Further attacks on young French Jews

March 24, 2003

* Masked men pinned her down and carved a Star of David on her arm

 

CONTENTS

1. "Attacked with metal rods and chains"
2. "Two Jewish youths hospitalized after being attacked in Paris" (Ha'aretz, March 23, 2003)
3. "Jewish student attacked in French town" (Ma'ariv, March 13, 2003)
4. "Nazis' human cargo now haunts French railway" (New York Times, March 20, 2003)


“ATTACKED WITH METAL RODS AND CHAINS”

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is a follow-up to previous dispatches on the increase in violent attacks on French Jews which some say are linked to Middle Eastern politics.

I attach 3 articles:

1. "Two Jewish youths hospitalized after being attacked in Paris" (Ha'aretz, March 23, 2003). Two Jewish youths were hospitalized Saturday afternoon after being stabbed in Paris by individuals who had taken part in an anti-war demonstration. One young man was stabbed after a group of men noticed his yarmulke. Another Jew was seriously wounded when passers-by attacked him with metal rods and chains.

2. "Jewish student attacked in French town" (Ma'ariv, March 13, 2003). Three masked men attacked a 21-year-old female Jewish student in the French town of Aix-en-Provence and carved a Magen David (Star of David) on her arm.

3. "Nazis' human cargo now haunts French railway" (New York Times, March 20, 2003). Six decades after his parents were arrested and deported from German-occupied France, an Austrian-born French Jew went to court here to demand that France's national railroad company accept its responsibility and express remorse for transporting Jews to Nazi death camps.


FULL ARTICLES

TWO JEWISH YOUTHS HOSPITALIZED AFTER BEING ATTACKED IN PARIS

Two Jewish youths hospitalized after being attacked in Paris
By Amiram Barkat
Ha'aretz
March 23, 2003

Two Jewish youths were hospitalized Saturday afternoon after being stabbed in Paris by individuals who had taken part in an anti-war demonstration. The separate incidents took place near the Hashomer Hatzair youth group building in the city, in close proximity to Beaumarchais Boulevar and Bastille Square.

One young man was stabbed and lightly wounded after a group of men noticed his yarmulke. He was taken to the hospital for treatment. The attackers are believed to have been immigrants from North Africa. After stabbing the young man, they tried to break in to the Hashomer Hatzair building, but members of the youth group managed to block the entrance.

Fifteen minutes later, a 24-year-old youth group advisor exited the building to address a television crew that had arrived to interview him. After exiting the building, he was seriously wounded when passers-by attacked him with metal rods and chains.

Jewish Agency Chairman Sallai Meridor called on the French government to fulfil its responsibility to provide security for its Jewish citizens and prevent the anti-war demonstrations from becoming anti-Semitic events.

 

JEWISH STUDENT ATTACKED IN FRENCH TOWN

Jewish student attacked in French town
Ma'ariv
March 13, 2003

Three masked men attacked a 21-year-old female Jewish student in the French town of Aix-en-Provence Wednesday and carved a Magen David on her arm.

According to a report on Israel Radio, the student was attacked after having attended a discussion on the situation in the Middle East held in an Aix cinema.

Three masked men called Megli, 21, a "dirty Jew" and proceeded to carve a Jewish star into her flesh. Megli, whose family name has not yet been released, is a student who lives in this quiet French city, had been to the screening of the film Decryptage, which shows how the French media has completely twisted and lied about events in the Middle East to support terrorist Muslims and defame Israel. Megli took part in the heated discussion afterwards. There were many Arab anti-Semites who wouldn't let her speak. She then went out with friends. When she came home, three masked men were waiting outside her door. They assaulted her, and carved the Jewish star into her arm.

 

NAZIS’ HUMAN CARGO NOW HAUNTS FRENCH RAILWAY

Nazis' human cargo now haunts French railway
By Alan Riding
The New York Times
March 20, 2003

Six decades after his parents were arrested and deported from German-occupied France, an Austrian-born French Jew went to court here today to demand that France's national railroad company accept its responsibility and express remorse for transporting Jews to Nazi death camps.

Kurt Werner Schaechter, 82, is seeking just one euro as symbolic compensation from the National Railroad Service, known by its French initials of S.N.C.F. But he hopes the court will require the company to acknowledge that it played an active role in the deportation of some 76,000 Jews from France from 1942 to 1944. Of those sent to death camps, only some 2,500 survived.

