Beate Klarsfeld Foundation

serge beate
was established to bring to justice Nazi criminals, to oppose crimes against humanity, to help Jewish people where persecuted, to identify important documents and preserve a historic record.

Chronology 1984-1997

1984 Beate flies to Chile to protest the seeming immunity of Walter Rauff, former SS colonel and technical director of the program to exterminate Jews in mobile gas vans, who lives freely in Santiago. Beate demonstrates illegally in front of Rauff's house and in front of the Presidential Palace of La Moneda. She is twice arrested by General Augosto Pinochet's police. Ironically, a few weeks after the demonstrations, Rauff dies.
- In Paraguay, Beate publicly denounces the protection granted to Josef Mengele, director of the Auschwitz medical experiments on prisoners, among them many children. Mengele was given asylum in the 1960s by the Paraguayan dictator, Alfredo Stroessner. Her Asuncion protest is the first unauthorized demonstration held in Paraguay in 17 years.
- With the Asuncion protest Beate becomes the only individual to publicly denounce all five South American dictatorships in their own capitals-Bolivia (1972), Argentina and Uruguay (1977), and Chile and Paraguay (1984).
- A few months apart, Serge and Beate are named to the Legion of Honor by French President Mitterrand. They are jointly awarded the prestigious Prize of the Foundation of French Judaism.
- Beate returns to Paraguay, this time with Americans Elisabeth Holtzmann and Menahem Rosensaft, to press the case against Mengele. She demonstrates against General Stroessner and places ads in Paraguay and Brazil offering rewards for information leading to the arrest of Mengele. Soon after her trip, Mengele's death in Brazil is confirmed by German investigations.
- Serge discovers what will turn out to be a key piece of evidence in the Barbie trial: the original telex announcing the liquidation of a Jewish children's home in the remote Rhone Valley hamlet of Izieu, 50 miles east of Lyons. The April 6, 1944 telex to the Gestapo in Paris confirms that all the children have been arrested and is signed by Klaus Barbie.
- Serge publishes Les Enfants d'Izieu (published as The Children of Izieu by Abrams) about the children who were murdered as a result of Barbie's raid. Richard Bernstein, writing in the New York Times (Dec. 18, 1984), describes the book in these words:
- The story of the 44 children, how they came to Izieu, how they lived there, how they died, and most important, exactly who they were and what they were like, is the subject of a detailed and highly personalized chronicle that was published here today. Called "The Children of Izieu: A Jewish Tragedy" the 128-page, large format book covers a tragic event that has been known in outline since the end of World War II. But it adds a richness of detail-photographs, letters, birth certificates, accounts of daily life-that gives each of the victims a concrete identity, removing their murder from the realm of abstract evil to that of the wrenchingly particular.
- In New York, Beate shares the Jabotinsky Prize for "outstanding service in defense of the rights of Jewish people" with Anatoly Sharansky and Yehudah Blum.

1985 Arno Klarsfeld's grandson, Arno-David Klarsfeld, is born to Serge and Beate in Paris.
The Klarsfelds succeed in getting West Germany to make a formal request to Syria for the extradition of Alois Brunner. Serge publishes the second volume of Vichy-Auschwitz, covering the Vichy-Nazi collaboration in 1943-44, and the Beate Klarsfeld Foundation publishes The Struthof Album, on the results of medical experiments on prisoners at the camp of that name in Alsace.
- 1986 Beate spends four weeks in West Beirut, offering herself as a substitute for five Lebanese Jews kidnapped and held hostage by a terrorist group that calls itself Organisation of the Oppressed on the Earth. Contacts with the terrorists do not succeed. After several of the hostages are killed, Serge travels to West Beirut to denounce the barbarity of the murderers on the spot. His life is threatened by enraged terrorists but members of the French Embassy's special security force intervene and bring him to safety in East Beirut.
- After ex-UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim is exposed as a former Nazi officer whose command played a role in mass killings and reprisals in Yugoslavia, Beate is arrested repeatedly in Austria while campaigning against his candidacy for the Austrian presidency.
- Farah Fawcett stars as Beate and Tom Conti as Serge, in "The Beate Klarsfeld Story," telecast by ABC in the U.S. and shown in many other countries.
- The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation publishes a twelve volume collection, Documents Concerning the Fate of Romanian Jewry During the Holocaust.
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1987 -

