Human Rights, France

Eighteen students, faculty and staff from SMU and Dallas are traveling to France during spring break 2014 to study the role that country played in the Holocaust, when Nazi-occupied France deported 76,000 Jews to be murdered in or en route to extermination camps.

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France and the Holocaust

CandiceAn update from Candice Bledsoe, the founder and director of the Cutting Edge Youth Summit and a fellow for the Texas Project for Human Rights Education:

The pilgrimage to experience learning about France and the Holocaust has been profound and moving. Learning about the dark years in France confirms that history must be shared to avoid repeating the past.

As a mother, I found it extremely difficult to see the town of Oradour-sur-Glane. It was a beautiful city of 642 that stood on a beautiful landscape. The Nazis burned the entire town, while shooting men and women in their legs. Only five people escaped. To visit the town today and bear witness to these crimes is very emotional. The remains of the town prove that these were regular people who had no idea that they would be murdered. In fact, as one passes through the town and looks at the houses, you may see a rusted car, sewing machine, and the outline of a detailed fireplace. Although it is frightening to experience the wrath of those who collaborated with the Nazi party, I am convinced that one person can make a difference.

I wrote a poem to express the impact I received from this trip.

When the Bough Breaks

Like salty wounds that cry out in the deepness of the night,
Fear dries out into a crusty scab of denial.
Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock
In one day, a father is separated from his family,
and sent to a pathway of death.

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock
In one hour, a baby cries herself to sleep.
She whispers, “Je Veux Ma MaMan!”
“I want my Mommie.”
Rocking and shaking uncontrollably,
She is consoled by other weeping toddlers in urine-drenched clothes.
They fall in and out of consciousness like the rhythm of a dripping faucet,
searching for relief.

In one second, a church struggles to stand as a little boy prays in a
confession booth that surrounds him with a cocoon of hope.
He just took his last breath, never knowing others
would stand on his last moments.
Pain, disbelief, and sadness break the bough of silence by
breathing through their memories.

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    2 Responses to France and the Holocaust

    1. Renette says:

      You’ve created some vivid images in your poetry. I so look forward to
      reading your blog on a regular basis. Congratulations & continue sharing
      your adventures.

    2. Natalie says:

      Your poem is a solemn reminder that each second of freedom is a blessing.

    Comments are closed.