« In my “work of remembrance” I put all my effort, as we all should, into young people. To show them the horrors they could be lead to, as many of their forebears were. To show what happens when there is inaction in the face of injustice, exclusion and barbarity. In this ‘“work of remembrance” we must also remind young people that the executioners were ordinary people, just like any of us. So, we must be vigilant as to how we respond to others, so we do not in turn become their executioners. » 


What Raphaël Esrail remembers

Robert Laffond Publishers has just published a book by Raphaël Esrail. It tells his personal story, from joining the Resistance to his return to France after having been imprisoned in Auschwitz. His is the testimony of an exceptional man who is the current president of the L’Union des Déportés d’Auschwitz (Auschwitz inmates association), and also the vice president of la Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah (The Shoah Memorial Foundation). His is also the romantic story of his love for Liliane, who he met at Drancy, and later married on their liberation from Auschwitz. The title of the book, ‘Dreaming of an embrace’, tells us about the hope that gave him the will to live, and the strength of their love which overcame the horror and suffering of the camp.

The hope for an embrace

The book is in seven parts following an introduction describing Raphaël’s arrest in Lyon:

  • Family background
  • From adolescence to adulthood
  • Towards another world
  • Auschwitz and Birkenau
  • Leaving Auschwitz
  • Coming home
  • Living as a ‘survivor’

It follows the story of a young resistant member of the Eclaireurs israëlites de France de Lyon (The Jewish Scouts of France, in Lyon) for whom he became counterfeiter. He also describes the Death March, coming home and the difficult return to freedom.

The end of the book talks a little about the present day and Raphaël Esrail’s integral involvement in L’Union des Déportés d’Auschwitz. In this organisation he works to ensure the Holocaust is never forgotten, especially by explaining what happened to younger generations. His work is currently directed towards ambitious projects supporting digital productions and a website, which require a great deal of his energy. It is also interesting at the end of the book as he discusses his thoughts on relations with Germany.

Several discussions and additional texts are included in an appendix which details more about his other activities.

Liliane et Raphaël ESRAIL on the presentation of an award by the German ambassador

Awarding of the la croix de Chevalier de l'ordre du Mérite de la République to Liliane and Raphaël Esrail
by Madame Suzanne Wasum-Rainer, Ambassdor of the Federal Republic of Germany.