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A Jewish Childhood – “Never Forget” The Deportation Memorial, Paris, France Part 2
Monday, 24 June 2013 19:25

How many times have I heard this story, told it, eaten and slept it. I placed myself in mourning.

How would I pack and ready myself for a trip from which there is no return. Only death hopefully, will be that for me. But to die and come back. To be held in bondage and then freed. What would that look like, taste, smell. Would I carve out a new life or like so many others, hollow, bereft with a name and a number on my arm. How many numbers do I memorize? How many passwords do I have? Would I look at my arm with that control? How do I tell it? Like a social security number tattooed, that stays with me or do I embellish it, surround it with a vine, breaking free, with words of praise or go to my death, venom in my mouth, like a mortician’s embalming fluid, that no matter how I try to defrag my being, I cannot.

I have heard stories such as this, that people tell when it is dark and we are in a sound proof room. Only then do they bring them back, all those others who died rather than go through what they had, slit their wrists to bleed out any chance of being used for dire experiments or worse yet consumed, the small of sweat that will never wash off or out.

Pogroms were organized and after “Kristallnacht” November 9 and 10, 1938, the Jews were put into camps. They had been gradually moved from every area of economic, political, cultural and administrative life. They were included completely from German society.

The “final solution to the Jewish question” was applied over the whole of Europe. There were choices in the camps, a life of slave labor, for others death in the gas chambers or by gunshot. I often ask myself, what would I choose, the question still unanswered.

All this was done in secret. No one must know their fate and they would disappear into “the night and the fog.” 84,000 people were deported like this. For France, the staging area was a camp at Drancy, the main transit point, 75,000 Jews of every nationality, including more than 11,000 children, all deported from France.

Groups included so called “inferior” categories, Roma, or gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals and disabled.

Opposite the entrance, a tomb contains the mortal remains of an unknown deportee, who died at the Neustadt camp transferred from the Struthof National Cemetery where it had been taken previously, the body transported to Paris on April 10, 1962.

The triangular insets spaced are all in alignment. They hold urns containing earth from various camps as well as ashes taken from the concentration camp ovens.

There is writing on the walls including extracts from the poems of Robert Desnos who died in the camps in 1945.Fragments of two poems by French poet and French Resistance member Robert Desnos are inscribed on the walls. The first consists of the last stanza of a poem written by Desnos, himself a deportee, pseudonymously and published "underground" in Paris, on Bastille Day 1942, "The Heart that Hated War".

I have dreamt so very much of you,

I have walked so much,

Loved your shadow so much,

That nothing more is left to me of you.

All that remains to me is to be the shadow among shadows

To be a hundred times more of a shadow than the shadow

To be the shadow that will come and come again into

your sunny life.

Thank you for reading my Jewish Childhood Blog.