On April 2, 1968, Beate Klarsfeld gave a gift to Chancellor Kiesinger, to protest against the coming to power of this former Nazi.
Anxious to escape the condition of women in Germany, Beate Künzel leaves Berlin on March 7, 1960, to go to Paris where she will be an au pair. On May 11, 1960, she met Serge Klarsfeld on the platform of the metro station, Porte de Saint-Cloud. It will be love at first sight. Serge reveals to Beate the story of Nazism, its crimes and the painful course of the breasts: his Jewish father was arrested by the Gestapo, deported and killed. The couple married on November 7, 1963.
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What was the reaction of Serge Klrasfeld’s mother when he told her that he was going to marry a non-Jewish German woman?
My mother-in-law from Romania had lived in Germany and studied pharmacy. Even though her husband had been gassed by the Germans, when I first met him there was no hesitation. A beggar in the street who read the future had even told Serge that I was the woman of his life.
In 15 days, you will be celebrating your 58th wedding anniversary. Your exceptional love story forms the basis of your single fight for the Jewish people and against Nazism. And if it hadn’t happened, would you have been the same fighter?
No. If I had not met Serge, I would surely have returned to Germany because I had come to Paris to learn French. Our meeting was a fluke. He hit on me in the metro, I ended up giving him my host family’s phone number. Two days later he called me.
On April 2, 1968, the whole world knows you thanks to the gift you gave to Chancellor Kiesinger. Did you hesitate to understand this act?
Not at all. It was a very prepared act. I had even informed a journalist of my gesture so that he was ready to take a picture of me. The Congress of the Democratic Party became Democrat in West Berlin, it was at its end and I absolutely had to act. But the room was not as I imagined. I had to get down and reach the podium where the Chancellor is located who gave his final speech. Thanks to a journalist’s card, I got off the platform very slowly. Downstairs there were guards. In order to get through, I told them that another reporter was waiting for me on the other side. That’s how I was able to get behind Keisinger.
Did he see you coming?
When I was behind him, he turned around and recognized me because there had already been a lot of protests against him. I gave him a gift on the cheek and the eye, a doctor was called away. I was arrested and sentenced to one year in prison that same evening. But as a Frenchwoman, I did not have the right to be tried in Germany, so until the appeal, I was free.
But did it take this coup for the media to take an interest in your fight?
Yes, I had front pages all over the press, even in America where there were elections. My reaction was that of the German youth to the generation of the former Nazis.