“We arrive in the night”: Marceline Loridan-Ivens, survivor of the Shoah, makes her voice heard

First of all, thank Léa Veinstein, who allows us, in this podcast, to hear Marceline Loridan-Ivens so well

“We arrive in the night”: Marceline Loridan-Ivens, survivor of the Shoah, makes her voice heard

First of all, thank Léa Veinstein, who allows us, in this podcast, to hear Marceline Loridan-Ivens so well. Director, author, Marceline, born Rozenberg in 1928 and deported before she was 16, was until her death on September 18, 2018, a “daughter of Birkenau”.

Moreover, she came to record her testimony in 2005 in Bry-sur-Marne (Val-de-Marne), at the headquarters of the National Audiovisual Institute (INA) and at the initiative of the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah, she will have these words when the historian Dominique Missika, who comes to welcome her, points out this simple thread which holds a six-pointed star to her neck: “I wear a Star of David because I am Jewish, and Fuck them. »

To look back on her past, she will still ask, with the irony of which she was capable, for vodka, herrings and a few cigarettes. In reality, she smoked a lot, and not just tobacco, during the five hours of testimony (guided by Antoine Vitkine and available on video on the INA website) which Léa Veinstein kept - "cutting without going up so as not to leave no hold to the deniers and revisionists” – one hour and forty minutes.

Live despite everything

Episode 1, Marceline again Rozenberg returns to that evening in February 1944 when the Germans and the French militia arrested her and her father, who then told her a prophetic “I will not come back”. After Drancy, she was deported by convoy 71 – with Simone Veil (then Simone Jacob) and Ginette Kolinka (née Cherkasky) – to Auschwitz-Birkenau. “We arrive at night. The train stops. We wait. For hours, we wait. »

The next episode tells the horror. Gas chambers and crematoria. The selections made by Josef Mengele. The spoons that are worth a ration of bread. This SS man who pushes her to the point of causing another to collapse (whom he will finish off): “I did that too. (…) We all did things. And I bear no guilt about that. (…) It is they who are guilty. » In episode 3, she returns to her transfer to the Bergen-Belsen camp: corpses pile up everywhere. In the last episode, she confides that she never left the camp. And that it took a lot of strength to cross the barbed wire and continue to live despite everything.

Beyond the pain, it is the need to truly be heard which can be seen in her injunctions, which Léa Veinstein took care to keep: her “you see? », “did you know that? » which challenge us and force us to listen, making us also, and forever, restless. Restless people, and witnesses, since, as Elie Wiesel said, “to listen to a witness is to become one in turn”.

“A duty to transmit”

And that’s what Léa Veinstein succeeds in doing. To make us witnesses by giving voice to the voices of the dead and the absent, a common thread in the work of this gifted young woman. Whether in his book Isaac (Grasset, 2019), on his great-grandfather rabbi, in the podcast “On the trail”, around works stolen by the Nazis, or even in “La Voix des witnesses”, the podcast taken from the exhibition she curated at the Shoah Memorial in 2021.

On this occasion, here is what this doctor of philosophy, author of a thesis on Kafka, said: “The voice is what in each of us survives time, and even death: even more than an image, it makes each intensely present. » The voice as a witness, as a trace of what we have been and what we are, and whose modulations make everything heard: pain and anger, wounds and scars. “The voice is not only physical, it is also symbolic,” she adds. The witnesses have become spokesmen, one could say, engaging in memory as in a fight that is sometimes political, sometimes moral, in any case always focused on peace and transmission. »

We then remember the words of Simone Veil in the podcast produced by the same Léa Veinstein: “I don’t like the expression “duty to remember”, for me, it’s a need. For me, it is a duty to transmit. We need to know. Let us know everything. »

At the end of her life, Marceline Loridan-Ivens was more willing to talk about her deportation. We think in particular of Et tu n’est pas retour, written with Judith Perrignon (Grasset, 2015). The world, she confided to the latter, worried her as anti-Semitism returned to Paris and Islamism was on the rise.

Since then, and while anti-Semitic attacks have continued to multiply – more than 1,500 acts were recorded in France between October 7, 2023, the day of the Hamas attack against Israel, and November 14, 2023, i.e. three times more than in the whole of 2022 - Léa Veinstein's work of memory ("An open memory, and not just a community one", she wishes) is more necessary than ever. The story must be heard.