At today's hearing, the company's lawyer, Yves Baudelot, said the case should be dismissed since a 10-year statute of limitations applied. Mr. Schaechter's counsel, Joseph Roubache, responded that the statute of limitations did not apply to crimes against humanity. Further, he added, crucial new evidence was discovered within the last 10 years. A ruling is expected May 14.

"I am doing this out of a responsibility to history," Mr. Schaechter said today. "What distinguishes us from animals is our memory. Humanity cannot forget its history."

This case dates back to 1991 when Mr. Schaechter, a retired musical instruments salesman, was searching in France's National Archives in Toulouse for information about his parents, both of whom were killed by the Nazis. Shocked by the evidence he found of French cooperation with the Germans, he violated regulations by removing documents to be photocopied, then returning them to their files. Over nine months, he copied more than 12,000 documents.

Among these was a letter written by the S.N.C.F. and dated Aug. 12, 1944, nine weeks after Allied troops landed in Normandy, demanding payment of 200,000 francs from the regional government of Haute-Garonne in southern France for transporting Jewish detainees from concentration camps to the border with Germany. The letter warned that interest would be charged if payment was not made on time.

This was just one of the myriad documents that Mr. Schaechter used in his long and to date unsuccessful campaign to have France open up its wartime archives, most of which remain sealed. In the early 1990's, when Mr. Schaechter first disclosed the long-buried documents, he was widely criticized by French historians for violating the archives secrecy rules, while many French newspapers either ignored his disclosures or dismissed him as an eccentric. The S.N.C.F. document, however, prompted the company to commission a historian, Christian Bachelier, to study its wartime role. His report was eventually released at a colloquium in 2000.

Mr. Roubache said new documents confirmed that 77 train convoys between March 27, 1942, and July 31, 1944, deported 76,000 Jews to the East. He noted that Mr. Schaechter's father, was on Convoy No. 50 of March 4, 1943, which took him to Sobibor in Poland where he was immediately killed. Mr. Schaechter's mother, Margarethe, was on Convoy No. 75 of May 30, 1944, destined for Auschwitz, where she was immediately gassed.

He said that other documents revealed a series of meetings in mid-1942 at Vichy, headquarters of the collaborationist regime of Marshal Petain, where S.N.C.F. officials made detailed preparations for the deportation of Jews from regions of southern France that were still officially called "free zones" and were ruled by Vichy and not directly by the German occupiers.

These documents, he said, showed the company was eager to hide its activity because the convoys were referred to by the code name of IAPT, the French initials for Israelites, Germans, Poles and Czechoslovaks. The trains were also ordered to stay away from the main stations in Marseille, Avignon and Toulouse where they could be delayed by Quaker and other groups who gave food and water to deportees.

Company officials expressed particular concern about punctuality, noting that this was complicated by last-minute changes in instructions provided by German and Vichy authorities. One document specified that S.N.C.F. officials were responsible for closing and locking the doors of wagons carrying the deportees.

Until recently, the railroad company has benefited from the perception that it played a heroic role in the Resistance, an image reinforced by the fact that some 8,900 railroad workers were executed for fighting the occupiers and that the company itself was awarded the Legion d'Honneur after the war. Today, Mr. Roubache pointedly paid homage to the company's "martyrs" and stressed that his charges were directly exclusively at the company's top administration.

He also asked why, even now, the S.N.C.F. felt unable to follow the example of the country's bishops, lawyers and police, who in recent years have sought forgiveness for their actions or silence during the Nazi occupation. In 1995, President Jacques Chirac himself for the first time recognized that "the criminal madness was supported by the French and by the French government."

Speaking for the S.N.C.F., however, Mr. Baudelot argued that the its role in transporting deportees was widely known during and after the war. He also noted that the company was required by the Armistice Convention signed between Germany and France in 1940 to put all its staff and equipment at the disposal of the occupation forces.

A separate case was brought against the S.N.C.F. before a United States district court in New York in 2000 by 10 American plaintiffs whose families were deported from France along with three other plaintiffs representing some 300 participants of a class action lawsuit. The group brought charges of crimes against humanity against the S.N.C.F. and sought damages.

However, in November 2001, the federal court granted a S.N.C.F. motion to dismiss the case when it accepted the company's defense of sovereign immunity. Last summer, the plaintiffs appealed the ruling and a hearing was held in October. A decision on the appeal is now awaited.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.