On July 11th of 2018, FIU Honors students of France: Art, War, and Human Rights were led on an educational tour of le Centre d’histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation (CHRD). Following their experience at le Centre d’histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation (CHRD), students shared their voices and opinions through photographs and personal reflections.
When I first approached Lyon’s pastel colored structures in awe, I was nowhere near imagining how such a beautiful and calm place could be so full of dark history. I found myself admiring the guignol advertisements as I hiked up towards the uncovered Roman ruins but then quickly ending up on the other side of the city through a traboule. I had my mind blown after having the privilege to meet and listen to the testimonies of Claude Bloch (Holocaust survivor) and Jean Nallit (French Resistance fighter). As many times as I have read and spoken about the Holocaust and World War II, I have never been as shook as I was sitting in that chair at the Montluc prison. Claude Bloch’s story shook me emotionally but it was all the harder to listen to while seeing the pain on his face and the tattoo that marked him as part of history forever. What truly chilled me to the bone was his final words of advice to our generation: “Humans are the only ones that kill their own in the way they do. Animals don’t even mass murder each other. Humans have always been like this throughout history. Be vigilant. Watch out for the right-wing officials taking back positions in government.” That’s when I realized that his life story was far too parallel to what has been occurring for the past 2 years in the US. Far too many of us are desensitized to the history of the Holocaust and that is such a dangerous mindset. It didn’t happen too long ago and the early signs of history repeating are very well possibly occurring right in front of our faces.
As terrifying as this is all is, I realize that there is still hope for humanity because of people like Jean Nallit. Above all, I want to clearly state that this man is an inspiration and role model and has done incredible deeds that I only wish I had the strength to do. I could very well easily say that I could selflessly help tens of thousands of people anonymously with no recognition at the risk of getting caught. I could very well easily say that I could endure torture by the gestapo’s brutal Klaus Barbie and still not admit a word. I could very well easily say I could risk my life fighting from an early age of 15 to save the lives of others who wrongly persecuted. All easily said, but I know very well that actually being in those situations is a different story. I don’t think I have the kind of strength that Jean Nallit had to fight in the resistance or the ambition to live that Claude Bloch had in the concentration camp.
Everyone should aspire to have the kind of strength these two brave men had.
Lyon changed my life more than I could’ve expected. I need to be more involved in making positive changes back home but also stripping myself of the selfish desire of recognition because that’s how good deeds lose their strength. I aspire to one day have the strength and morality of Monsieur Bloch and Monsieur Nallit.
FIU Honors France 2018 Student Gallery from Centre d’histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation (CHRD)
Isabella Marie Garcia