Skip to comments.Son sues Auschwitz for father's suitcase
Posted on 08/12/2006 8:13:05 AM PDT by lizol
Son sues Auschwitz for father's suitcase
By Charles Bremner and Roger Boyes
Victim's bag was spotted after museum lent it to an exhibition in Paris
SADNESS tinged the voice of Michel Levi-Leleu, a retired French engineer, as he explained why he was locked in a legal battle with the former Auschwitz death camp over a long-lost suitcase and the memory of his father. I dont understand the attitude of Auschwitz. I would have thought that they would have come out of this bigger if they had themselves suggested that the case stay in France, said M Levi-Leleu as he concluded his tale.
At the heart of the dispute now before a Paris court is a battered brown valise that Pierre Levi, 44, a Paris diamond broker, was carrying when French police arrested him at Avignon railway station in April 1943. Having been in hiding as a farm labourer, he was on his way to Savoy to visit his wife and their children, five-year-old Michel and his brother Etienne. Unlike his family, Levi had not changed his name to the French-sounding Leleu.
Levi took the case with him when he was shipped to the Nazi camp in Poland, one of several from which he and more than 70,000 other French deportees never returned. Nothing more was heard of him until February last year, when his son found the valise in the display at the new Memorial to the Shoah in Paris. It had been lent by the Auschwitz museum from a small collection of victims luggage. The son had never been to Auschwitz.
My daughter saw the showcase with the suitcase with my fathers name on it. She was paying more attention. For me there were too many things that I couldnt bear to look at, said M Levi-Leleu, a trim divorcé and grandfather.
Talking at his Provençal holiday home in the Drôme departement, 30 miles (48km) from Avignon, M Levi-Leleu said that, with the support of the French memorial, he had asked Auschwitz if the case could remain in France. The case would stay in France as the property of Auschwitz but it would stay in France as powerful symbolic testimony. Im not asking that they give it back to me and Ill put it in a cupboard. I want it to be seen by the people who visit the memorial.
Auschwitz refused, for fear of creating a precedent. Support from French Jewish and political leaders failed to persuade the Polish authorities, so M Levi-Leleu sued in a Paris court for the restitution of his property. The suitcase will remain in Paris during the hearing. Jacques Fredj, director of the Paris memorial, said that Auschwitz told him that if all families wanted to recover belongings, there would be no end to it.
Because the Polish museum had a permanent loan in Washington, he advised M Levi- Leleu to go to court.
In Auschwitz, Teresa Swiebocka, deputy director of the museum, said: It is one of only a few suitcases in our collection which was individually labelled and which clearly came to the Auschwitz camp together with a person deported from France. The Polish Government is backing Auschwitz.
This quote bears repeating...
Doesn't sound like this person has ever been to Auschwitz to see the displays, does it?
Were he to walk through the "Death Gate" would he have the same attitude?? Or would he want his father's valise to remain there as part of the display.
I am sure the Gestapo disposed of all the precious diamonds in it. That's what they did with all valuables.
Yup. Property law is a *itch.
(Go Israel, Go! Slap 'Em Down Hezbullies.)
He, or an heir, may donate the valise back to this museum or another. It is his right to do so, just as it is his right not to . . . .
I think it far more appropriate for the Jews of the world to sue Poland for the countless billions of dollars worth of property that was stolen from the Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.
The fact that the vast majority of Jews were murdered and consequently there is no one left to claim the property is certainly no excuse. If, God forbid, your entire family was murdered and all their property was stolen, I wouldn't imagine you would be too happy in the afterlife knowing that their property remains in the hands of those who collaborated in their murder.
There will now follow umpteen posts by individuals who will deny a historical truth that has been documented countless thousands of times by both Jews and non-Jews, Poles and non-Poles.
] Not much of a legal argument. "Because WE want it" is usually used by dictatorships and communist governments.
I agree. However, I never cease to be amazed that Poles have such an endless fascination with Jews. After all, Poland is now a vast Jewish graveyard and they are at last rid of us. Why this endless speculation about Jewish affairs?
"There will now follow umpteen posts by individuals who will deny a historical truth that has been documented countless thousands of times by both Jews and non-Jews, Poles and non-Poles.
Probably not. The Holocaust Deniers that hang around Free Republic usually keep sorta quiet about it. They don't last long here, otherwise.
How much money does Poland make from tourism related to Auschwitz? Are there fees to visit Auschwitz? If so, where does the money go?
Most governments' claims. AND, at the risk of being "set straight," isn't this the attitude of our own Smithsonian?
Who - in your opinion - should be entitled to act against Poland in the name of those perished Jews?
BTW - another Poland hater?
"I think it far more appropriate for the Jews of the world to sue Poland for the countless billions of dollars worth of property that was stolen from the Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust."
Why? Poland didn't get that property. The Nazis did. You do realize that the Nazis engineered the holocaust and not the Poles who lost millions of their own citizens to it right? Yes, after the war Poles bought the houses and land of former, then deceased owners. What else could really be done?
Man, I hope you do realize that at least.
"I wouldn't imagine you would be too happy in the afterlife knowing that their property remains in the hands of those who collaborated in their murder."
Poles collaborating with the Nazis in the Holocaust? Very, very few. And you think the polish government or the Auschwitz Museum cooperated with the Nazis? Are you drinking already this morning?
"There will now follow umpteen posts by individuals who will deny a historical truth that has been documented countless thousands of times by both Jews and non-Jews, Poles and non-Poles."
I hope he gets it back and does put it away in his cupboard.
You could also ask:
How much money do Holocaust victims make from tourism related to the Holocaust Museums around the world? Are there fees to visit them? If so, where does the money go?
It is his to take home the way I look at it. I also hope, however, he realizes that it might serve more of a purpose in a museum on display. Really I think he should talk to the museum about adding to the display things about his father and his family. Wouldn't that make even more sense?
It would have been his valise by inheritance. Auschwitz should take a bunch of pictures of it and give it back to him as sole survivor of the family.
You don't REALLY think this has ANYTHING to do with diamonds, I hope. Of course there are no diamonds.
Do you suggest that they should destroy the camp?
The Poles themselves not, government a bit because they dont want to be labeled anti-Semitic by worlds Jewry.
Most western governments recogize an "illegal taking" at the very least compensate the takee. Are you saying this provate institution has some sort of eminent domain claim?
AND, at the risk of being "set straight," isn't this the attitude of our own Smithsonian?
Let me set you straight: Everything in the Smithsonian was donated by its legal owners.
"How much money does Poland make from tourism related to Auschwitz?"
~11.7% of GDP.
My grandfather said that they had been making sausage out of Jews.
Read the article, that is what he wanted, but he wanted it to remain in France as part of the display.
He was denied that, so he went to plan B, recover it for himself and his family. He deserves to win this case.
I'm thinking that some private citizen found the items in the sea and sold them.
As I said, I'm torn 'tween both sides on this issue.