Saturday, 25 February 2012

# 52 [24 November 2009]

Please click on 'Reverse Order' to read all five sections of the interview in order.

Interview with Norbert Herz, Holocaust survivor and Rivesaltes intern.

Section Five

JMI’m finding the recent interest in the Holocaust fascinating, but in France it is extremely difficult to talk about the Holocaust.

NHWho are you talking to? French people?

JMThey always say: “Why are you making work about that? That’s in the past?”.

NHAre they Jewish or non-Jewish?


NHThere you are, of course, that figures because it is a nasty past and it is a past they they don’t want to think about. Yes, yes . . . yes.

His experiences have provoked many thoughts and feelings in me:

I have visited the Alexanderplatz in Berlin many times from our house near Rivesaltes - he made the journey from Berlin under traumatic circumstances not knowing what lay ahead. His experiences must have been difficult for a young boy.

I looked up all the places that he lived in during the war, what struck me is that they are in idyllic parts of France. He managed to eek out an almost 'normal' existence in the 'Residence assignée' and foster homes only then to be taken to another internment camp, not far away physically, but far removed from the safety of the homes.

Fortunately the ending is a relatively happy one as he was reunited with his parents and was able to settle in Palestine.

I wonder though, whilst he was a teacher in Manchester, did he ever disclose his story? Did people know the horrors he had experienced?

And finally, visiting the south of France in the late 80s / early 90s must have been difficult for him, the same place but under very different circumstances. When I asked him if he would visit the camp again when the memorial is finished he said that if he is still able to travel he would be interested to come.

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