearly all the schools in the Marais and at many in other areas, began appearing only after then President Chirac finally acknowledged that the French people were responsible for the acts of the Vichy government.

I blogged in 2009 about one of these plaques just a few blocks away.

Anne said...

Shelli: Thanks for your comment. I blogged about this too back in 2008, interestingly with a very similarly titled post!

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