Serge obtains Interpol's support in the Brunner case; it is the first time that the international police organization intervenes in the case of an accused Nazi criminal. Beate goes to Damascus again to protest the refuge given Brunner and this time she is expelled on arrival. Barbie's trial begins in Lyons. Serge is one of the forty lawyers representing the Gestapo chief's victims and in his summation he describes each of the 44 children taken from the children's home in Izieu on Barbie's orders. These are the children whose "arrest" Barbie confirmed in his telex to the Gestapo in Paris April 6, 1944. None survived deportation. Serge ends each description with the same refrain: "Sami did not return. . . . Max did not return. . . .Egon did not return. . . ." It is an argument that Barbie's lawyer, Jacques Verges, finds hard to rebut. Barbie is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Serge is cheered and applauded as he walks from the courthouse at the end of the two-month trial. Returning to the case of Kurt Waldheim, now Austria's President, Beate, together with the American rabbi Avi Weiss, demonstrates in Rome against his visit to the Pope. A month later she is arrested in Amman while protesting Waldheim's visit to King Hussein. Arno Klarsfeld is severely beaten in Paris at a rally of the extreme right-wing French party, National Front, when he jumps on the stage near party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen wearing a T-shirt with the legend: "Le Pen Nazi." Beate goes to Buenos Aires to submit new evidence against Josef Schwammberger, a former Nazi accused of directing the liquidation of the ghetto of Przesmysl, in Poland. Argentina extradites Schwammberger to West Germany, where he is tried, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. The Beate Klarsfeld. Foundation publishes a five volume collection of documents bearing on the destruction of the Jews of Grodno, in Byelorussia. 1988 Since West Germany appears to be powerless to obtain Alois Brunner's extradition from Syria, Serge lodges a complaint against Brunner in Paris for crimes against humanity. As a result, France demands Brunner's extradition by Syria and issues a warrant for his arrest. Beate demonstrates against Waldheim in Austria several times. In June, she and Arno are arrested in Vienna. During a visit by the Pope to Waldheim, Arno appears at an official event wearing a Nazi uniform identical to the one Waldheim wore. He is arrested and sentenced to ten days in prison. Beate is arrested again in Istanbul with Rabbi Avi Weiss while protesting a Waldheim visit to Turkey. Arno completes his law studies and is admitted to the Paris Bar. Beate is arrested in Algiers the day before an Arab summit meeting opens. She had planned to unfurl a banner with the legend: "Full recognition of the state of Israel is the first step to peace." She is deported.

1989 Eight missing deportation lists are found by Serge in Prague, completing the research information he needs for publication of his Memorial to the Jews Deported from Bohemia-Moravia. Beate and Serge are awarded the Raoul Wallenberg Prize. Serge sues Rene Bousquet, former head of the Vichy police, for crimes against humanity. The Klarsfelds' efforts to bring Jean Leguay to trial are halted by Leguay's death from natural causes. However, the Paris public prosecutor issues a statement confirming the substance of the Klarsfelds' accusations of Leguay's guilt for aiding the arrests and deportations of Jewish families while he served as Bousquet's delegate in the Occupied Zone. In a ceremony in Paris, Serge shares the first Prix de la Mémoire with a new Nobel Prize-winner, the Dalai Lama. The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation publishes two important works. The first is Eyes of a Witness: David Olere, a Painter in the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz-Birkenau, a catalogue by Serge Klarsfeld of David Olere's paintings and sketches. The second book, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, by Jean-Claude Pressac, is a large-format reproduction of gas chamber blueprints and a reference work on their construction.

1990 Serge goes to Damascus to try to press for action on Brunner's extradition. But Brunner is still protected by the Syrian regime and after three days Serge is deported by the Syrian police. After three trips to Budapest, Serge obtains documents from Hungarian authorities that include detailed files on 35,000 Jews killed, many of them when used as human mine detectors by the so-called working battalions of the Hungarian army, The documents include evidence of Nazi war crimes in Hungary. Arno Klarsfeld goes to Amman where he tries for 15 days to get into Iraq to intervene for Westerners held as hostages. After completing his LLM-Master of Law-degree at New York University, Arno, now 24, passes the bar examination and is admitted to the New York Bar. A sharp polemic breaks out between Serge and Georges Kiejman, the newly named deputy justice minister, about the case of Rene Bousquet. Serge publicly attacks President Francois Mitterrand for opposing a Bousquet trial and calls on Kiejman to resign rather than protect Bousquet against trial. Kiejman, a respected trial attorney, is a Jew whose father was deported and killed. There is increasing public awareness of Mitterand's own career as Vichy's official in charge of war veterans' affairs. Despite the government's opposition, a Paris court decides the Bousquet case must be pursued. After defending his thesis on "The Final Solution of the Jews in France," Serge is awarded the highest French university degree, Docteur d'État habilité a diriger les recherches, qualifying him as a professor in contemporary history.

