Dedication of a Plaque for Two French Righteous at the Illinois Holocaust Museum
Remarks by Consul General of France Vincent Floreani on the occasion of the dedication of a plaque for two French Righteous, Mrs. Emilie Deves and Mr. Fernand Deves, at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, IL on Sunday, June 28, 2015.
Thank you for inviting me to this important event. Thank you to Rose Abrams and Edith Adlam for nominating Fernand and Emilie Deves as Righteous Among the Nations of Yad Vashem.
There is so much that we can learn from the Righteous. The lesson of the Righteous is not simply a lesson of courage, but also of responsibility and duty. The lesson of the Righteous demonstrates that there is always an alternative to howling with the pack. The lesson of the Righteous is that even alone, an individual is not without power, not without duty.
I am glad that we can express our gratitude to the Righteous today. Seventy years ago, they did not hesitate to endanger their loved one’s safety and to risk prison or even deportation. Why did they do this? For whom? For men, women, and children whom, in most cases, they did not even know.
Ordinary French men and women who were from cities or countryside, atheists or believers, young or old, rich or poor sheltered these families. They offered comfort to adults and tenderness to children. They saved Jews from mass deportation.
There were about 3,000 Righteous in France. Thanks to them, ¾ of French Jews were hidden and avoided being rounded up. None of the Nazi occupied countries, except Denmark, had such an outpouring of solidarity comparable to what happened in France.
The Righteous are an example to us, an example to younger generations. Today, we have the honor of showing our appreciation for two of them. Thank you./.