Two Trials and a Nice Guy in Marseille

Brasserie Balzar - rue des Ecoles
In Paris you can't say, when you've seen one café
you've seen them all - for no two are alike.

Coluche's 'Les Restaurants du Coeur' - 13th Edition

Paris:- Saturday, 20. December 1997:- Maurice Papon continues to maintain he had nothing to do with the convoy of Jews, sent from Bordeaux to Paris, on 18. July 1942.

Made uncertain at the end of last week by the pointed questions of the court's president, Jean-Louis Castagnède, at the beginning of this week he is nearly insolent with the Attorney-General, Marc Robert. This is despite documents which prove his willingness to carry out Nazi commands with maximum efficiency.

These documents also show that Hungarian Jews, who the Nazis were not seeking, were administratively transformed into Poles and included in the convoy.

In the Gironde in July 1942, orders were given to arrest 100 Jews but only 70 were booked. Papon does not know why snow on Wednesday the score wasn't better, but Attorney-General, Marc Robert points out the Vel' d'Hiv roundup in Paris only had a 40 percent success rate.

On Wednesday, the witness Eliane Alisvaks-Dommange said, 'I am the daughter of Antoinette Alisvaks, 30 years old, arrested, deported. I am the daughter of Henri Alisavaks, 33 years old, arrested and deported. If they had been left alive, they would have the age of Maurice Papon.'

Look at this - right out of my window - real Parisian snow.

On 15. July 1942 the Alisavaks family, including Claude and Jackie, Eliane's two brothers, were caught just as they were about leave their home to try and cross into unoccupied France. With badges hanging from their necks in the Hâ prison, the children were pulled out by a relation of their father's, and hidden with neighbors.

Jackie can't look at Papon. 'He stole my family,' he says.

Later in the day, too late for Thursday's editions, Papon is reported to remember the 'Grunberg Affair' well. "Because there was the little two-year old Nicole. We tore her from her mother's hands, to put her into safety, thank goodness."

On Thursday morning, Pierre Grunberg hotly contested Papon's version. He said Nicole was separated from her mother by the Nazis and placed in a hospital run by nuns. Jeanne, the mother, was imprisoned at Mont-de-Marsan before being shipped to Paris on 18. July 1942.

It was the grandmother who got Nicole out of the no snow on Thursday hospital. The Nazis weren't arresting children under 16 in July, but in August, Papon said, the Nazis insisted that children be reunited with their parents, although they were at Drancy, near Paris.

By not sending Nicole to Paris, Maurice Papon claims to have saved her life. He faced a terrible dilemma, "Rendre les enfants aux parents, c'etait aller vers l'anéantissement..."

Out of the same window 24 hours later - the usual Parisian no snow.

L'Anéantissement means exterminate. Maurice Papon's good memory of July 1942 remembers that sending children with their parents to Drancy near Paris, was the same as sending them to be exterminated. This was the first time during the trial he remembered that he knew this in July of 1942.

The word fell like a bomb in the courtroom, sending shock waves through the seats of the civil parties present, right to where Nicole Grunberg was sitting.

The trial continues.

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.

Mr. Fry's Modest Refugee-Export Service

A young American editor, Varian Fry, went to Marseille after the German invasion of France in June of 1940. He was the representative of a private American relief committee.

He was sent to offer aid and advice to refugees who were threatened with extradition to Nazi Germany under an article of the Franco-German Armistice - the 'Surrender on Demand' clause.

Varian Fry managed to extend his limited initial stay into a 13-month séjour; continuing his aid without a passport and under constant police watch.

He set up the 'American Relief Center' and from behind this cover he used every means - from black-market funds, forged papers, secret mountain and sea routes - to smuggle about 2,000 endangered people out of France.

Fry ignored repeated orders to get out by the American government. He was finally kicked out by the Vichy regime, as an 'undesirable alien' in September of 1941. If he had stayed until December, he would probably have become an 'enemy alien' and would have ended up in the camps himself.

The US reward for this activity was a FBI file, as another 'too-soon' anti-Nazi. The only official recognition he received before his death in 1967 was the 'Croix de Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur, awarded by the French government. Since then, Mr. Fry has received several posthumous awards.

Read more about the history of Varian Fry and his activities in Marseille in the period shortly before Maurice Papon took up his post at Bordeaux.

Carlos Plays Legal Guerilla in the Courtroom

For his court appearances, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez dresses like a natty yachtsman,wearing a dark blazer, silk foulard with little white dots, and jeans.

People accused of serious crimes in France seem to be allowed a certain latitude to shoot their mouths off and Carlos took advantage of it, both before and after one of his lawyers quit the court because she didn't want 'to prostitute' herself to the Drugstore its petty regulations, and the two other attorneys followed her out.

As we now know, from the Maurice Papon case in Bordeaux, a trial starts with the examination of the personality of the accused. This started last Tuesday, after two days of bad circus.

Here is the Drugstore on the Champs-Elysées - the 'Champs' local grocery store.

There are no witnesses to be heard; only a police official reading out the official but probably imperfect, record. Carlos interrupts this with his little anecdotes about his student days in Moscow and first visit to Jordan to join the PFLP.

Questions break up his chant and Carlos is annoyed. He does not respond when asked why he did not stay in the Americas to fight with Che Cuevara. He admits to hijacking passenger airplanes. He admits to committing executions; and in black humor, to possibly executing French judges.

When asked if he would like to say anything about PFLP, Carlos says he is not a snitch. He says it is serious to treat him like that; says it is the court President Corneloup's personal responsibility. Carlos claims he has had a full life; rich, productive; says he is an example for the revolution; he is satisfied. With himself.

On Wednesday, an expected key witness, retracts her earlier testimony, with excuses to the court. But in 1978 Maria Nydia Tobon wrote a book about Carlos, who she claimed to know in London and now says she made the whole thing up from newspaper stories. The trouble is, the book contains passages that could only have come directly from Carlos. Madame Tobon left Paris to return to Caracas.

Jean-François Clerc, now Inspecteur-Général of the DST - France's Internal Counter-Espionage service - took the stand on Thursday to tell the court about the circumstances of the events on 27. June 1975 - when two DST agents and an informer were shot dead, and another DST agent was wounded.

He too, would have been at the scene at 9. rue Tollier that day if he had not been out of the country. Mr. Clerc said they followed Moukharbal, a courier for the PFLP, hoping he would lead them to terrorists who were planning at attack targets i France.

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