Who are Serge and Beate Klarsfeld?

Serge and Beate Klarsfeld (2007). Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Serge and Beate Klarsfeld are Holocaust remembrance activists and Nazi hunters responsible for locating and bringing to justice numerous Nazi war criminals, including Klaus Barbie, the Gestapo chief in Lyon, France, during World War II, French fascist collaborator Paul Touvier, and Vichy regime police official, and subsequent prefect of the Police in Paris and French government minister Maurice Papon. They are also prominent human rights activists.

Serge Klarsfeld, born in Romania in 1935, settled in France with his family before the outbreak of World War II and survived the war in hiding. His father was deported to Auschwitz where he died.

Beate Klarsfeld was born in 1939 in Germany. Her father, although not a Nazi, voted for Hitler in 1932 and served in the German army during the war. In November 1968, she publicly slapped the face of West German Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger, who had been a member of the Nazi Party.

The Klarsfelds have also published widely, notably a volume naming over 80,000 victims of Nazi persecution in France and an early edition of the [Auschwitz Album] collection of photographs.

[Auschwitz Album: a collection of more than 200 images taken in May 1944 during the Hungarian Aktion. Depicting the arrival, selection and registration of deportees from Berehovo (Hungarian: Beregszász), the album is the only photographic record of a transport. It was discovered by former Auschwitz inmate Lilli Jacobs after her liberation in Buchenwald: she was on the transport pictured and recognised friends, communal figures and even family in the album. She testified with the album in the 1960s Auschwitz trial and was persuaded to donate it to Yad Vashem by Serge Klarsfeld.]

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