On January 26, at Villa Massena in Nice, was held the moving ceremony posthumously awarding the Medal and Diploma of Righteous Among the Nations to Marcelle and Philippe Durand.
Between 1944 and 1945, through the efforts of Marcelle and Philippe Durand, the life of a sister and a brother, Françoise and Michel Picard, has been saved. It was first Michel, that the couple Durand took under their wing while Françoise was welcomed into another family.
After many adventures, the couple Durand managed to bring together the two children in order to take them into a more secure area for them (the roundup of Jews were intensifying in Nice). Philippe Durand thus accompanied them in Isere, to farmers. The children remained there until September 1945 and their grandparents and aunt were able to recover them.
The ceremony was attended by numerous personalities of the Jewish community of Nice and elected officials, including Mr. Christian Estrosi, MP, Mayor of Nice and President of Nice Côte d’ Azur Métropole, Mr. Barnea Hassid, Consul General of the State of Israel, Mr. Eric Ciotti, MP, Chairman of the General Council of the Alpes-Maritimes, Daniel Wancier, Chairman for the Nice Côte d’ Azur Vad Vashem Committee, Martine Ouakine, Deputy in Nice, Claude Maurin, Michelle, and Claude Sad, Philippe and Marcelle Durand’s grandchildren, the presidents of the consistoires of Nice and its region, and Lucien Maurice Niddam Samak, the Presidents of CRIF Southeast, of Unified Jewish Social Fund and of the United Jewish Appeal, Jerome Culioli, Sauveur Assous and Alain Balamanian.
During the ceremony speech, Christian Estrosi said: ” Welcoming you on this day, on the eve of the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau camp, to honor the memory and actions of Marcelle and Philippe Durand, is a key moment as part of the conception of the Republic that we share. Tomorrow I will inaugurate in your presence the Wall of the Righteous Among the Nations, located within the cemetery of the Castle, on which of course will be written the names of Marcelle and Philippe Durand.”
He also reminded that beyond the Duty to Remember, it’s the virtues of Justice, Brotherhood and Courage he wanted to feature in the center of the ceremony: “They are more than ever needed at a time when the assassins of memory are trying to falsify the tragic and cruel history that took place here seventy years.”
He also remembered Blaise Pascal’s quote in “Les Provinciales”: “It is a strange and long war that the one where violence tries to oppress the truth! Every effort of violence fail to weaken the truth, and only serve to raise it more.
In a foreknowledge of his own, three centuries before the Holocaust, one of the greatest French writers, Blaise Pascal, guesses that the war of truth is never definitively won. But today, honoring Marcelle and Philippe Durand, and giving them, Mr. Consul General of the State of Israel, the quality of Righteous Among the Nations, we perform a decisive step towards justice.”
Christian Estrosi added: ” For I have in mind the second part of the reasoning of Blaise Pascal: All the lights of Truth can not do anything to stop the violence, and merely irritate it even more if men do not intervene.”
He recalled that the Righteous Among the Nations like Marcelle and Philippe Durand breathes new content into the word Humanism and its full meaning. Through their approach, their children and grandchildren keep them alive among us, alive as Francoise and Michelle Picard, spared because they were able to escape hell.
Christian Estrosi concluded with these words: “These two children have survived because they have found helping hands, those of Marcelle and Philippe Durand”.
A couple of Righteous honored at Cagnes sur Mer
At the Cagnes-sur-Mer Town Hall, the ceremony that took place in the afternoon was also moving with the posthumous medal and diploma ceremony of the Righteous Among the Nations presented to Marie-Thérèse and Marius Pallanca.
Lucienne, the neighbors’ Jewish young girl that Marie-Thérèse and Marius were hiding, lived with their daughter Huguette during the war and the two young girls became friends.
Inauguration of the Wall of the Righteous in Nice
Christian Estrosi inaugurated on January 27, 2014 the Wall of the Righteous Among the Nations. The inauguration took place in the heart of Nice Castle Cemetery in the presence of Eric Ciotti, Barnea Hassid, Marek Halter, writer and hidden child, and Nicole Guedj, Former Minister, President of the France-Israel Foundation.
The names of Marie-Thérèse and Marius Pallanca and Marcelle and Philippe Durand now appear on the wall of the Righteous in Jerusalem and one the wall unveiled today in Nice, at the Château cemetery, along with the names of 128 Righteous from the Alpes- Maritimes that have been engraved on it. 76,000 Jews from France were taken to the camps during the war; only 2,551 returned.
Christian Estrosi said in his speech of ceremony: “This is a beautiful work of memory and a beautiful tribute to those men and women who hid Jews, risking their lives during the Second World War.”
The title of ” Righteous Among the Nations ” is awarded by the Israeli Yad Vashem Memorial, which was established in 1953 in Jerusalem by the law of the memorial, passed by the Israeli parliament.”
La médaille des Justes est décernée aux personnes non juives ayant, au péril de leur vie, sauvé des personnes ou des familles juives sous l’occupation allemande. Le titre de Juste parmi les Nations est décerné sur la foi de témoignages des personnes sauvées ou de témoins oculaires et documents fiables. Le fait de n’avoir recherché aucune récompense ou compensation matérielle, en contrepartie de l’aide apportée est déterminant.
The medal of the Righteous is awarded to non-Jewish people who, risking their lives, saved people or Jewish families during the German occupation. The title of Righteous among the Nations is awarded on the basis of testimonies of persons rescued or reliable eyewitnesses and documents. The fact of not having sought no reward or material compensation in exchange for helping is crucial.
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