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Exhibition Workshop: Hélène Berr, A Stolen Life


A workshop by the Mémorial de la Shoah, Paris, France On Saturday, February 9, 2019

Attendees register here.

Participating teachers will receive a Certificate of Attendance and Course Completion Form for six (6) contact hours.

Scripps College – 1030 Columbia Ave, Claremont, CA 91711


8:30am–9:00am > Registration

Coffee, tea, and breakfast snacks will be provided.

9:00am–10:30am > “Collecting Archives of the Holocaust: from the CDJC to the Mémorial de la Shoah”

A lecture by Jacques Fredj, who will give a broad historical context and introduce the Mémorial de la Shoah’s mission since the creation of the CDJC, the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation, in 1943.

10:30am–10:45am > Break

10:45am–12:15pm > “Héléne Berr and the Fate of the Jews in Vichy France”

Hélène Berr was a young Jewish woman studying English literature at the Sorbonne when she started writing her Journal, in the spring of 1942. Her upper middle-class family had been living in France for generations, and her father, a chemical engineer, had an important position in a French firm that manufactured explosives. Despite all this, the Berrs suffered a fate similar to that of 75,000 other Jews in wartime France: Hélène and her parents were arrested by Vichy police in March 1944 and taken to the transit camp at Drancy, outside Paris, from where they were deported to Auschwitz. They did not survive. To fully understand Hélène Berr’s story, we need to situate it in the larger context of the anti-Jewish policies of the Vichy regime, which worked with the Nazis in persecuting and rounding up Jews. And we must compare her individual story with those of other Jews who lived in France at the time—many of whom survived persecu- tion, while others (25% of the total Jewish population in the country at the time) suffered the same fate as Héléne.

12:15pm–1:15pm > Lunch Break

Lunch boxes and beverages will be provided.

1:15pm–2:45pm > “We Were There: Christians and the Holocaust”

Filmmaker and child survivor of the Holocaust Pierre Sauvage (“Weapons of the Spirit”) will introduce and screen his new documentary “We Were There: Christians and the Holocaust” (58 min). Drawing on interviews he conducted in 1982 with four French Christian rescuers of the Holocaust, as well as the challenging views of an American clergyman and Holocaust studies pioneer, the film seeks to explore the Christian roots of righteous behavior during that time—as well as Christian responsibility for what was allowed to happen. While 76,000 Jews of France were deported with the collaboration of the Vichy Government, 75% of the Jews of France ultimately survived the Holocaust, largely thanks to the French population.

2:45pm–3:00pm > Break

3:00pm–4:00pm > “Memories of a Hidden Child and Some Creative women in France during WWII”

A lecture by Monique Saigal Escudero, who taught at Pomona College for 45 years. Her presentation is about her time in France during WWII as a young three year old Jewish child thrown in a train by her grandmother, who was later gassed at Auschwitz. She was picked up by chance by a young Catholic woman whose family she lived with for 8 years. She was baptized and raised catholic. She also speaks about women whom she interviewed because they fought the Nazi Regime during World War II in France. This information is found in her book entitled “French Heroines 1940-1945: Courage, Strength and Ingenuity,” first published in France, then translated into English. She likes to share her experiences as a hidden child and talk about the people who risked their lives to save her. She illustrates her own story and the activities of the women she met, with photos and clips of their interviews.


Jacques Fredj holds an advanced degree in History from the University of Paris, France. In 1992, he was appointed as new Director of the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation. He became Executive Director of Mémorial de la Shoah at its inauguration in 2005. Fredj is also responsible for the creation of the Mémorial de la Shoah in Drancy, a new building which was inaugurated in September 2012; he is the curator of the permanent exhibition for this new space, located accross the street from the Cité de la Muette, former internment and deportation camp for the Jews of France. Fredj is the curator of numerous exhibitions and the author of publica- tions in France related to the history of the Holocaust. The prestigious publishing house Gal- limard recently published his important study: “History of the Jews of France, From the Middle Ages to the Holocaust.” Fredj also wrote “Drancy, an Internment Camp at the Gates of Paris,” which was published in French and in English by the Edition Privat in 2015.