1991 The Paris Court of Appeals rejects the government's plan to send the case against Bousquet to the long-dormant Special High Court of the Liberation as tantamount to dismissal of the case. The appeals court reinstates the Bousquet indictment and accepts the Klarsfelds' demand that it be tried in criminal court.
- Jacques Correze resigns as head of the L'Oreal cosmetic company's U.S. distribution company after Serge substantiates charges that he worked with the Gestapo to loot and seize Jewish property, apartments, shops and buildings in 1941. More recently, Correze engineered the ouster of Jean Frydman from the management of a subsidiary of L'Oreal to satisfy demands of the Arab League Boycott Office in Damascus. Frydman, a former French Resistance member, was a resident of Israel. Correze dies of cancer hours after his resignation.
- Beate returns to Damascus again to press for a Syrian response to France and Germany's now joint demand for the extradition of Alois Brunner, known in Damascus as Georg Fischer. She is arrested and expelled after publicly demonstrating in front of the Syrian Interior Ministry. Following the revival of the Brunner controversy, French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas cancels a planned visit to Syria.
- Working in the archives of the Secretary of State for War Veterans, in Val-de-Fontenay, Serge discovers cards from the original Jewish index created by the Paris Prefecture of Police at German orders in the fall of 1940. The "fichier juif," based on the Jewish census carried out at local police stations, was the master index used by police to locate Paris Jews in their homes during the night-time roundups that led to detention in Drancy and deportation to the East. Although the Paris Prefecture of Police burned most of its files dealing with the wartime persecution of Jews in the late 1940s, two files from the Jewish card index were transferred to the then-Ministry for Veterans and War Victims. Serge judges that the cards were the remains of the original master index created and maintained by the police during the war and that these specific cards were taken from the master file when the Jewish individuals or families they listed were arrested.
- Inspired by Serge's 1978 Memorial book of Jews deported from France, a similar Memorial to the Jews Deported from Italy is published with Serge's assistance by Dr. Liliana Picciotto-Fargion and the Jewish Documentation Center in Milan.

1992 Serge, Beate and Arno lead a group of French Jews to Rostock, Germany to demonstrate against an agreement for the deportation of Gypsies from Germany to Romania. The Klarsfelds choose Rostock for their protest because of recent rightist riots against Romanian Gypsies and an arson attack on the refugee center where they lived. Other assaults on foreigners followed the Rostock attacks. The French protesters, four of whom are arrested, note that the German-Romanian accord is reminiscent of the deportations of both Gypsies and French Jews during the war.
- A "Memory Train" organized by the Klarsfelds and the Sons and Daughters organization carries 1,000 French Jews and supporters from Paris to Oswieczim, Poland, site of the Auschwitz death camp. The train, marking the 50th anniversary of the mass deportations of Jews, follows the route the deportation convoys took from Drancy, near Paris, across France and through Germany, into the Silesian region, now again part of Poland.
- In Paris, an exhibit entitled Le Temps des Rafles-The Time of the Roundups-prepared by Serge and FFDJF militants Jean Corcos and Hubert Cain, opens at the City Hall and begins to tour French cities.
- The major war crimes cases sought by the Klarsfelds progress through the French courts. In two cases, those of Maurice Papon and Rene Bousquet, a Bordeaux court confirms the indictments and schedules trials. In the third case, that of Paul Touvier, the fugitive Vichy Milice official, a Paris court rules that his murders of seven Jewish prisoners were not crimes against humanity because the Vichy regime did not seek "ideological hegemony," a requirement for such indictments. There is a storm of public protest and it appears that the case is not over.

1993 Serge and Beate continue their campaign on behalf of the Gypsies subject to deportation from Germany to Romania and the former Yugoslavia. They travel to Germany several times, speaking at rallies of up to 100,000 people in Bonn, Munich, Frankfurt, Nuremburg and Cologne. Arno Klarsfeld becomes the Gypsy people's attorney, representing the Roma and Cinti Congress before the European Community.
- Le Calendrier de la Persécution des Juifs en France, 1940-1944 (The Calendar of the Persecution of Jews in France, 1940-1944), a day by day chronology of the Holocaust in France, is published by Serge to the acclaim of Le Monde and other major newspapers. The Calendrier's 1,300 pages describe and document the creation of the Vichy government's anti-Jewish program and Vichy's collaboration with the Nazis and the execution of these policies on the Jewish population of France. The Calendrier becomes the most graphic and complete history of the Holocaust in France.
- President Francois Mitterrand decrees that July 16, the starting date of the mass roundups of Jews in 1942, will be a national day of remembrance of Vichy's "racist and anti-Semitic persecutions." Mitterrand, who has been assailed by the Klarsfelds for his refusal to acknowledge France's complicity in the wartime deportations, orders Memorial plaques to be erected in every départment of France and ceremonies to be held annually in remembrance of the persecutions. Serge asserts that Mitterrand's decree means "we now have an explicit and solemn condemnation of the crimes of Vichy."
- Ironically, just five weeks before the first July 16 ceremonies, a deranged gunman shoots and kills René Bousquet, the Vichy police chief who planned and coordinated the July 16, 1942 roundups of Jewish with the Nazi authorities. A Bousquet trial had been demanded and prepared by the Klarsfelds for years, but President Mitterrand, a personal friend of Bousquet's, had blocked court action. The gunman, Christian Didier, 49, a frustrated writer who is not Jewish, asserts he killed Bousquet "to do something good for humanity." Serge, however, declares that France's Jews wanted Bousquet to face justice in a court.

