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-1997-

1997 After seventeen years of delays, Maurice Papon, wartime secretary general of the Bordeaux Prefecture and organizer of the fatal deportations of more than 1,600 Jews, goes on trial in Bordeaux on charges of crimes against humanity. Papon has been a target of the Klarsfelds for many years but no indictment was possible until a young researcher’s discovery of incriminating documents in 1981. After his wartime activities in Bordeaux, Papon had a stellar political career, rising to become a prefect, a member of Parliament, and minister of the budget in the French cabinet at the time the documents were discovered. Papon’s prominence and the fact that this will be France’s last major war crimes trial bring hundreds of French and European reporters to the court and make the trial a nightly topic on European television news. Among the lawyers in the courtroom representing Papon’s victims is Arno Klarsfeld. On many trial days, Serge and Beate and their supporters stand outside the courthouse in the Bordeaux winter, holding pictures of the children deported on the convoys organized by Papon.
- Reflecting the trial’s impact on the French public and especially the new generation, the medical and bar associations apologize for their wartime expulsions of Jewish members and the national police union apologizes for the arrests of Jews by French police. In a formal statement read at the Drancy camp Memorial, the French Roman Catholic Bishops ask forgiveness for the Church’s failure to act more decisively to defend Jews.
- Working with his American editors, Serge selects photographs and writes text for a traveling exhibit based on French Children of the Holocaust. The exhibit is opened by Serge at the New School in New York and at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Given lengthy reviews in the New York Times and Washington Post, the exhibit goes on to tour many other American cities.
- New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage opens, featuring 1,500 photos from Serge’s collection of pictures of French Jewish children and families deported during the war. The French photographs are prominently displayed as part of the museum’s permanent collection.
- Working with materials collected by the Klarsfelds over a twenty-year period, a Czech group publishes a Memorial book to the 70,000 Jews deported from Czechoslovakia. Serge tells the story of his struggle to obtain deportation documents from Communist authorities in his preface to the English guide to Czech-language Jewish Victims of Nazi Deportations of Nazi Deportations from Bohemia and Moravia.
- Serge is named to the nine-member Matteoli Commission, charged with studying the question of confiscations of Jewish property under the Vichy regime.
- In Jerusalem, Serge is the guest of honor of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Authority, at the convening of the first international conference on gathering, documenting and computerizing the names and personal details of the millions of Holocaust victims.

1998 The Bordeaux court convicts Maurice Papon on more than 500 of the 750 counts in the indictment against him and sentences him to ten years in prison, tantamount to a life sentence for the 87-year-old. Arno Klarsfeld, who dominates the press coverage of the trial and the courtroom activities of the victims’ attorneys, declares the sentence a just resolution of the case. The Papon verdict ends the longest trial in postwar French history, a trial that has had a deep effect on public attitudes toward the Vichy years and the occupation regime’s persecution of the Jews. The trial and verdict vindicate the Klarsfelds’ long struggle to bring Papon to justice. Papon, however, is released on grounds of ill-health pending a decision on his appeal of the verdict.
- Beate and Serge are awarded Doctor of Laws degrees honoris causa by Union College, in Schenectady, New York, for their courage and direct actions in pursuit of justice.

1999 Despite warnings by the Klarsfelds that Papon may try to flee the country, the government rejects their suggestions that he be placed under police surveillance and be deprived of his passport. (Papon has been guarded by police since the verdict, but for protection, not for surveillance.) On the day he is to surrender for reading of the appeals court decision, Papon flees. Discovered in Switzerland a few days later, he is returned to France and imprisoned. Under French law, his flight voids all of his rights of appeal.
- Among the books published by the FFDJF this year is Lettres au Premier Ministre des Orphelins des Déportés Juifs de France-hundreds of personal letters written to the French prime minister by men and women who were orphaned by the arrests and deportations of one or both parents. More than 700 letters were written to Prime Minister Lionel Jospin during the campaign organized by Serge and the FFDJF, and 280 of them are reproduced in the volume. They tell of the broken lives of the children who were left behind, often alone and in the hands of strangers, when their parents were sent to their deaths.
- The orphans’ pension campaign bears fruit when Jospin announces that France will award pensions or indemnities to the children of Jews who died in deportation from France to the Nazi death camps. Serge is present when Jospin reveals the decision, in a speech at the annual dinner of CRIF-the Representative Council of French Jews. Those eligible for the pensions all are older than 55 and many are in financial need. In the end, 14,000 individuals file pension claims.
- Serge publishes two volumes of documents on the role of the International Committee of the Red Cross during the arrests and detention of Jews in France. His work contradicts findings of the official Swiss Bergier Commission on Jewish refugees’ efforts to find safety in Switzerland during the war. The commission believes that 24,000 Jewish refugees were rejected by Switzerland, but Serge asserts that many fewer-about 5,000 persons-were turned back.