Dr. Monique Saigal, born in Paris, France received her B.A, M.A and PhD at UCLA. She taught French literature at Pomona College   in Claremont, CA for 45 years. She published articles on French poetry and women writers. Her first book, “L’écriture: Lien de mère à fille chez Jeanne Hyvrard, Chantal Chawaf, et Annie Ernaux” was published by Rodopi in 2000 and in 2008, her second book, “Héroïnes françaises 1940-1945. Courage, Force et ingéniosité” was published by les éditions du Rocher. It was then translated into English in 2010. Both versions were revised in 2017. They are preceded by photos and a long introduction telling her story as a hidden Jewish child in Vichy France. The book also tells about interviews she conducted with women in the Resistance during WWII. Dr. Monique Saigal spoke to diverse organizations, schools and Holocaust Museums. She received several awards, one for Excellence in Teaching at Pomona College, one at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada, for Peace and Human Rights. Recently, she was honored at the Capitol, in Sacramento, California.

Pierre Sauvage is a French/American documentary filmmaker and lecturer, who was a child survivor of the Holocaust and a child of Holocaust survivors. Described by Tablet Magazine as “a filmmaker of rare moral perception,” Sauvage is the President of the Chambon Foundation, which he founded in 1982, the first educational foundation committed to “exploring and communicating the necessary and challenging lessons of hope intertwined with the Holocaust’s unavoidable lessons of despair.” He is best known for his feature documen- tary, Weapons of the Spirit, which tells the story of the “conspiracy of goodness” of a mountain community in France that defied the Nazis and took in and saved five thousand Jews, including Sauvage and his parents. Sauvage himself was born in this unique Christian oasis—the area of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon—at a time when much of his family was being tortured and murdered in the Nazi death camps. Weapons of the Spirit won numerous awards upon its initial release in 1989. An updated 25th-anniversary edition of the film will be released in Fall 2014, along with his new documentary, “Not Idly By—Peter Bergson, America and the Holocaust”. Sauvage is also in post-production on the feature documentary “And Crown Thy Good: Varian Fry in Marseille.

Dr. Susan Rubin Suleiman was born in Budapest and emigrated to the U.S. as a child with her parents.   She obtained her B.A.     from Barnard College and her Ph.D. from Harvard University, and has been on the Harvard faculty since 1981, where she is currently the C. Douglas Dillon Research Professor of the Civilization of France and Research Professor of Comparative Literature. Suleiman     is the author or editor of numerous books and more than 100 articles on contemporary literature and culture, published in the U.S.   and abroad. Her latest book, The Némirovsky Question (Yale University Press, fall 2016), is about the Russian-French novelist Irène Némirovsky and issues of “foreignness” in 20th-century France. Her other books include Crises of Memory and the Second World War; Authoritarian Fictions: The Ideological Novel as a Literary Genre; Subversive Intent: Gender, Politics, and the Avant-Garde, and Risking Who One Is: Encounters with Contemporary Art and Literature. In addition to her scholarly work, Suleiman is the author of Budapest Diary: In Search of the Motherbook, a memoir about Hungary. Her book reviews and articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The American Scholar, Moment Magazine and other newspapers and magazines. Suleiman has won many honors, and has held a Guggenheim Fellowship, among others. During the 2009-2010 academic year, she was the invited Shapiro Senior Scholar- in-Residence at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. She lives in Belmont, Massachusetts.

A free one-day workshop for teachers and educators organized by the Mémorial de la Shoah and hosted by Scripps College, with the support of the Mémorial de la Shoah, Clark Humanities Museum, the Scripps Departments of French, Religious Studies, English Studies, the Office of Public Events, the Pomona Departments of Romance Languages and History, Hillel at the Claremont Colleges, The European Union Center of California, the Jewish Federation of San Gabriel and Pomona Valley, the J.C. Harper Lecture Funds, the Consulate General of France in Los Angeles, the Embassy of France in the United States, and SNCF.

This workshop is organized in conjunction with the presentation of “Hélène Berr, a Stolen Life” at Scripps College, an exhibition curated by Karen Taieb and Sophie Nagiscarde, with the guidance of Mariette Job, designed, created, and circulated by Mémorial de la Shoah (Paris, France), and made possible through the generous support of SNCF.




February 9, 2019


8:30 am - 4:00 pm


Hampton Room
1030 N Columbia Ave.
Scripps College, CA 91711 United States
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