Memorial and cultural trip to Izieu and Pérouges

For the first time, members of the Republic’s various national orders (Legion of Honor, National Order of Merit, Order of Academic Palms, Order of Agricultural Merit) shared a memorial trip in the department of Ain.

The first goal was to visit the Maison d’Izieu, the Museum-Memorial of the Children of Izieu, unique in France commemorating the deportation of Jewish children, approved and expedited since the end of 1943, (this was in fact previously forbidden in this region under the control of the Italian state under the division of French territory between Hitler and Mussolini respected until the end of 1943).

Under the guidance of scientific guides, the group discovered the story of this reception site and the tragedy experienced by 44 children gathered on the morning of April 6, 1944.

After the vote on anti-Semitic laws by Pétain’s government, from 1941 to 1942, the Jewish children had very often been sent south, in reception families or reception centers, such as Hérault is managed by the child welfare service. Organization (OSE). It is to this organization that a couple of Polish and Russian origin, Miron and Sabine Zlatin, who were naturalized French in 1938, turned to, after their retreat to the south, near Montpellier, to help these children from ‘Herault. Respectively, an agricultural engineer and a military nurse at the Red Cross, they were quickly given permission by the sub-prefect Belley, in Ain, to rent a house in the small village of Izieu: “Here you will be quiet! He had told them.

Between May 1943 and April 1944, more than a hundred children will be welcomed there for stays of a few weeks to several months. “We laughed there, we played there, we sang there,” testify the elders of the children’s colony in Hérault, as the villagers called it.

Sabine Zlatin had, after the summer holidays, obtained the opening of a school class, and a duly appointed teacher taught there according to the principle of a single class with children of all ages; the children’s letters to their parents testify to their progress and their pride in learning to read, write and count; everyone says they hope to find them soon. Many games and meetings with children from other nearby colonies were arranged during the holidays.

It should be noted that this legally authorized and officially organized reception was known by all, the authorities and the locals; the latter showed particular solidarity by supplying them with vegetables, eggs, fruits, cheeses; the director, Miron Zlatin, conducted his fundraising rounds in exchange for food stamps collected for the kids. It is also through his silence that the whole village was able to protect these children.

That is why the arrest early in the morning of April 6, 1944 of the 44 children and 7 educators who were there, by order of Klaus Barbie, deeply affected the inhabitants of the village, especially the nearest neighbors, the Perticoz family. , where children often came to play. It was during the trial against him in 1987, made possible by the actions of Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, assisted by two mothers of children deported from Izieu, and by Sabine Zlatin, that Klaus Barbie, head of the Gestapo in Lyon, was definitively recognized as the instigator of this roundup, qualified as a crime against humanity, and that he was sentenced to life in prison.

After recalling the successive commemorations since 1946 of this tragic event and the inauguration of the “Musée-Mémorial des enfants d’Izieu” on April 24, 1994 by President François Mitterrand, the guides invited visitors to explore the very rich exhibitions in the new buildings adjacent to the house, in particular the exhibition “Colors of Carelessness”, which presents letters and drawings of children from the Maison d’Izieu, exceptionally lent from the French National Library.

At the end of this visit, the ceremony took place in memory of these deported Jewish children; the participants and the flag bearers went to the frame that the French Republic had put on. After a minute of silence, Chantal Bocquet read the names of the 44 children, deported and exterminated in Auschwitz. A wreath of white flowers was laid by Jacqueline Roux, president of the Legion of Honor section, Michel Tourette, president of the National Order of Merit section, Huguette Portal, president of the Academic Palms Order, Michel Ramousse, representing the section of the Order of Agricultural Merit, before the song about Marseillaise ends this meditation time.

Leave a Comment