As the liberation of France approaches, a final large convoy hastily leaves Drancy on July 31, 1944, heading for the Auschwitz camp. Only 250 people survived. More than a tribute to the 1,310 men and children deported that day, this ceremony organized at the mayor of Paris was an opportunity to highlight the work of transmission carried out by the association founded by Georges Mayer, son of deported.

Through the memory of the Shoah, the association "The families and friends of the deportees of the Convoy 77" aims to develop and conduct educational actions in partnership with the colleges. In the big hall of the Paris City Hall, dozens of classes attend the restitution of two other partner colleges. The misty morning glances quickly give way to the contemplation of the gilding of the ceiling. In the company of their teachers, the students sit under the imposing chandeliers of the Salle des fêtes. For Anne Hidalgo, the year 2019 is a very important moment: "We are at a time when the witnesses of the war and the raids will leave us, or will not be able to testify with the same vitality." To the young people who listen to him attentively, the mayor of Paris declares: "You are lookouts for the future." According to her, the Convoy 77 project "Is the fruit of an exchange, a transmission, between witnesses who lived the deportation, experienced persecution of Jews in France and Paris, and young people".

"Holocaust denial has never been so good"

Created in 2014, the association of Georges Mayer aims to perpetuate the memory of the deportees of this last great transport to the death camps. To give an identity to the victims. For its founder, it is important today to review the teaching of the Holocaust. Ifop's poll showing that 21% of 18-24 year olds have never heard of the Holocaust is revealing for Georges Mayer. "While millions of testimonies have been collected, thousands of books written by victims, by witnesses or historians, hundreds of trials have made it possible to reconstruct the facts and convict the executioners and their collaborators, says the founder of the association. And yet Holocaust denial has never been so good. Dozens of sites dispute the existence of the Holocaust and the gas chambers. Some pseudo humorists or historians try to justify or deny the genocide of the Jews. "

Faced with the ignorance of a part of the French youth, teachers and association leaders worked together to create an educational path: collect all the biographies of the deportees of this convoy. A way to learn history by studying individual paths and training in research. For 14-year-old Hicham, a third-year student at the Collège Michel-Richard-Delalande in Athis-Mons, Essonne, this project makes him «Memory passer» : "I would never have imagined that the power of writing was so great. This project allowed for personal reflection on forms of discrimination. " In addition to the moment of arrest, students focus on telling the stories of these deported children.

Duty of vigilance

For Clément Huguet, professor of history and geography at the Collège Michel-Richard-Delalande, the close end of the era of witnesses justifies a review of teaching practices: "The originality of this project is above all its individual approach. Students learn to address the issue of genocide through particular destinies. It is a question of realizing a real historical work, by tracing the course of a deported child. " In the classic teaching of the Holocaust, it is the global approach that is privileged. One hour a week and throughout the school year, Clément Huguet's class delves into the broken lives of these deported children. "The students seize the project and it evolves according to what they think and propose. This year students are involved in anti-discrimination issues by creating clips and preparing a sound documentary ", says the professor.

Paris, January 23, 2019. Tribute day to the victims of the convoy 77 who left the Drancy camp on July 31, 1944, as part of the world day dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, at the city hall from Paris.
Yvette Levy and Daniel Urbejtel, survivors of the convoy 77.

Daniel Urbejtel and Yvette Levy, the two survivors of the convoy 77. Photo Albert Facelly

After the testimonies of Yvette Levy and Daniel Urbejtel, two survivors of convoy 77, the Grand Vermeil medal of the city of Paris is given to the Tlemcen committee, created in memory of the Jewish children deported from the XXe Paris district and the National Council for the Memory of Deported Jewish Children (Comejd). In front of the hundreds of students present, Rachel Jedinak, Jewish child hidden during the war and president of the Tlemcen committee reminds the importance of the duty of vigilance for the students present: "We are campaigning for young people to know how to fulfill this duty. For the foul beast always has a fertile belly. "

Charles Delouche

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