So that history does not repeat itself! The first Marche de Vie in France exceeded all expectations

There were more than 400 participants, coming from all over France, but also from Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Northern Ireland to walk between the city of la Muette de Drancy and the deportation station of Bobigny.

Drancy, the antechamber of deathRhistoric appeal: 90% of the Jews deported from France passed through the Drancy internment camp, nicknamed the antechamber of death before being transported initially to the Bourget station, then from July 1943 to that de Bobigny, further away from the population which was beginning to worry about the mass departures of Jews to an unknown destination. Crammed into freight cars and regardless of their age or state of health, the Jews were shipped directly to the extermination camps, primarily Auschwitz, where most perished in the gas chambers.

It is therefore in this emblematic place of the deportation in France and one week before the anniversary date of the Vel d'Hiv roundup that Marche de Vie had chosen to place the first March in France.

A large mobilization that brought together local and national elected officials, members of various Christian denominations and the Jewish community, with the active support of AFMA (Association Fonds Mémoire Auschwitz).

During the commemorations at the Drancy and Bobigny sites, Jobst Bittner, founder of the Marche de Vie movement, spoke, followed by Ido Bromberg, representative of the Israeli Embassy.

“At a time when denial is regaining strength in Europe and elsewhere, you recall with this march the horrors that were committed during the Shoah and you testify to the triumph of life over these dark memories. The hidden children who are with us today should take some comfort in seeing Christians, motivated by a spirit of reconciliation, show them sincere friendship.
This march speaks to us of the past and looks to the future by publicly taking a stand against this hatred of the Jews which today as yesterday is animated by the same dark designs. "

Then Philippe Dallier, senator from Saint-Denis, Stéphane Paoli, mayor of Bobigny, Robert Baxter, senior pastor of Le Bon Berger church in Saint-Denis and Bernard Leycuras, president of Objectif France, called to face the rise of modern anti-Semitism, and to act with determination so that history does not repeat itself, many recalling France's strong contribution to the deportation operations.

The spontaneous reaction of the Drancy rabbi, Yves Ammar Haïm:

“What is extraordinary for me today is not only the well-meaning words from memory that we have heard, but that your words come from the heart and touch the hearts. "

They broke "the screed of silence"Finding just words that neither their fathers nor their grandfathers had, descendants of Wehrmacht soldiers broke down in tears because of their family's involvement in the atrocities inflicted on the French people, and on the Jews in individuals. They have broken “the screed of silence”.

The healing

Sylvie and Jacques were able to say, moved and grateful:

“The sound of military boots and the sound of the German language had left a deep mark on our families, with the constant fear of facing violence and threats. Your request for forgiveness shattered the deeds of your fathers and grandfathers, and brought us healing today. "

Solemnity and emotion

The event ended with two highlights:

    All country flags of Jews deported from France were called

  • The song “Tell them” composed for the march of July 9 by Samuel Olivier, songwriter descending from “a hidden child”, sung by him and danced on the rails by a German dance group. Following this intense moment of meditation, Stéphanie Dutertre, president of Marche-De-Vie-France, opened a time of great intensity tribute. All the country flags of Jews deported from France were called up, then all the regions and cities of the participants in the march, and everyone was able to place a rose or a white carnation on the rails: what solemnity in this “incessant” parade, in this procession of memory and love!
  • The call of Jobst Bittner and Bernard Leycuras to stand alongside Israel, according to the biblical words of Genesis 12: 3. The French and German flags symbolically surrounded the Israeli flag in the middle of the participants determined to break the cover of silence: No, we will not submit to intimidation. Yes, we will say that we love Israel, free to say so and without any political considerations in which some would like to lock us.

Refreshments offered by the municipality of Bobigny concluded the day. The "walkers" were able to visit the stands dedicated to the event:

The watercolors of the artist Cendrine Bonami Redler on the Bobigny deportation station

  • A varied choice of books on the theme of the remembrance of the Shoah, presented by AFMA.
  • The “Hannah Book” presented by author Yves Pinguilly and illustrator Marc Majewski.
  • Finally, the book “Briser la chape du silence” presented for the first time in its French version by its author Jobst Bittner.

A successful first walk. It will be followed by many others… To be continued, with great interest!

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