Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Clockmender Oscar Rosen and his wife Rachel on Convoy 62, November 1943

What did you think,

as you and Rachel

sat on the floor of the cattle truck

as it left Paris?

Did you think of the watches

and clocks you had mended ?

Did you think of the tiny springs

and wheels?

You with your magnifying glass

in your eye poring over the works

so that a Monsieur or a Madame

could tell the time,

correct to the exact second?

Did you think of the smell of the sea

and the push of a boat against

the waves?

How you and Rachel

would stand on the deck

the wind in your faces

as you sailed away?

Did you look

through the gaps in the slats

on the side of the truck?

Did you see farmers in fields?

Women selling clothes in a market?

Did you call out?

Did you push your hands through the gaps?

Did the night come creeping in?

Did you see a light from a window

where people sat and

ate their evening meal?

Did you see in the dark

horror on Rachel's face?

Did she see horror on yours?

Did you shut her eyes?

Did she shut yours?

Thinking of children

who shut their eyes to make

the world go away?

And then

behind your eyelids

did you think of the cattle

that had once stood in the truck

as they were taken away

to the slaughter-house?

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Martin Rozen (1890-1944)

I thought there was a way in which I could simplify my previous blog about Martin Rozen so that it's more stark. It may be too simplified....(trying to find ways of telling these things for different audiences...)

Martin Rozen (1890-1944), my father's uncle

On January 31 1944
at 2.30 in the morning
in a village in France
4 policemen knock on the door
of a woman
who has several lodgers in her house.

They take away one of them, a man
who has done nothing wrong.

They take him to a nearby town
to put him with 30 others
who have done nothing wrong.

He is taken away with them
and put on a train
to where he and they are put
with hundreds of others
who have done nothing wrong.

He is then taken away by train
carrying more than a thousand people
to another country
where he is put with thousands
and thousands of others
who have done nothing wrong
and killed.

What happens when fascists and Nazis take over

Martin Rozen

There is a report in the archives of the

‘département’ of the Vendée in western France

which says that:

on 31 January 1944,

officers Salomon, Mazouin, and Cabanetos

under command of Adjutant Le Papu,

from the Fontanay-le-Comte station,

in the Sainte-Hermine Brigade

acting on instructions from

Prefect Monsieur Gaston Jammet

according to the ordinance of Jan 20 1944

called at 2.30 in the morning

at the living quarters of Martin Rozen

in a property owned by Mme Bobières née Meunier

in the village of Sainte-Hermine in the Vendée.

The officers say in their report that Martin Rozen

opened the door and that

they took him and drove him to the station.

Martin Rozen, the report goes on, was:

“...born on 18 August 1890

at Krosniewice in Poland.

Jeweller, son of Jonas and Rachel,

naturalised French, Jewish race.

1 metre 62

brown eyes

oval face

straight nose

regular mouth

dressed in yellow cotton trousers and grey cotton jacket

wearing a Basque beret and low-heeled shoes.

Scar on his left cheek.

He was taken to the Parish Hall at La Roche-sur-Yon.”

...where he met up with 30 other Jews taken that night.

They were taken to the train station,

put on a wagon for La Rochelle,

then Poitiers, then Drancy internment camp.

From there he was taken to Paris Bobigny station,

put on Convoy 68 on February 10 and taken to Auschwitz.

From the Archives of La Vendée there is more:

On March 28 1944,

Madame Bobières wrote to the Prefect of the Vendée

at Roche-sur-Yon, Monsieur Jammet,

informing him that the ‘Feldgendarmerie’

and the Gendarmerie

came to her house on January 31st

and took Mr Rosen, of Jewish nationality,

who had been staying in her house for more than a year.

“A wicker basket containing some linen

belonging to Mr Rosen has been left in the room,

which had been sealed up by the Gendarmes.”

In this room, Mme Bobières writes:

"is my furniture, including a large cupboard,

containing things that are indispensable for my personal use:

sheets, clothes, linen, blankets and family papers.

Besides that, Rosen’s brother-in-law who lives in the next room,

and who is French, would look after the wicker basket,

which is the only piece of furniture belonging to Rosen.

I am 71 years old and infirm.

I have the honour of soliciting your goodwill

in taking off the seals to this room.

I thank you, Monsieur Le Préfet and

hope you will accept my respectful compliments.

Mme Bobières."

On the 15 April

the Prefect

Monsieur Gaston Jammet

(who was the person who sent out

the ordinance to round up the Jews in the Vendée)

informed Mme Bobières

that she would only be able to take the seals off

as and when the Occupation authorities will allow it.

