Vanishing Jews of Alsace
This exhibit was shown at the Carl Cherry Center for the Arts in Carmel, CA. Its Executive Director, Robert Reese, writes:
"I have worked closely with scores of artists. I have admired and been moved by the work of many of them, but on artist who continues to stand out is Diana Mara Henry.
As a photographer, she is in possession of a remarkable gift: she knows how to present difficult material in a way that engages the viewer. That skill gives Diana great influence in the world. She has put that influence to admirable use.
I admire Diana Henry's courage. She has the audacity to open the public's mind on delicate subjects. She is willing to grasp nettles in her work..."
Elizabeth Holtzman writes: "I was very moved by your photos of Alsace and hope they can be seen -- because they deserve to be -- by a larger audience."
Most of the little towns in Alsace had a couple of hundred Jewish inhabitants before World War II.
Today most have none. See what has taken their place in the one department of Bas-Rhin...
In 1985, when these photos were taken,
there were less than ten men
who remained in Hochfelden
to study together, not enough
to make a minyan for daily services.
Roger Weil, at 65 years of age,
was the youngest. Today,
Roger Weil is gone and
the others too, no doubt.
Roger Weil, at the gates of the graveyard in Hochfelden,
left untouched during World War II.
In 1985, the Bouxwiller synagogue had fallen into grave disrepair. Gilbert Weil, holding plans, is the native-born architect who later restored it and created a magnificent jewel of a museum of the Jewish Heritage in Alsace (Musée judéo-alsacien) that can be visited today and on Facebook!. Carl Henry, an early supporter of the project, is smiling next to him, and a gaggle of local girls joined to have their picture taken...
Below: Roger tells the family story to his American cousin.
Roger leading the way up the steps to the
Ingwiller synagogue, where he kept the lights on.
Carl Henry, left, and Henry Levy,
not - that we know- related,
visit the synagogue in Hochfelden
Now, the synagogogue has been restoredHappy to be sharing the link to the ceremonies and to another photographer's vision of the synagogue today.
Roger's home for five generations was marked with a Jewish starby collaborators, in 1940, to tell the Germans which were Jewish homes.
All Jews were evicted from Alsace when the Germans overran France in June 1940. The family went to Guerry in the Cher department, where they all were killed by French fascists in August 1940except fo Roger, who had joined the Resistance - the "Maquis" and his mother, who ran away before the round up. The book written about this horrible massacre is available in English as A French Tragedy.
All photographs Copyright © Diana Mara Henry / dianamarahenry.com
Roger's mother, Cora Weil,
bids her visitors adieu.
Go to website for Carl Henry's letters home from the European front in WWII, August 1944-Sept. 1945:
"As Allied troops landed in Normandy in 1944, members of the local French resistance in the small town of Saint-Amand-Montrond embarked on an ill-fated attempt to liberate their town....Resistance forces took and subsequently executed hostages; their opponents, the milice - fascist nazi-collaborationist French police - and German soldiers rounded up 36 Jewish adults and children in retaliation and put them to a horrible death..." - from the dust jacket of the US edition, A French Tragedy, by Tzvetan Todorov, published by University Press of New England.
Above, from page 174 of the Analytical Franco-Jewish Gazeteer 1939-1945 with an Introduction to Some Problems in Writing the History of the Jews of France During World War II by Zosa Szajkowski. NY, NY 1966.
[Under heading of Department of the Cher]
"For the Jews of Alsace expelled during the war, this name signifies the memory of their martyrs, it is the Jewish Oradour, that eternalizes German barbarism and shame."
DMH gave a copy of the Gazeteer to her father on his 74th birthday, May 7,1987. He annotated the title page under the author's name:
"mentor and friend of Carl Henry in the 1980s, till his suicide - gave C.H. invaluable help plus his books. C.H. gave this book to the Klarsfelds ( Paris.)"
The martyrs' corpses being winched from the wells where they were dumped after the victims were shot.This is how our relatives died, having escaped from Alsace and lived peacefully throughout the war. Only Roger Weil, who was in the Maquis (Resistance) and his mother Cora, who ran away, survived.