“Simon Gronowski: “My life is a miracle””, on France Inter, the odyssey of a Holocaust survivor

With her usual energy and flow that derails the fiber, Laure Grandbesançon, the producer of “Odyssées” (the remarkable podcast for, say, 7-14 year olds), admits without difficulty: “It’s undoubtedly my favorite episode

“Simon Gronowski: “My life is a miracle””, on France Inter, the odyssey of a Holocaust survivor

With her usual energy and flow that derails the fiber, Laure Grandbesançon, the producer of “Odyssées” (the remarkable podcast for, say, 7-14 year olds), admits without difficulty: “It’s undoubtedly my favorite episode. » No need to ask why, she continues: “Because Simon Gronowski is extraordinary, because he has incredible vitality, strength and humor. »

Because, she is also aware, he has the value of a great witness and his word is all the more necessary as the number of anti-Semitic acts recorded in France has quadrupled in one year, according to a Council report. representative of the Jewish institutions of France published on January 25. Likewise, a study carried out at the end of 2023 by OpinionWay among 16-24 year olds shows that only 63% of them know what the term “Shoah” means and that 46%, no more, are capable to say what the “final solution” was.

Laure Grandbesançon therefore went to interview Simon Gronowski in Brussels, where this “miracle” of the Second World War lives.

The yellow star “in place of the heart”

The testimony collected is striking and could well play among the youngest the role that Un sac de billes (Joseph Joffo's story published in 1973) or the Diary of Anne Frank (1947) played among previous generations in understanding sensitive to this episode in our history.

This “Odyssey” begins in the 1930s, in Brussels, where the Gronowski family, who fled Eastern Europe and its pogroms, lovingly raises Ita and Simon. Who remembers his father’s words when he learned, on September 1, 1939, that Hitler had invaded Poland: “It’s terrible. » Laure Granbesançon then takes the story in hand to recall a few facts: the invasion of Belgium, May 10, 1940; the ban on Jews practicing a number of professions; the spoliations and the obligation, from May 1942, to wear the yellow star – “sewn by my mother in place of the heart”, remembers Simon Gronowski.

As the roundups increased, Simon's father was in the hospital when, on March 17, 1943, the Gestapo came to arrest them. “You see, Simon, there is sun, and it’s not for us,” his sister will tell him, to whom he says goodbye without knowing that he will never see her again. “On April 19, 1943, I jumped from a train carrying more than 1,600 Jewish deportees, including 262 children, from the city of Mechelen, Belgium, to the Auschwitz camp in Poland. » It is his mother – executed, just like his sister, upon his arrival – who helps him jump from the wagon: “My mother gave me life twice: when I was born and on the day of my escape,” he says today. A poignant and necessary “Odyssey”.