Who was Maurice Wajsfelner ? Two students explain
The best way of knowing who Maurice Wajsfelner was is to listen to
Amandine SELHUM and Mariem EBBOU, two ninth grade students from the
secular high school
which bears his name. Their speech was read out during a national
meeting or the ARAC (the Republican Association of War Veterans ) in
the Town Hall square in Crouy, in front of assembled inhabitants of the
town, together with war veterans and youngsters from the high chool, on
May 24th, 1997.
“We are here today with the ARAC to commemorate the two world wars. During World War 2, the nazis were responsible for great devastation. The deportation of thousands to the death camps will stay for ever deeply etched in people’s minds . Among all those who were deported, we will tell you today about a child, Maurice Wajsfelner, who was not yet eleven years old when it happened to him.
He was jewish and lived in Crouy. He went to the Town Hall primary school, and was about to start his first year in high school. He was born in June 1933, the year when Hitler came to power in Germany.
After After WW 1, his parents had emigrated from Poland, and settled in Crouy around 1934-35. In 1940, France was occupied by the nazi army. In 1942, the deportations started. The nazis and those who collaborated with them started a “manhunt”.
The Wajsfelners had moved from the café called today “le petit Vatel” to go and live in the Rue Saint Quentin in Soissons. Maurice’s mother was arrested on July 17th, 1942, at 6 a.m. His father fled by climbing on to the roof. The French police didn ‘t arrest Maurice, probably because they thought he was too young: at the time, he was only nine years old. Meanwhile, Maurice’s older brother, Charles, was in the Free (non occupied) zone of France. His father made him return to Soissons. He persuaded him to go with him to the gendarmerie to find his mother. Charles was reluctant but finally accepted. They were sent to Drancy (a holding camp in France), then put in a convoy that arrived on July 29th, 1942 at Auschwitz where they met a terrible death.
As for Maurice, he stayed with his aunt and his cousin who, up to then , were living in the same flat as the Wajsfelners. We do not know what Maurice did during the one and a half years of his life. But what we can be sure of is that Maurice did not have the normal life of a ten year old, which he was entitled to. We can imagine that he didn’t have fun in the way that ten year old children can have fun today .
In January 1944, the Gestapo came to fetch Maurice and the Gochperg family who were giving him shelter. They were sent to the camp in Drancy, and from there to their deaths in Auschwitz. The small daughter of the Gochpergs was among them. She was only four years old, and was not spared.
How can one extinguish the lives of thousands of people, without even any sense of shame?
We, the young, cannot understand how neo nazis today can still believe in ideologies of this kind. How can they wish to start everything again, in the same way as fifty years ago? Have they forgotten this tragedy ? Or do they simply not want to think about it ? And yet, these things did happen, and it’s already a crime not to be conscious of it or, as some do, to say that it was a mere detail !
Fortunately, the number of people assembled here today shows that many certainly don’t want to forget, and don’t want to live through it again ! “
1990, the secular high
school in Cuffies, near Soissons, was named Maurice Wajsfelner High
School. The school’s principal, Mrs Sylvette Calloni,
students of the school in 1990 telling them that this name meant
commitment for all of you, because you now carry a memory”.