July 9, 1979: A parked Renault is purposely blown up. Serge Klarsfeld was born in Bucharest in 1935. His Jewish family escaped Romania and made their way to France before World War II. His father was arrested in Nice and the SS deported him to Auschwitz where he died. Serge, his mother, and sister all survived the War with the help of OSE, an organization for helping Jewish children. His mother helped the French Resistance. Beate Kunzel was born in Berlin in 1939. Her Christian family was not targeted and her father served in the Wehrmacht during the War. In 1960, she went to Paris to work as an au pair and learned more about the Holocaust. She later worked for the Franco-German Alliance for Youth. They married in 1963. Their son, Arno, was born in 1965 and became a human rights lawyer.
Beate was fired from the Alliance for Youth in 1966 because of her campaign against the West German Chancellor, Kurt Kiesinger. He had been in the foreign ministry during the war working in the radio propaganda department. Beate was convicted in West Germany for slapping Kiesinger in 1968 and was sentenced to a year in prison, later lowered to four months. Records released in 2012 revealed Beate had been working with the cooperation of East Germany and had been paid for her actions. Both she and her husband had been regular Stasi (German Ministry for State Security) contacts. The Klarsfelds had been blackmailing West German politicians regarding their activities during World War II.
Both were activists against far-flung anti-Semitism throughout much of what was German occupied territory. Beate was arrested in Warsaw and deported from Poland in 1970. She was accused of being a German spy and in 1971 the German Democratic Republic would not permit her entry into the country. Both Klarsfelds were convicted in West Germany for attempted kidnapping of a former Gestapo chief in order to bring him to France for prosecution. They continued with Nazi hunting and resumed contact with the Stasi to try to track down war criminals.
On this date, their car was parked outside their home in France. No one was in the car when it exploded and no one was near it. There were no injuries. ODESSA claimed responsibility for the bombing. The word is from the German, Organisation der Ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen, meaning “Organization of Former SS Members” and is, in theory, a group of Nazi networks set up to help Nazis escape to Latin America or the Middle East. There is no extant proof of their existence. The Klarsfelds were not swayed and continued their hunt. They were successful in helping find German Nazis and French Vichy officials and bringing them to justice for their war crimes.
Above all, always be capable of feeling deeply any injustice committed against anyone, anywhere in the world. – Che Guevara
We win justice quickest by rendering justice to the other party. – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Justice is always violent to the party offending, for every man is innocent in his own eyes. – Daniel Defoe
Justice is incidental to law and order. – J. Edgar Hoover
Also on this day: Good Lovin’ – In 1995, The Grateful Dead performed together for the last time.
Up in Smoke – In 1878, a patent was granted for the making of a corncob pipe.
Ape Man – In 1922, Johnny Weissmuller broke the minute barrier for the 100 meter freestyle.
The Great Train Wreck of 1918 – In 1918, two trains collided near Nashville, Tennessee.
No Nukes – In 1955, the Russell-Einstein Manifesto was released in London.
* “Klarsfelds” by Personal photographer – http://www.klarsfeldfoundation.org/. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Klarsfelds.jpg#/media/File:Klarsfelds.jpg