(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
PARIS – Thierry Vincon, mayor of Saint-Amand-Montrond, is set to lead a delegation of some 20 French mayors to Israel next week on the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The trip – the second of its kind – is being organized by the French Yad Vashem Committee and the France-Israel Foundation.
Over the past five years the committee has developed a mayors network aimed at connecting all the towns and communities where Righteous Among the Nations are commemorated, whether by plaques telling their stories, statues of such people, or alleys and streets named after Righteous Gentiles.
The mayors will be hosted this year by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai. They will meet with descendants of Righteous Among the Nations and with Holocaust survivors, and will also have the opportunity to meet with representatives of businesses and hi-tech companies interested in doing business in France.
Vincon told The Jerusalem Post that the visit to Israel is of a special significance to him.
“A few years ago a Jewish friend showed me a picture of a young woman holding a child. She was a Holocaust survivor, a former resident of my own town. We did not know her story and thus started digging and looking for details and for more stories like that. We contacted the French Yad Vashem Committee and began working together.”
Jean-Pierre Gauzi, the committee’s secretary-general, explained to the Post that so far 191 French communities have created memorials dedicated to Righteous Among the Nations. In each case, the memorial commemorates a Righteous Gentile who lived in that community during the war. It was there that he (or she) risked his (or her) life by hiding Jews.
Gauzi said that the mayors network was initiated in 2010. Since then, 59 towns and villages have joined.
“Over the years we noticed that the issue of underground military resistance was of major importance to French society, but the civil resistance was hardly spoken of. At the same time, it was evident that on the local level the ceremonies