France debates 'adopting' Shoah victims

Education minister softens Sarkozy's proposal that every French pupil adopt a child Holocaust victim.

sarkozy 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
sarkozy 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
France's education minister on Monday softened a proposal by President Nicolas Sarkozy to make French 10-year-olds honor child Holocaust victims, amid heated criticism of the sensitive idea. Sarkozy said last week that each French pupil in the last year of primary school should adopt one of the 11,000 Jewish children from France killed in the Holocaust, learning about the selected child's background and fate. Many psychologists, teachers and parents protested the plan as too traumatizing, and the idea has prompted nationwide debate among Holocaust survivors, historians, philosophers and Jewish leaders about France's memory of World War II. Education Minister Xavier Darcos said Monday the plan could be adjusted so that an entire class could collectively honor an individual victim. "Is it necessary to do one by one, for each pupil? Perhaps we could find other solutions," such as choosing one victim per class, he said on RTL radio. He said he would meet Wednesday morning with teachers and Holocaust historians to work out how best to implement the plan. The minister confirmed that something would be in place for the next school year that would "respond to the president's intuition." Sarkozy defended his proposal, saying Friday: "We must tell a child the truth." "If you do not talk to them of this tragedy, then you should not be surprised if it repeats itself. It is ignorance that prompts the repetition of abominable situations, not knowledge. Make our children into children with open eyes," Sarkozy said.