2000 Serge and Beate lead demonstrations in Vienna and in Paris against the inclusion of the right-wing party of Georg Haider in the Austrian cabinet’s governing coalition. In Vienna the demonstrations are staged in the Helden Platz and in the street facing the party’s headquarters..
- An exhibition entitled The Jewish Children Deported from France, created by the Klarsfelds from their photographic archive, opens in the Gare de l’Est railway station in Paris. The exhibit then travels to Montpelier and to Lyons..
- The Matteoli Commission publishes its final report and recommendations on France’s response to the Vichy role in the deportations of Jews and thefts of their assets. A commission will be established to investigate claims for pillaged Jewish assets-apartments, bank accounts, businesses, art collections and valuables. A Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah will be created, with an initial capital of $400 million, to fund research on and commemoration of the Holocaust in France. Finally, on July 13, 2000, the decree offering indemnities or lifetime pensions to the children of Jews deported from France will become effective..
- In ceremonies at the Elysées Palace, President Jacques Chirac promotes Serge Klarsfeld to the rank of officer in the Legion of Honor. Chirac declares that his and Beate’s activism, their research and publications and their dogged pursuit of justice, all have been “profound services” to France..
- Serge’s collection of letters, photographs and memorabilia of Georgy Halpern, an 8-year-old seized at the children’s home in Izieu in 1944 and deported, is made part of the permanent exhibit of the Imperial War Museum in London. Opening the museum’s new wing, containing the Georgy collection among materials on the Holocaust, Queen Elizabeth II thanks the Klarsfelds personally for their contribution to the exhibit. The collection is the subject of Klarsfeld’s 1998 book Georgy: One of the 44 Children of Izieu, about the boy and the Izieu home raided on the orders of Klaus Barbie. An English edition of Georgy will be published in the U.S. by Aperture Books in 2001.

2001 In a dramatic joint appearance in a Paris courtroom, the three Klarsfeld lawyer-activists-Serge, his son, Arno, and his daughter, Lida-present evidence at the trial in absentia of Alois Brunner, commander of Drancy and of an Austrian SS anti-Jewish team, who may still be alive in Damascus. Serge has pressed for this trial since forcing a judicial inquiry in 1987, and with it his life has come full circle; it was Brunner’s SS who arrested his father, Arno, one night in September 1943 as the eight-year-old Serge listened from his hiding place. Brunner is known to have survived the war’s end in Germany and to have worked for British and American occupation authorities before escaping to refuge, first in Cairo and then in Damascus. Syria has ignored extradition requests over the years from France, Israel and Germany. Brunner has been tried twice and condemned to death in absentia in the 1950s, but this third trial was ordered on the basis of new evidence presented by Serge: that Brunner organized and carried out the “arrests” of 352 children from Jewish community shelters in the Paris suburbs in July 1944, only weeks before the Germans withdrew from the city. Three hundred forty-five of the children, the youngest of them two weeks old, were deported to the East and 284 of them were murdered. In the courtroom, Lida Klarsfeld reads deportees’ testimony on each convoy that Brunner sent from France to Auschwitz. The court, acting on the basis of more than 50 volumes of evidence, finds Brunner guilty of crimes against humanity and sentences him to prison for life.

