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Published on 9 February 2018

#Crif #Auschwitz - Remembering

On February 4, 2018, Crif organized a memory trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps. More than 200 people participated in this exceptional day, which marked everyone's memories. A delegation of officials and public figures also accompanied the president of Crif, Francis Kalifat. Throughout the week, Crif invites you to live or relive this memorable journey so that we become all the witnesses of the witnesses.

17h, commemorative monument Auschwitz II - Birkenau.

The visit of the immense Birkenau ends as darkness falls on the camp. The mantle of the night soon covers everything that was Birkenau.

All the groups are heading towards the bottom of the camp, to meet in front of the memorial which seems to put an end to the tragedy of the Shoah. It was obvious for the Crif to conclude this day of memory with a solemn and sober gathering. The president of Crif, Francis Kalifat, begins a speech striking and full of accuracy, taking care to shelter his text of the snow that never stops falling from this starless sky. 

"Ladies and gentlemen, throughout this grueling day, we saw the blocks, the tracks, the doors, the rails, the railroad junctions, the collapsed ceiling of a gas chamber, the ruins of a crematoria , the inside of a crematorium, the stairs leading to a crematorium, photographs taken by the SS, fragments of the camp, hair, Taleths found after the liberation of the camp, objects taken from the victims, toys, luggage, suitcases, facilities for the cleaning and disinfection of clothing, children's clothing, women's clothing, men's clothing, old men's clothing, metal remains, latrines in Birkenau wooden barracks, a gallows on which were executed prisoners, an easel on which was executed the punishment of the whip, electrified fences, a cart for the transport of bodies, watchtowers, personal photos, family photos brought in the camp by the Jews. What do these objects really tell us about the history of the people who once gave them life? What do we know about them? Nothing, since they are dead, since we do not see them. Heaps of shorn women's hair, toothbrushes, prosthetic legs and arms, glasses, toys ....

But hair without head, glasses without eyes, prostheses without legs, shoes without feet, toys without children. So we take in full face the places, the walls, the cold. Too short a day to fully and completely understand the workings of mass crime, the unspeakable, death and hatred. Too short but so intense and how much needed. Because, we have no right to forget, no we do not have the right because we have an imperative obligation, the obligation to transmit, the duty of transmission. "

A resounding silence is made in the crowd as Francis Kalifat delivers his speech. Everyone is thinking back to what he saw and heard today. Looking around, the void is suddenly felt like a gaping hole in the heart. Here, every man is alone with himself. And every man has to face his responsibilities. Those of the witness. Because today - and we will never remember it enough - we have become the witnesses of the witnesses.

This is what Ginette Kolinka insists on the occasion of the few words she gives tonight. She thanks us for our patience, our listening and our courage for having walked so much today, in this uncooperative snow, ironically on the little cart that she used sometimes during the day.

Rabbi Moshe Lewin concludes this sober ceremony with prayers that will long remain engraved in the hearts. The Jewish prayer for the missing El Male Rahamim resounds here like a cry that pierces the silence of Birkenau. And, as the last words of Kaddish, the Jewish stare for the dead, fly above our heads, the Chofar sounds. Like a fearful and painful word, the sound of the Chofar pierces the night and rises above the souls that accompany us at this precise moment. As a signal to let the missing go back to sleep and awaken the consciences of the living, the Chofar warmed our hearts.

The Jewish prayer for the French Republic concludes this intense and unique moment.

In honor of the 6 million Jews exterminated during the Holocaust, we light 6 candles. In turn, Alain Louis, Mayor of Goussainville - accompanied by students from his city Maïa, Marie, Jade, Alioune, Lenny and Jonathan, the French Ambassador to Poland, elected French and community and political representatives pose in the snow those little candles. Everyone is then invited to do the same and the entire space of the memorial soon becomes a fabulous source of light shining through the night.

We will never understand what the Holocaust was. And this journey of memory has probably immersed us even more in the inconceivable. Because what happened here goes beyond the human, we can not - we, humans - conceive and think it. All this goes far beyond us and we will always be unable to realize the drama that has occurred here. But we have the duty to try. The duty to listen to the last witnesses, to transmit their words, to open their eyes and to warn against the excesses that led to the greatest catastrophe of humanity. In the inhuman Auschwitz-Birkenau, we will also keep the little moments of humans that have brought us closer together. A benevolent smile, an attentive look, a hand extended to get off the bus, and all these faces, become familiar after meeting in the depths of hell.

"I'm so happy that you're here to listen to me, and I'm so glad you believe me, you know, I sometimes have a hard time believing it's all happened and I'm I can not explain it, I will never be able to ... " Ginette concluded at the airport, in front of all those faces frozen in admiration. That day, Ginette celebrated her 93 years old birthday.

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