General Winter Pays Paris Brief Visit

cafe La Pyramide
Café La Pyramide on the rue de Rivoli in Paris.

After Three-Week Pause, the Papon Trial Resumes

Paris:- Saturday, 6. December 1997:- Winter arrived in the Paris region by surprise last Tuesday morning.

There was a little bit of snow as I drove up the hill to the school to drop off the midget, drove up another hill to pick up the rest of the passengers, and then drove up the hill in the forest to get them to their school.

When I got home to have my café, radio France-Info said France was paralyzed by the snowfall and Orly was closed. Wednesday's Le Parisien said the traffic jams totalled 344 kms on Tuesday.

Since the TV-news strike on Tuesday - see below - cut the evening news on France 2 as well as 3, I don't know where I saw this Title Parisien: Hiver Deja cute weather-lady saying how the forecast on Monday night had been correct - except - that something technical had been a few kilometres further south, and a temperature had been technically half a degree lower - and - whammow! we got socked.

However, with my hills, I had no problems - although it is colder here than in the city, and the snow was heavy enough to break fragile branches overhanging the forest road.

Le Parisien's cover for Wednesday - about Tuesday's little bit of snow.

Apparently the situation was worse south and east of Paris. Part of the problem stemmed from motorists ignoring the warning panels announcing the saturation of the autoroutes; so they did not try the alternate route nationals.

The highway crews got caught with their salt and sanding trucks in the barns and trucks that did take the alternate routes, got stuck in the slippery slush. Some farmers spent a good part of the day using their tractors to pull 40-ton highway trucks back onto the pavement.

On Thursday it was Spain's turn to be paralyzed by snow, ice and low temperatures - right down to Andalusia - with hundreds of highway trucks ending up in huge, stalled hordes.

The Trial of Maurice Papon is On Again

When Maurice Papon was last in court - on 13. November - he insisted that he worked 'day and night' to strike Jews off a list for deportation, and he promised to furnish a list of the names he had struck off.

Back in court on Thursday, he did not keep this promise. Lawyers for the civil plaintiffs, lead by Serge and Arno Klarsfeld, said the only names Papon removed from lists were those of Catholics.

At the time, one could apply to a service run directly by Vichy for removal from the list, and this service - the SEC - would run an investigation. If the person concerned was not Jewish, then this information would be transferred to Papon, and he could remove the name from the list.

The Klarsfelds were able to verify that 120 names on this 'list' were certified as 'aryans' by the SEC; usually according to baptismal certificates.

Maurice Papon has always maintained that he did not exercise 'police powers.' Yet he worked, as secretary-general with Pierre Garat, in an office which was occupied principally with 'jewish questions.' This office was charged with maintaining lists of Jews in the Bordeaux area.

One of the other functions of this office was to transmit these lists to the police, who in turn were supposed to find and arrest the people whose names were on these lists.

While Papon was saying that the 'office of jewish questions' was working to protect, even save Jews, Christiane Hipolitte - who worked on the same floor as the Prefect - assured the court that the Bordeaux police Commissar Norbert Tecentral, also had a office there - on the same floor as the Prefect.

Mme Hipolitte witnessed meetings between the three men: Pierre Garat, Norbert Tecentral and Maurice Papon. She said, "Mr Garat worked hand-in-hand with the secretary-general."

Another witness, who so far is unknown at the trial - who worked together with Mme Hipolitte has written to the President of the court, to offer to testify.

The prosecution has in its hands a mountain of factual evidence - lists, papers, memos, orders; stamped, dated, signed - and as Papon keeps saying, in effect, that he was 'saving Jews' or 'it was those other guys' - the prosecution is slowly building up to release this barrage of paperwork from the time in question.

Using the existing paper as documentary evidence, the prosecution is going to examine the details of individual arrests; details of where people were sent and by what means on which train on what day - and then the prosecution is going to link the paper and the people it represents to Maurice Papon.

The trial is expected to continue next week.

Web sites devoted to the History and Trial of Maurice Papon

The Matisson family were the first to launch a civil case against Maurice Papon, in 1981. Jean-Marie Matisson runs the website, and reports from the courtroom. At the website, click on 'Affaire Papon.'

Another website of interest contains daily coverage of the trial by the Bordeaux paper, the Sud Ouest.

Stéphane Grappelli Quits Fiddling

On Monday afternoon, at the age of 89, Stéphane Grappelli took his jazz-violin to wherever people like him go to after playing 78-year-long gigs on earth.

Last year, at 88, he played at the Festival in Nice. He had minor heart problems since 1991, and was only Stephane Grappelli hospitalized a week before his death.

Grappelli started playing professionally in 1923, as an accompanist to silent films in cinemas. He also played piano - mostly between 1931 and 1933 - and he co-founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France with guitarist Django Reinhardt in 1934.

Gone to where the great fiddlers go - Stéphane Grappelli

He was in London playing the Palladium when war broke out in 1939. Reinhardt died in 1953 and Grappelli returned to France and played on - not quite alone.

His was the music you hear in the film 'Les Valseuses' and in 'Milou en Mai.' In 1969 Grappelli made his first world tour and in 1974 had a triumph at New York's Carnegie Hall. He recorded with Michel Legrand, Claude Bolling and in 1988 as a duo with McCoy Tyner.

Just for fun, he had his 88th birthday party at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. A son of swing died as a grandfather - of swing - in Paris, last Monday a few weeks short of his 90th birthday.

Disco War on the Champs-Elysées

With great fanfare and with help from men from Mars, the culture-chain 'fnac' opened a branch on the Champs-Elysées on Tuesday - less than a block from Virgin's Megastore.

The new fnac outlet is in Claridge's new gallery and it has about 2,500 square metres, as opposed to Virgin's 3,500. It is not a full-line fnac as new fnac; Champs-Elysees it has only audio CDs, video movies and computer games, which are called 'multimedia,' whatever that means.

It looks more like Disco War of the Worlds.
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