2001In Jerusalem, the government of Israel awards Serge Klarsfeld full Israeli citizenship in recognition of his actions in defense of the Jewish people. In Paris, the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah nominates him to be president of its Commission for Links of Memory, responsible for commemorating places of memory and publishing testimonies of the Shoah..
- The Klarsfelds mobilized protests against the state visit to Paris on June 25 of Bashar el-Assad, the Syrian dictator. In the presence of Pope John Paul II, Assad had made a virulent anti-Semitic outburst earlier in the year. Serge warned the president of the Republic that by shaking hands with Assad, he would be granting Assad respectability “worthy of a Goebbels.” While the visit did take place, the protests organized by the Klarsfelds put a spotlight on Assad’s vicious anti-Semitism. Similar protests were planned for Berlin in July

Statement of the Klarsfelds : Once again the United States lead a vast coalition against international terrorism, as they have already done during the second world war. Democracy and freedom shall prevail but once again it will require a long and difficult fight.
- For a long time we have been aware of the threat of an arab will of destruction of Israel. Therefore we have tried to tell the truth to the Arabs on the spot eventhough such a truth was desagreable for them to hear and eventhough it implied taking personnal risks.

  • in february 1975 in Cairo and in Beyrouth
  • after the Yom Kippour War, in january 1974 in Damascus
  • in october 1974 at the summit of the Arab States in Rabat
  • in june 1979 in the Iran of Khomeiny
  • in june 1982 in Damascus
  • in january and in march 1986 in Beyrouth
  • in march 1987 in Damascus
  • in 1988 in Amman
  • in 1990 in Damascus
  • in 1990 at the summit of the Arab States in Algiers
  • in 1991 in Damascus Israel proposed twice Beate Klarsfeld for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 and in 1984.

Today in France in the medias,with the he1p of our son Arno, we continue to defend the cause of Israel explaining patiently and clearly the historical background of the current conflict : in particular how the National Jewish Shelter, created with the agreement of the League of Nations in order to welcome the millions of Jews persecuted throughout Europe, did not play its role, due to the opposition of the Arabs. Those millions of Jews who could not find a place of shelter in Palestine were slaughtered.
- Our son Arno, who is an attorney in law not only in France but also in the United States (member of the Bar of the State of New York and the State of California) publishes regularily editorials in the most important newspapers such as " Le Monde " and " Le Figaro " and expresses his support of Israel in many TV programs.
- We have triggered in France and in Germany, an effective campaign against the officiaI visits of the syrian dictator Bachar El Assad, in Paris and in Berlin. Publishing mobilizing texts in the french and german press we provoked in Paris and in Berlin demonstrations which we organised and which caused in those two countries very desagreable welcome receptions for Assad. We demonstrated also in Brussels in favour of Israel in front of the European Parliament.
- Moreover we managed to have sentenced in abstencia to life imprisonment, by the Paris Criminal Court, the nazi criminal Alois Brunner. Serge Klarsfeld and his children, Arno and Lida, both lawyers, pleaded against Brunner who has found shelter in Syria and whom one ignores whether or not he is still alive.
- We go regularily to Israel, where we commemorated in june 2001 the 20th anniversary of the edification of our Monument in Roglit, the Memorial to the Deportation of the Jews from France, which bears all the names of the 80,000 victims of the Final Solution in France.
- After the French President who promoted Serge Klarsfeld to the rank of Officer of the Legion of Honor, the Israeli Govemment has rendered an exceptional tribute to Serge Klarsfeld by bestowing him the israeli nationality although he does not live in Israel.
- Recently in september 2002, our son Arno received also the Israeli citizenship.
- The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation has sent a contribution to the Twin Towers Fund and also to two israeli families victims of terrorist attacks.

Commemorations - Ceremonies It has been an intense year of commemorations and ceremonies which shall continue until the end of year 2004 for the 60th anniversary of the deportation of the Jews from France.
- Serge Klarsfeld has succeeded to mobilize enough orphans of deportees in order to undertake the commemoration of the eighty convoys which left France for Auschwitz together with the reading of the name of each deportee of each convoy at the place where they left exactly 60 years ago.
- In 2002, we held 6 ceremonies in Pithiviers, 2 in Beaune la Rolande, 2 in Compiègne, 1 in Anger, 1 in Lens and 32 in Drancy. We shall continue with 17 ceremonies in 2003 and 14 in 2004.
- Beyond these exceptionnal ceremonies, we have continued to organize and/or participate in all the numerous ceremonies on the deportation.