segunda-feira, setembro 28

Exército francês ensina o Holocausto para recrutas

O exército francês está dando aulas sobre o período do Holocausto na França, com ênfase para a participação francesa na prisão de deportação de judeus feita por policiais franceses sem supervisão ou coação de tropas alemãs. Cerca de 75.000 judeus, 11.000 dos quais crianças, foram deportados para os campos de concentração e extermínio. Menos de 3.000 sobreviveram. Os cursos não se limitam ao exército de mais de 5.000 pessoas incluindo juízes e policiais franceses já passaram pelas mesmas aulas.

French military teaches recruits about Holocaust

PARIS – The French official choked on the words he read to a room of Defense Ministry recruits and swallowed back tears as he tried to kick off an unusual program aimed at teaching about the Holocaust.

The reading, from a young girl whose parents were arrested under the Nazi occupation, went straight to the heart of Friday's seminar on French officialdom's role in the Nazi terror.

"There were only French gendarmes. There were no Germans," read Eric Lucas, director of the ministry's historical agency.

"It poses the question of collective responsibility; but also individual," Lucas said.

The session on genocide awareness — which also included a debate, film and tour of the Holocaust Memorial museum in Paris — is to become regular training for new Defense Ministry officials.

Participants on Friday filed past museum walls etched with the names of thousands of French Jews deported to concentration camps during World War II.

Some 76,000 Jews, 11,000 of them children, were deported from France to Nazi concentration camps. Fewer than 3,000 returned alive.

In 1995, President Jacques Chirac broke with the official position that France's Vichy regime was not synonymous with the French state, and said the nation bore some responsibility for deporting Jews in wartime France.

Chirac's move, along with trials of French collaborationists in the 1990s, helped create a "wave effect" that is gradually trickling throughout French government administrations and society, said historian Marc-Olivier Baruch.

"I hope with all my heart that this situation never arrives" parallel to that of the Nazi occupation, he said. If it does, he encouraged participants to remember French Resistance members who defied their government's orders.

Speakers on Friday did not discuss more recent cases of crimes against humanity, such as Rwanda or Darfur. But the participants raised questions about ways to ward against intolerance in government today. One asked how to respond to a superior's demand to report schoolchildren whose parents are illegal immigrants. A debate arose, with no clear conclusion.

The participants visited the "crypt" beneath the museum holding a black marble monument to the 6 million Jews killed in WWII. Upstairs, they walked past two huge screens showing a railway track and the Drancy train depot northeast of Paris, from where many French deportees were sent away.

Serving as a soundtrack were audio testimonies from survivors of the deportations. "I only cried once, when they said my father had been sent to a camp," said one woman. "It didn't do any good to cry."

More than 5,000 people including French police and judges have gone through similar programs at the museum, first launched in 2005, museum director Jacques Fredj said.

For years German soldiers, officers and civilian employees of the Defense Ministry have attended sessions about the Holocaust, often at memorials or former concentration camps in the country, a ministry spokesman said.

The spokesman also said the German armed forces, or the Bundeswehr, was supporting an Israeli army program called "Witnesses In Uniform" that brings Israeli officers to Germany. Together with German officers, the Israelis visit former concentration camps and Holocaust memorials in Germany.

Austria's Defense Ministry leads Holocaust-related briefings and excursions. At the Interior Ministry, police cadets visit the former Mauthausen concentration camp as part of their training. The Education Ministry, which oversees the country's teachers, offers programs that include study trips to Yad Vashem.

Lucas, in closing his emotional reading of deportees' stories, said: "Our goal is not to condemn or to judge. It is to provide a period of reflection for each of you."

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