The Righteous

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  • During World War II, some 76,000 Jewish people were deported from France to die in Nazi concentration camps. Of that number, 11,400 of them were children. This atrocity happened with the cooperation of the French (Vichy) government that assisted Nazi occupiers in the rounding up and deportation of Jewish men, women, and children, as well as gypsies, intellectuals, homosexuals, artists, the mentally challenged, and other “undesirables.”

    The brutality of this history is remembered at the Mémorial de la Shoah, which is the holocaust museum in Paris. Outside the museum, on the wall of the Allée des Justes, the names of over 3300 ‘Righteous’ are inscribed in bronze plaques.

    A plaque explaining the list of the Righteous reads as follows…

    The names carved on this wall belong to men and women to whom the title of Righteous has been bestowed in recognition of their actions to save Jews in France during the Second World War, at the risk of their own lives. The title of Righteous Among Nations is granted by the State of Israel and awarded by the Yad Memorial in Jerusalem to Gentiles who acted with great courage and selflessness.

    Alone or in organized groups, these men and woman from all political, religious and social backgrounds overcame the indifference that seemed to hold sway in our land and rejected barbarity. They felt a sense of commitment and responsibility toward their fellow human beings. These Righteous, in providing moral and material support, hiding places, identity papers, food and escape routes, helped three quarters of the Jews in France survive the persecutions of the Vichy Government and the Nazi occupiers.

    Thousands of names of men and women, who acted as bravely but anonymously and in total discretion to help Jewish women, children, and men escape, are not recorded here. Their sacred memory lives on in the minds of those they saved and their descendants… We also wish to honour the memory of the Jews who singly or as members of resistance networks fought, under terrible circumstances, to save their community.

    Names are listed on this wall alphabetically beneath the year of attribution of the title of Righteous Among Nations, together with the name of the place where the rescue took place.

    It’s chilling to think of the mindset that sought to exterminate, not just the Jewish people, but also other “undesirable” groups, including homosexuals, artists, and the educated. Groups that might be called ‘the elites’ in today’s political language.

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