1994 Paul Touvier finally faces justice in a Versailles courtroom for his execution of seven Jews in 1944 while a leader of the armed Vichy Milice in Lyons. Among the lawyers representing the victims is Arno Klarsfeld, who, disregarding his colleagues, insists Touvier is guilty of willfully murdering the seven Jews rather than acting under German orders, as specified in Touvier’s indictment for crimes against humanity. Arno asserts that if Touvier is judged to have acted under orders it might be viewed as extenuating his guilt. The other lawyers fear a weakening of the indictment. Arno’s position is vindicated; Touvier is the first Frenchman to be convicted of crimes against humanity and is given a maximum sentence of life in prison.
- After years of painful research, Serge publishes Le Mémorial des Enfants Juifs Déportés de France-The Memorial to Jewish Children Deported from France-a 1,550-page collection of photos of more than 2,000 of the 11,400 children seized, most of them by French police, and deported to Nazi death camps. Only 300 of these children were found alive in 1945. In his preface, Serge tells of the shame he felt when he found that some of these children died nameless, too young to tell anyone who they were, and that 35 years after the war their names still were not known. The book is the result of his obsession to find all of their names and as many of their photos as he can. (Photos of an additional thousand of the children are found later and published in supplements.) The children’s Memorial has a striking impact on France’s Jews.
- In a televised interview before leaving office, President Mitterrand concedes that he used his authority to delay investigations and trials of accused war criminals. Asked about the charges he intervened in these cases, he replies, “Absolutely. It’s true, but these kinds of judicial procedures reopened all the wounds.” Commenting on Mitterrand’s assertion that he would not have intervened in Bousquet’s trial, Serge charges that his interference in the case was in the pre-trial phases and blocked the trial as long as possible.

1995 President Jacques Chirac becomes the first French leader to acknowledge France’s responsibility for the arrest and deportation of Jews from France to Nazi death camps. Speaking at ceremonies marking the 53rd anniversary of the Vel D’Hiv roundups begun in Paris July 16, 1942, Mitterrand’s successor admits France committed a “collective error” when its police and officials collaborated in the deportations. “France, the homeland of the Enlightenment and of the rights of man, a land of welcome and asylum, on that day committed the irreparable,” Chirac said. “Breaking its word, it handed those who were under its protection over to their executioners.” Referring to the victims, Chirac added, “we owe them an everlasting debt.” The Chirac statement comes after years of campaigning by the Klarsfelds for an unambiguous admission of France’s complicity in the deportations of Jews. Serge declares that “this speech contained everything we hoped to hear one day.”
- The day before Chirac’s apology, Serge opens a campaign for restitution of the property, money and valuables taken from Jewish deportees and not returned to their surviving children or other relatives after the war. France confiscated all the possessions of deportees it could find and “the families of the deported never got anything back,” Serge asserts. “The Fourth Republic [Vichy’s successor after the war] simply took their property, jewelry and objects. They stole money from parents and then did not pay it back to the children.” Klarsfeld asserts the property taken includes businesses, apartments, bank accounts and art collections. Nor did France pass on to deportees’ surviving children the reparations paid by West Germany after the war for the deportation and murder of foreign Jews deported from France. Serge declares it is time for France to make amends.
- Serge broadens the restitution campaign, proposing the French government pay a monthly pension to Jews orphaned by their parents’ arrests and deportations from France. He declares, “I believe the most important thing is obtaining a pension for some 10,000 to 15,000 Jewish war orphans, many of whom are retired or near retirement today.” Noting that many of the individuals orphaned as children were “of modest means” today, he asserts, “I want to show that Vichy wronged these people emotionally and materially.”

1996 Serge travels to Bosnia to confront Bosnian Serb leaders accused of war crimes in the genocidal “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims from the former Yugoslav province. In the Bosnian Serb capital of Pale, he calls on President Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic to surrender to the Hague Tribunal for trial. He declares that their guilt seems self-evident “as war crimes and acts of genocide have been committed by. . . [forces] directly under their authority.” He urges them to surrender rather than to be hunted down. Serge is held by police, interrogated, and ordered to leave Pale.
- An English-language edition of Serge’s Mémorial aux Enfants Juifs Déportés de France, entitled French Children of the Holocaust, is published by New York University Press and is given major reviews and articles in the New York Times and London newspapers, the Manchester Guardian, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. This new edition contains photos of more than 2,500 of the lost children in nearly 2,000 pages.
- Paul Touvier dies in prison at the age of 81.