Jewish memory and education

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Young people speak out

on the tragic fate of Maurice Wajsfelner

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“Maurice Wajsfelner was only eleven years old when his life ended in the concentration and death camp of Auschwitz, on February 6th, 1944” , Jérémy Batkowiak, Céline Marin-Martinez and Cyrielle Tugault explain. Romain Condom states a terrible fact : “ Maurice Wajsfelner was gassed in Auschwitz on February 6th, 1944 ", he writes, " Eleven years old: a very young age to die ! To die in a concentration camp like Auschwitz, that’s horrible ! But to die by poison gas, that’s the ultimate atrocity !”

How can one imagine such a thing ?

Sophie Lemaire and Magali Kaminski find it hard to understand how this could have happened : “ [after his arrest, Maurice Wajsfelner] couldn’t have known what was going to happen to him. How can one imagine a man-made horror, designed to persecute and exterminate the jewish people? “. Vanessa Mervelet asks herself the same question : “ In the 20 th century, it’s nearly impossible to imagine that such a tragedy could have happened, at the present time when freedom is considered to be something normal and when crime is punished”.

Just an ordinary child ?

Vincent Olard and Nicolas De Rop point out that “His parents were people like you and me, free and living beings “. Stéphane Baston and Jérémy Cavagna make a similar point : “ Maurice Wajsfelner was a child like all the others. but he was a jewish child, who had his life stolen from him when he was eleven years old !” Olivier Chrétien adds : “How can people be so cruel as to cause the deaths of others who have done them no harm?”.

Can history serve as an example?

But Aurélie Derigny and Camille Huot Marchand are worried that people might not go further than the mere statement of past horrors ; “ Young people today find it horrible when they’re told about it, but they don’t realize that it can happen again if we’re not careful about who we vote for”. Adrien Guérini and Nuno Da Silva are more direct : “The rise of the front National (a party on the extreme right) shows that history doesn’t serve as an example, because some people are ready to persecute a community to find scapegoats for the problems that still exist in France ! “

The values of life

Faced with the new tide of racist hatred, Isabelle Morin and Cécile Boucher want to affirm the values of life, saying : “We want to live full lives, and we don’t want such horrors to re-occur”. Johanna Zézir and Aurélie Saint-Yves think we should look at the world around us, as it is today : “ It's up to you to judge things as you see fit, but we shouldn’t forget what happened in the past and (we should also look at ) what’s happening today. For instance: racist violence, intolerance, massacres in certain countries such as Zaïre”.

A name that carries memory

Pascal Guerrico and Laurent Arnaud remind us that “The name of Maurice Wajsfelner was given to the high school so that we should not forget the absurd racism that even led to the deportation of children” . Elisa Vandamme and Aurélie Charlot feel that “Maurice Wajsfelner is a fitting name for a high school, because he was ten years old, an age at which he could have entered a school like ours. When we speak of our high school, we’ll think of Maurice and of the millions of Jews who were persecuted”.

Benoît Bouré and Pierre Dubail conclude: " We feel that no-one should forget this, because forgetting would be the end, and all this could happen again”.

(These points of view were written up in 1997 by 9th grade students of the Maurice Wajsfelner high school, whose history teachers are Messrs Henneveux and Natanson).

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Translation : Xavier Kreiss.
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Version française
  • Read about the short life of Maurice Wajsfelner
  •  The snapshot album of a vanished family

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