Serge Klarsfeld recognized with top award by Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial


WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld was recognized with the highest honor bestowed by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial.

Klarsfeld received the Light of Memory award on Sunday in Izieu, France, from Piotr Cywinski, the director of the Auschwitz Museum, in a ceremony held at a conference marking the 30th anniversary of the trial of Klaus Barbie, the head of the Lyon Gestapo.

Klarsfeld, a child survivor of the Holocaust in France whose father was murdered in Auschwitz, for many years tracked Nazis who hid in Europe, Africa or South America. He found Barbie, which led to the Gestapo leader’s extradition from Bolivia and his trial in France.

In 1944, Barbie and his Gestapo unit found 40 Jewish children from various European countries who were being hidden by a French couple in Izieu. The children were deported to Auschwitz and murdered in its gas chambers.

Fifty years later, French President François Mitterrand opened a memorial and education center at the home where the children had lived.

After World War II, the Romania-born Klarsfeld created and published a list of some 11,000 Jewish children who were deported to Nazi death camps.

A historian and lawyer, Klarsfeld is also the author or co-author of many books, exhibitions and educational events.

The Light of Memory is awarded to those who promote education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust. Avner Shalev, the head of the Yad Vashem Holocaust center in Jerusalem, was recognized in 2013.

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