'One Day in France' Book Launch
The Holocaust Research Centre at Royal Holloway, University of London, is delighted to host Gay McAuley, Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Drama and Theatre at Royal Holloway and translator of Jean-Marie Borzeix's One Day in France.
On the 6th April 1944, a detachment of German soldiers accompanied by an SS unit arrived in a remote village in the mountains of central France, arrested four peasant farmers, burnt down a house, and shot dead the four men when they refused to reveal the whereabouts of local resistance fighters. The horror of that day is etched into the collective memory of the villagers but sixty years later, when French author Jean-Marie Borzeix began to research the event, he discovered that something else happened that day. The SS unit also arrested and took away eleven Jewish refugees, mostly children and elderly women, but this additional horror was not commemorated in the village and seemed to have been forgotten.
Borzeix used his family connections in the region to persuade the notoriously clannish locals to share their memories with him, and he combed the official histories and local and national archives to try to piece together what really happened. His book, entitled Jeudi Saint, was published in France in 2008, and has this year been published in English as One Day in France. The book is in part a historical reconstruction of the events of that day, in part an account of the twists and turns of the investigation itself, and in part a reflexion on what Borzeix calls the ‘general amnesia’ that affected the whole country in respect of what happened to Jews in France during the war.
In this talk, McAuley will discuss the experience of translating the book into English and the opportunity it has afforded her to observe the complex and painful process that is occurring in France as the heroic narrative that prevailed in the decades following the war is gradually transformed. Drawing on conversations with the author and some of the extensive correspondence he has received since the book’s publication in France, as well as on participation in conferences and commemorative events held in the village, McAuley will explore the impact the book is continuing to have, and what this reveals about the way individuals and communities are still dealing with the repercussions of the war three quarters of a century later.