Yesterday was the main reason why part of the international Wajsman family was
gathered in Le Mans.
On July 16th 1942, most French Jews were rounded up by the Vichy regime,
interned in a camp in France and then transported to Auschwitz for the final
solution. Among them was my uncle Joseph, 11 years old at the time, his parents
and his two sisters. All perished at Auschwitz—except Joseph, who managed to
escape the internment camp with a friend of similar age. He survived the rest
of the war hiding in a village in the Loire valley, pretending to be just
another village boy, and after liberation he made his life in Le Mans where he
has lived ever since.
Every year, on the Sunday closest to the anniversary of the roundup, there is a
solemn commemorative ceremony on the square in front of the prefecture (seat of
the central government in Le Mans, kind of like the Federal Buidling in an
American city), with a couple of speeches by Joseph and the prefect as the
main events. I have attended it in the past, it is always a very solemn
occasion, and as the years go on, it becomes more and more difficult for Joseph
to deal with the emotions. This year he is 90, and there was some suggestion
from his children that perhaps he should let his son Francis read his speech
for him, but Joseph insisted on doing it himself, and in the end it went very
well. Here are a few images from the ceremony.
The overall setting, Joseph giving the speech at the monument to the victims,
with representatives of veterans in the background:
Joseph wanted to speak flanked by his grandchildren—the continuation of the
family that they represent is very important to him:
The veterans displaing the colours. Notice the Union Jack, once again showing
the bonds across the channel, Brexit be damned:
After the ceremony, flowers were place in front of the monument by various
And then a nice surprise—the family and closest friends of Joseph were invited
inside the prefecture for a personal talk by the prefect and a drink:
After all that, tired but happy, we returned to Joseph’s house a few minutes’
walk away, and had a nice garden BBQ.
PICTURE OF THE WEEK: http://www.fotocycle.dk/paws
"I’m not arguing, I’m just explaining why I’m right"
Themed Olympus Photo Exhibition: http://www.tope.nl/