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« You don't learn from history, I'm convinced you don't learn from history.  »

Ginette Kolinka

Ginette was born in Paris in 1925. Her parents had six daughters, of whom Ginette was the youngest before her little brother Gilbert was finally born. During the war, the family took refuge in Avignon (south of France), a place and time of which Ginette has fond memories. She worked at the local farmer’s market with one of her sisters, and at lunchtime, they would take turns going home for lunch. One day, as she arrived home, the Gestapo was there. They took Ginette, her father, her little brother and her nephew Jojo to Drancy. They were then taken to Auschwitz on convoy 71, Simone Veil's convoy. On arrival, the Germans shouted that the elderly, the people who were tired and the children could go into the trucks that would take them to the camp. Ginette told her father to do so and he climbed into the truck with the two boys. She would never see them again. Selected for work, Ginette was as discreet as possible, avoiding beatings and trouble. Miraculously, she avoided death marches.
Upon her return to Paris, completely unaware of what had become of her mother and sisters, she was surprised to find them in the family apartment. Ginette, who felt she had no emotions left in her, told her mother that her father and the boys had been gassed and burned. She didn’t realize the violence such a revelation represented for her mother, who had never heard of a gas chamber or crematorium.
Ginette got married, and together they sold hosiery at different local markets for years. She doesn’t allow anyone to think she had any courage at all: for her, luck was the only thing that enabled her to survive. She has one son, two grandsons and is now a great-grandmother. After keeping quiet for decades "for fear of annoying people", she is now a tireless witness, speaking out in schools where she is adored by the students. Yet this woman, who fights hatred relentlessly, finds it hard to believe in the power of her testimony. She feels that after all, we have learned nothing from history.

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