The film La France Divisée will be the center of Highland Beach Library’s Yom Hashoah commemoration.
Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, is marked on the Hebrew calendar’s 27th day of Nissan, corresponding this year to April 19. On that day, the 6 million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust are remembered as well as the experiences of those who survived.
The film explores the two sides of France during WWII: the side that collaborated with the Germans and the side that resisted. Included are interviews with Janine Banet Godkine, a “hidden child,” Lucie Aubrac, a member of the French Resistance, Serge Klarsfeld, historian and Nazi hunter, and Gérard Bollon, a historian on the Protestant Resistance specifically in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, each giving France’s history from a different viewpoint.
Interspersed among the stories is archival footage from WWII. A Highland Beach resident, George Flaum Banet, is shown as a 12-year-old in a studio portrait with his mother, both wearing the yellow Star of David.
Another photo is the wedding portrait of George’s parents, Charles and Thérèse Flaum. A third is of his grandmother, Chaya Hertszberg, and her two children, one of them his mother. But there is no interview with George Flaum Banet. He cannot speak about what happened to him or his family. What he has allowed is his wife, a journalist and literary writer, to travel into the past with him and document his life.
Banet’s wife, Marlene Roberts, will introduce the film and offer commentary when the film addresses Banet’s history.
Co-produced by George’s cousin, Barbara Barnett, and videotaped by George’s daughter, Toni Banet, the film ends with two powerful statements. The first is an apology by French President Jacques Chirac, given on July 16, 1995, for the actions taken by the French government against the Jews living in France during WWII. The second is an apology by the Bishop of Saint Denis on Sept. 30, 1997, for actions not taken by the Catholic Church during WWII.
The Yom Hashoah commemoration will begin at 5 p.m. April 19.
The library is at 3618 S. Ocean Blvd. in Highland Beach. For information, call (561) 278-5455.
— Staff report