Gaston Jammet

who had sent out orders to round up

the Jews of the Vendée,

had been ordered to do so by

Monsieur Louis Bourgain, Prefect of the region,

who had received orders to do so from

Pierre Laval, Chief of Government in conjunction with

the chief of the Regional Security Police,

(the Sicherheitspolizei), Karl Hermann Herold

who acted under instructions from

his superior officers, Helmut Knochen,

and Heinz Röthke both based in Paris..

Martin Rozen is my father’s uncle.

He didn’t return from Auschwitz.

His name is engraved on the commemorative wall at the

Museum of the Shoah in Paris.

There is a plaque on the wall in La Roche-sur-Yon

where the Parish Hall used to be

commemorating the round-up of

January 30 and 31 1944.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Reading for Pleasure - 6 free online resources


This is a 'matrix' of questions to help children talk about aspects of a book, a passage, a poem or any text.


This is the Open University's wonderful site to encourage and set up reading for pleasure practices in schools.


This is the National Union of Teachers' excellent booklet on reading for pleasure.


This is my matrix for understanding our thinking processes as we read.


These are my twenty tips to help reading for pleasure in schools. 


This is Ian Eagleton's site where he has 25 really great questions to ask pupils in order to encourage a love of reading - amongst other things on a superb site. 

[apologies these links aren't live; you can of course copy them and paste them into your browser]

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Directive from German 'Security Police' to remove Jews from Poitiers Jan 1944

I’ve put this up because a) it was the local directive that would prove fatal for my father’s uncle and b) because it gives us all an insight into the methods and processes of the Nazi genocide machine. Note the precision about logistics but the lie about Jews’ supposed collective guilt. Remember it’s the Nazis who are the illegitimate occupying army. 
This command went from the regional prefect to the local prefect to the police who arrested 31 Jews and shipped them to Drancy, to Paris and then Auschwitz. Note also it’s ‘of all nationalities’ by this point. These commands had been directed to foreign-born Jews up till then. One way Vichy claimed these acts were 'legitimate' was because it was getting rid of people who weren't French. At this point, Vichy's collaboration crossed a line because it was collaborating with people (the Nazis) who were deporting French people whose only 'crime' was that they were born Jewish. This is not me legitimating the deportation of foreign-born Jews (of course not) but it's worth noting the line being crossed here.

From: Kommandant der Sicherheitspolizei und des S.D. in Poitiers

Poitiers, le 27 janvier 1944 (January 27)

To Mr Regional Prefect, in Poitiers

Subject: the removal (‘écartement’) of the Jews from the Poitiers Region.

In recent times, there have been multiple cases of Jews being involved in acts of terrorism and sabotage, discovered taking part in the communist movement and being known as principal actors or instigators in other anti-German organisations. As a result, I am requesting you, in this case of security measures which must be taken out of all necessity, to arrest in the first hours of January 31, 1944 and then later at 3 o’clock in the morning, all Jews still present in the region, without regard for their nationality or their age and to transfer them as soon as possible to the closed camp for Jews in Drancy. The families must be taken in groups. This measure also extends to Jews who live in a mixed marriage, and also to people who count as Jews and to Jews by religion (‘confession‘) who come from a mixed marriage, also to Jews working for French or German households [‘maisons’ nb this might mean ‘businesses’] or in work camps (for example, O.T.) ** [see below] The Jews are authorised to take winter clothes with them on the journey and the usual necessary utensils, as well as some food for 3 days. We will let them take money (‘argent des devises’) and valuable objects.

The sick - that is, those who will not be able to manage the journey - must produce a medical certificate and should be interned in the nearest hospital.

You will present to us in three letters - one for each ‘département‘ [like a ‘county‘ in Britain] a list of arrested Jews and a list of Jews interned in the hospitals. These lists must include the following points:

the order number, surname, first name, date and place of birth, country of residence, street and number, profession and day of arrest.

The Jews’ lodgings must be closed and placed under German seals.

[Original written in French, source: in facsimile p.97
‘La Traque, le destin des juifs de Vendée pendant la seconde guerre mondiale’
Louis Gouraud
Éditions Les Chantuseries (2015)]

** "O.T." =

About this website
L’Organisation Todt[a] (OT en abrégé) était un groupe de génie civil et militaire du Troisième Reich. Elle portait le nom de celui qui a été son fondateur et son dirigeant jusqu'en 1942, Fritz Todt, un ingénieur et une figure importante du nazisme, en tant que mandataire général pour la ...